I don’t get nervous that often. It’s mostly an emotion that happens when I’m in a crowd, washing over me in ineffable waves. I don’t know what bad thing I think is going to happen, but it’s not a thought, it’s an emotion, and a strong one. I just have to remind myself that nothing’s going to happen and get out as soon as I possibly can.
The other time it happens is when I’m getting onto a rollercoaster or climbing the first hill. I hate heights and have special strategies for that first hill: look outwards or upwards, but never, ever, ever look downward. Close your eyes if you have to.
And then the rest of it is a thrill ride. Part of the appeal of such a ride is the perceived danger and the nervousness it causes. The release, the thrill, is that much greater because of it.
I started this blog for fun. I hoped to make a couple of dollars off of it, but if that never happens I’m not that much worse off. I want to do well on it but I don’t really care what you think of me. I want you to like me, but that’s something outside of my control.
I also recently started a business. Holocron Copywriting Services.
My goal: sell freelance writing services to nonprofit organizations, especially small ones. There appear to be a lot of ones that need it.
Since I decided to act on the idea, I’ve felt an indescribable confidence. To be fair, I’m a pretty confident person. Maybe even cocky. But, I know that I’m smart, and I know that I’m a hard worker, and just about any problem can be solved by some application of those two traits. Why wouldn’t I be confident?
Everything I’ve done so far has been easier than I thought it would be, and sometimes, more fun. Building the website, creating packages and services to sell, setting up emails and social media pages and creating a logo—it all just flew by. It felt for the longest time like the perfect combination of my passion, trained skill, acquired knowledge, and innate ability.
And, as of late last week, I’m just about ready to go. All I lack now is clients who want to pay me and do stuff.
Now that I’m here, it’s like the pilot light that was keeping the eternal reservoir of energy and passion going has gone completely out.
And now I’m nervous. Maybe even scared.
Nervous about cold-calling people I don’t know to try and convince them they can use a service. Nervous about being taken seriously. Nervous about screwing up my pitch and losing potential clients that really would have benefited from my service. Nervous about charging the right amount, because on the one hand, it feels wrong to charge nonprofits any amount of money, but on the other, I’m doing this to earn a living and a living isn’t cheap.
My natural inclination has always been to do good work and let it speak for itself. I’ve found when you do that people often go out of their way to tell you it was good, sometimes even to a higher degree than you yourself would have rated the work.
Here, I have to convince people that I do good work, starting from a blank slate. It’s not the most comfortable position to be in. I’ve never more completely gambled on myself, rolling the dice on my own ability. If I fail, it’s one-hundred percent on me.
But, it turns out, as it often turns out, that I’m not alone in feeling these sorts of things.
After consulting Google, which for better or for worse is today’s emergency counselor, I realized that a lot of my feelings are common and are not among the worst that entrepreneurs often feel.
Just look at some of these article titles:
- 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Defeat Depression
- Burnout, Anxiety and Emptiness: Founders Open Up About the Dark Side of Entrepreneurship
- The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship
I also came across some articles that actually made me feel somewhat better.
Remember a simple concept that applies to all businesses: launching with a minimum viable product. Your product doesn’t have to be perfect when it first launches, and it doesn’t have to be the best. It just has to be acceptable. From there, you’ll have plenty of room to make improvements to it over time. No product ever starts out perfect — some of the greatest businesses in the world probably started with a product of a similar quality to yours.
I find that sentiment to be reassuring. Maybe even relaxing.
I’ve always anticipated learning during this process, but I can’t let fear of making mistakes hold me back. As much as I’d like to be perfect, I can only learn when I make mistakes, which is almost inevitable when I step outside my comfort zone, which is what I’m doing now.
Elsewhere, Te-Erika Patterson writes:
It’s terrifying to take the risk of offering your skills to the world, wondering if they’ll be valued. Unless you start your business with an established audience of people ready to throw money at you, a stampede won’t immediately swarm to knock your door down.
If you approach your business with joy, consistently delivering what’s promised, you’ll undoubtedly experience a turn of the tide. In the meantime, work your marketing plan feverishly, study to increase your level of expertise and be kind to yourself because you’ve already made it further than most.
I’ve never been a very patient person. I understand delayed gratification, but it’s not really the biggest factor in my mental math. Most of the time I’m working hard because I think doing so will get me to the mythical “success-land” that much faster. An hour here is an hour sooner that I arrive. That I’ll have made it.
But, there’s no reason that’s true. I think the next big hurdle for me will be developing patience, letting things grow in the time that they take to grow. I’d hate to quit right before my big break because things weren’t going quite as fast as I had hoped they would have.