Becoming a successful entrepreneur often means facing your demons head-on. Just like sobriety, there’s no greater threat to success than fear.
In addition to the fear of failure, I’ve seen entrepreneurs crumble in the face of two obstacles.
The first is the fear of the unknown. Most jobs come with straightforward responsibilities and rules. In contrast, the recipe for success in entrepreneurship is completely unknown. Without a clear path to follow, many potential entrepreneurs freeze.
A founder must have the courage to lead his team into the unknown in the face of potential failure. Don’t be afraid to drop everything to go after the product showing promise or revenue, and don’t allow fear to keep you from hiring — or firing — fast.
The second risk to entrepreneurs is being content with “good enough.” I’ve known many entrepreneurs who get comfortable once they begin generating revenue. They’re afraid to reinvest money, hire more people, or take further risks to grow their companies. Don’t be afraid to be great, rather than simply good. Your “good enough” business has the potential to be even more lucrative or influential.
Identify Your Barriers
I would never have become a successful entrepreneur if I had remained addicted to drugs. Likewise, our company would not have become successful if I hadn’t risked our startup cash on a bid for more customers.
It’s important to ask and understand what’s holding you back. What’s keeping you or your startup from being successful? Ask yourself:
1. What’s keeping me from taking the leap?
- Do I need to save more money for a safety fund to make sure I won’t starve if I leave my current job?
- Do the people around me support my decision to become an entrepreneur?
- Do I have responsibilities that require a stable income?
2. What’s the worst that could happen?
- If my project fails, what’s the worst situation I could find myself in?
- What will I do if my project is a complete failure?
There are very few worst-case scenarios you can’t bounce back from. Being a successful entrepreneur means taking risks. It takes great courage and self-awareness to face down your fears.
What Addiction Taught Me about Entrepreneurship
Addiction to alcohol and drugs destroyed my life. I went to four rehab centers before I realized that no program could face down my personal demons for me.
When you’re addicted to drugs, everything inside of you screams to not let go. Fear of life without the drug consumes you. I wasn’t able to let go of drugs until I was willing to face that fear.
When it comes to venturing out on their own, most people are similarly afraid to let go of safety. Fear of failure becomes their worst enemy.
Recovery from addiction taught me two lessons that helped me become a successful entrepreneur:
- It’s never too late. I recovered from addiction in my mid-30s, after 20 years of reliance on drugs. That hasn’t stopped me from being successful or from pursuing my dreams. It’s never too late to change your life.
- Do what you love. It’s absolutely essential to follow your passion. I’m passionate about helping people recover from addiction because of my own experiences. If you love what you do, you’ll work harder, push harder, and inspire your team to do the same.
There are scars of my past life that will never go away. I will deal with them for the rest of my life. However, my experiences have made me stronger, propelled me forward, and required me to become an inspiration for my team and my clients.
I couldn’t have accomplished my goals without facing my worst fears. Likewise, you won’t be able to move forward in life — or with your business — until you’ve vanquished your own demons.