What do I do when people around me doubt my business idea?

You get a brilliant idea to build that app! As you think more about it, the more you are convinced that this is going to be a game changer.

What do you do next?

You bounce this idea with some people around you to check their reaction. They could be your friends or colleagues or even some mentors or start-up experts.

They hear your idea and guess what?  They don’t look like as much excited about it as you are, not even 10% of it. In fact, they have serious doubts about its viability.

The end of the story is as much expected!

You no longer feel the energy to work on that app idea. Though you are not fully happy with the decision, you nevertheless have practically pulled yourself out of that idea.

And, after a few days, weeks, months, you come across a start-up that has just launched something that’s quite the idea that you had before.

You have a feeling of having missed out something.

How many times have you gone through this cycle?

How do you break this idea-doubting jinx? 

The article – Dealing With People Who Doubt Your Business Ideas  by Steve C says, anytime you start your own business or take any risks for that matter, you’ll inevitably meet people who will doubt you. These people often mean well, but their negative comments can be a devastating blow to your self-esteem and your entrepreneurial spirit if you are not careful.

This article lists 3 types of doubters. There are gunslingers, who are always the first ones to shoot down your ideas. Gunslingers are complete pessimists and can suck away all of your excitement with a single derogatory comment.

And, there are factoids, who constantly remind you of how slim your chances are of being successful. They’ll quote industry-wide statistics and failure ratios which can make your business idea seem silly and ridiculous.  And finally, there are mockers, who will ask you questions about your business expecting to hear negative things about your sales. These people may not be doing it on purpose, but they secretly want to see you fail.

But many times, it is not others but the doubter is yourself. In I have doubts about my startup idea, Vidit Saxena says, “Sure shot way to failure is not believing in your idea or in yourself”.  He suggests a remedy for this, based on his own experience, “If you start doubting, — one thing I have found to work for myself is not to look far to the end and just enjoy the journey.

Why People Don’t Do: Doubts On The Way To Creating  by  Anna Vital takes us to an inside scoop as to why some people never get around to doing the idea they always talk about? Other people procrastinate for a while and then actually do what they said they wanted to do. Entrepreneurs are doers. So what goes on in the mind of people who turn into entrepreneurs?  Essentially, you need to know how to overcome  the voices inside your head that may be saying things like:

  • Fear, “…um, you might fail…”
  • Procrastinator, “Is it the right time to do this?”
  • Over-optimism, “It’s taking too long.”
  • Nothing’ New, “Has this been done before?”
  • Parent, “Should you be doing something else?”
  • More Info, “Hey, do some more research?”
  • Not Me, “Are you the right person to do this?”
  • Popular, “What will your friends think?”

In 5 Thoughts on Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt , James Clear gives us tips about how you can get past fear and self–doubt and do the things that you want to do.  He says, “Fear-based decision making is when you let your fears or worries dictate your actions (or, in most cases, your lack of action)”. The unfortunate result is that you don’t do the things that you say are important to you.  His advice on overcoming fear and self–doubt includes:

  • Don’t pick goals where the stakes are low (failing in a safe zone is just a clever way of holding yourself back).
  • Nobody is rooting for you to fail. (The world is big and you are small, and that means you can chase your dreams with little worry for what people think).
  • Just because you don’t like where you have to start from doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get started. (Feelings of fear and uncertainty have a way of making you feel unprepared).
  • Stop making uncertain things, certain. (Stop acting like failure is certain. It’s not).
  • The only real failure is not taking any action in the first place.

If you do meet up with critics, Haters and Critics: How to Deal with People Judging You and Your Work by James Clear shares learnings about dealing with the people who judge you, your work, and your goals.  He acknowledges that the biggest critic in your life usually lives between your own two ears. Working up the courage to move past your own vulnerability and uncertainty is often the greatest challenge you’ll face on the way to achieving your goals.

But that is easier said than done because we all like to be validated.  And, of course, it doesn’t matter what you do, there will always be someone who finds fault in it. In his advice on how do you get over it and move forward, he says, “Focus on the road, not the wall – Criticism and negativity from other people is like a wall. And if you focus on it, then you’ll run right into it. You’ll get blocked by negative emotions, anger, and self-doubt. Your mind will go where your attention is focused.”

“Criticism and negativity don’t prevent you from reaching the finish line, but they can certainly distract you from it. However, if you focus on the road in front of you and on moving forward, then you can safely speed past the walls and barriers that are nearby”.

But, many times, we use doubts by others to put off difficult work. We procrastinate.  And, If you identify this phenomenon, James Clear has a detailed guide on Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating .  The purpose of this guide is to break down the science behind why we procrastinate, share proven frameworks you can use to beat procrastination and cover useful strategies that will make it easier to take action. He outlines  4 strategies to avoid procrastination – (1) Make the rewards of taking action more immediate,  (2) Make the consequences of procrastination more immediate, (3) Design your future actions, and (4) Make the task more achievable.

Final words

On your journey as an entrepreneur, hearing doubts about your idea is your first hurdle – one of many. Don’t let doubt kill your dream. Work on really refining your idea, and determine for yourself if the critics have some valid points. Be persistent in your efforts, but realize you may have to go back to the drawing board and make adjustments as you go. There is no shame in that – it’s part of the process.

When you hear doubts about your idea, you need to be clear who you are hearing it from. Are those people your potential customers, or just friends and family?
Remember, in the end, the only people that you really have to convince that this a good idea is your customers. And, they’ll tell you pretty quick if you’re right.

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