Fighting Your Inner Fear

fearJust 12 months ago, the venture capital funding environment in India was white hot. Anything and everything was getting funded. FOMO (fear of missing out) was everywhere, VCs didn’t want to miss the next Flipkart or Ola, so they opened up their checkbooks and just wrote check after check after check.

Then about 6 months ago, the markets started to turn and you would hear VCs talk about “unit economics” and asking startups about their path to profitability. These conversations were a bit awkward for those that were already in fund raising mode because overnight their decks had to change from “be present in every city at any cost” to “scale into new cities if the metrics make sense”.

Now, we are at a point where previously funded startups are having a very tough time raising a follow-on round. And, fear has set in. Fear is what holds most people back. Fear of speaking in front of 200 people, fear of asking a question at a meeting or fear of making a decision because of the implications, etc…

I believe your ability to manage your fear is what distinguishes successful people and separates the winners from the rest.

Many of the autobiographies I have read or the 100’s of startup podcasts I listen to, rarely talk about it. Instead, it’s always about a person’s connection, their college degree, their domain knowledge, their ability to identify a great market, etc… However, in any of these situations you will always run into roadblocks and at times you feel your startup’s progress is in jeopardy and then fear starts to creep in.

Over the past month I’ve fielded several calls from entrepreneurs who fear the current fund raising environment will kill their startup. They are not sure what to do, so I ask them what they are doing? The more they talk, the more it sounds like fear has set in and they are just doing busy work and hoping things will turn around.

That is absolutely the last thing you want to do. You might have what seems like an endless list of “shit that can go wrong”, forget that list and focus on the issues at hand. Such as get your app out there, focus on marketing, talk to your top 10 customers and understand their needs, etc… You should be fighting your inner fear head-on and doing things that are outside your comfort zone. That’s what makes someone successful vs. someone that is always talking about woulda, shoulda, coulda.

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