How do I grow some balls and execute a business startup?

So I have money. I have business ideas. But when it comes time to execute on the elaborate plan I have written, covered all of the bases, etc - I come up with some excuse as to why I shouldn't do it. Perhaps I need a partner, maybe I think it won't work. Maybe it won't be as profitable as first thought. I get cold feet when I go to pull the trigger... How do I get over it and grow some balls?


You get the bravery to do the thing by doing the thing.

Stop being in analysis paralysis and just get on with it. You build a business one step at a time, one action at a time.

Just get on with it.

Stop worrying about whether it will be profitable or not. You either want the thing or you don't. Do you want the desired result? Or not really?

Every day you stand still you are being blown past by people who are already running the race.

Get started. You are making far too much about the fear of failure. What's the worst that can happen? You lose all your money and have to start over. Big deal. Some of us have done this many times. That's what entrepreneurship is. Shut your thinking down and just get on with it. Or move on.

Answered 6 years ago

I have been there, and felt that doubt many times. It's an important emotion that you have to sort through before you take the leap.

Based on your description, I suspect that your hesitation is well-founded. Risk is not for everyone. Trust me when I tell you that the level of risk you feel now is minuscule compared to what you'll experience after you've invested your time and money into an idea.

It's not really about "growing a pair." It's about being mature enough to assess the business concept objectively. Everyone has "great ideas" for X or Y new product, app, service, etc. True entrepreneurs learn to discern the difference between a good idea and a viable business.

To do this, and be successful, you have to KNOW it will work. In my experience, and through the experience of my more accomplished peers, I can tell you that we all have ideas. But when that one special one comes along, it haunts you day and night. You just KNOW it.

I'd say, when you feel like that, pull the trigger. Until then, consider working for another startup to learn as much as you can about how to wade through it, and more important, how NOT to go about it. Also, consider taking your idea to an incubator mixer party and run it by a few people to help validate it.

When you feel that KNOWING, and you have the confidence that comes from having seen some of the ins and outs of startups, your balls will be plenty big enough to execute.

Good luck,


~Feel free to set up a call with me if you want to hear about how I got through this with my startup last year.

Answered 6 years ago

Others might be right that you should just jump in. You also might explore some "low cost probes" into the venture. For example, call prospective customers whom you trust and ask for their insights -- and don't forget to ask "If I really did this, would you be a customer?"

Build your confidence that this is the right thing to do. Entrepreneurship requires many different traits, but unrelenting confidence is critical. Best of luck!

Answered 6 years ago

As a serial entrepreneur, I've been in your situation many times. I completely understand you feeling that the problem is that you need to "grow some balls", and it feels like it would be nice if there were some magic way to overcome fear. I'm going to suggest that the first important thing you need to consider is that fear is not always a bad thing. It stops us from doing really stupid things that can hurt ourselves. So if you are coming up with legitimate reasons why the business startup won't work, I wouldn't call those "excuses". I would call them legitimate issues that you need to work out in advance before committing enormous amounts of time and resources to an endeavor. There are many people who don't take this step and end up regretting it a year or two later, when something obvious trips them up and shows that their plan is flawed.

If you find that the thing is holding you back is not reasonable/or logical or likely to happen, then I recommend taking another tactic. There is no such thing as a brave person that isn't afraid. The difference between a brave person and a coward is that the brave person feels the fear and still goes ahead anyway. The journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step, so if this is your situation, then the important thing is to take that first step. Instead of just obsessing on your elaborate plan, pick the first thing that needs to be done and just do it. Then take the next small thing that needs to be done and do that tomorrow. Every day you should be taking at least one step closer to your goal, and if you are persistent, then your momentum will be virtually unstoppable.

The last thing I'll say is that you should try to minimize your risk as much as possible so that your fear can be managed and kept at a reasonable level, so it won't interfere with your ability to execute. The most important thing is to have a backup plan for each thing that you fear. For example, if you fear you might be running out of money in 5 to 6 months, then line up a part-time job. If you're worried that your cofounder is too much of a flake, start talking to other possible replacements before there is a problem… so that you can transition to a better partner without too much disruption. Etc.

If you need any other advice, or assistance, I've been in your shoes many times and can help. Good luck!

Answered 6 years ago

Do something you really hate, to the point you want to throw up. Sit for a full day in the DMV or some sort of public entity and just observe how unhappy work.

Answered 6 years ago

I would question whether your doing it for yourself or not. I think a lot of times we hold silent resentments towards the things that are expected of us. This question has to do with value, self-esteem, and confidence-- it's not in the business arena yet.

Answered 6 years ago

Everybody's personality is different, and that affects whether a business plan will succeed or not.

In your case, I'd strongly advise seeking a partner outside your immediate circle of family and friends. Simply from hearing your misgivings, I think I can sort of "recognize" you to some extent. Could be wrong.

Still, I think you'd benefit from having a partner who can validate / criticize your ideas and possibly even act as a cheer leader now and again.

Having a partner would, of course, spread your risk and give you an extra set of eyes and ears and hands. But it does more than that. It balances out your careful, meticulous, not 100% confident personality with someone else who may be less prudent, less patient but more aggressive and energetic.

No single person is enough. You can hire other personalities or you can partner with them.

I think you need someone else to give you permission to take risks. That shouldn't be someone like us here on (who don't really know what you're trying to do). And it shouldn't be a family member, who will be prone to flattery. Maybe it should be someone with as much skin in the game as you have.

Answered 6 years ago

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. By not acting on your plan, you're not only holding yourself back from your goal(s), but you are also robbing yourself of an extremely valuable education. The kind of education that you will only get in the trenches.

I don't know anything about your business ideas and what kind of money is at stake, but if you truly believe in yourself and the vision you've created ... there's only one thing to do.

When you say "pull the trigger", what kind of action item(s) are you attempting to take before you get cold feet? Whatever the answer is to this question, it's also the answer to your question: "How do I get over it?" You simply push through the part that held you back last. As Nike would say, just do it.

Answered 6 years ago

1. Ask yourself why you want to do a startup in the first place - whatever is the motivation, use it to overcome any fears you might have.

2. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen... It is easy to launch a business, but the cold reality is that the odds of success are stacked against you and only a small percentage of startups become successful businesses...BUT 100% of business founders gain valuable experience regardless of the outcome - this is the upside in all cases. So if you protect yourself from downside risk (ie. don't put $500k to start your first company, keep your day job until the business is generating cash flow, test demand before building a product, etc.) then you can't fail.

3. Don't overthink and just go - since there are so many uncontrollable things that can and will go wrong you have to be almost delusional in your confidence that things will work out. The best time to get over the hump "of what could go wrong" is to start when you get the inspiration and just go. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know, don't overthink things...they just keep putting one foot in front of the next. I have one friend who has built several successful businesses and I am certain he could build a an office tower with toothpicks simply by piling one after the other and being patient.

All the best!

Answered 6 years ago

Make yourself accountable to a 3rd party for the execution of your plan.

Clearly define what steps you will accomplish by what date and give that individual permission to not only follow up with you, but also give you tough love as needed.

It may also be helpful for you to speak with an objective party about these fear issues. Identifying the root of these fears will help to ensure that you overcome them, so that they do not continue to manifest in other ways even after you have implemented your plan.

If there are legitimate reasons for your concerns, you may need to seek the insights of a trusted adviser to shore up those areas of perceived weakness.

Schedule a call if you would like to explore this further.

Answered 6 years ago

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