Are you betting on yourself to fail?

by Tara Agacayak on August 15, 2017

Last week someone in the Creative Impact Studio community asked about startup funding, so I used that to start a discussion on startup funding, asking how other women in the community have funded the startup of their companies.

Community members have mentioned a number of different options including:

  • Bank loans
  • Private investors
  • Venture capital
  • Credit cards
  • Private loans from friends or family
  • Grants
  • Savings
  • Retirement accounts
  • Crowdfunding
  • Deferred compensation
  • Income from a full-time or part-time job or side-hustle
  • Taking on equity partners

If you’d like to see the full discussion, join the Creative Impact Studio community. An invite-only community of women leading the companies, teams and movements that make our lives better.

With this article, I’d like to take this discussion one step further.

I’ve been having conversations with men and women in various stages of launching their ideas or growing their companies and I’m seeing two different patterns.

One is the pattern where a person bets on herself to win, the other where she bets on herself to lose.

Betting on yourself to lose

Here is what it looks like when someone bets on themselves to lose.

When we start talking about their idea – either to launch or to scale – and we look at the financial plan and what it will take to fund the growth, they feel uncomfortable.

When we start to run through the list above, people start to say things like:

  • I can’t do that
  • I don’t want to go into debt
  • It’s not smart to use credit cards for that
  • I’m maxed out because I’m helping (add family member’s name here) pay for (add expense here)
  • Investors don’t understand my idea
  • I don’t know how to write a business plan to attract a partner
  • I don’t want to use my savings

The conversation often turns into a contingency plan.

What if my idea fails? What if I can’t make it happen? What if the economy turns? What if XYZ requires more money than I have and I can’t move forward?

And all their creative energy goes into thinking about how they’ll deal with failure rather than thinking about what they need to do to put together a plan for success.

And since they are focused on failure, they can’t stomach the thought of putting some of their startup costs on a credit card, or taking money out of savings, or borrowing money, or trying to figure out how to explain their idea in a way they could get investor support.

Betting on yourself to win

For the people I talk to who bet on themselves to win, the conversation is different. It’s a conversation about action steps and possibilities.

What would be possible if your idea succeeds? What would be possible if the vision you have for a company that helps people learn better, live healthier, sell better, feel more empowered, eat well, enjoy art and culture, feel safer, protect their children were to be realized?

When I have a conversation with someone who allows themselves to see the possible results of what they are creating, and we can look at what happens when they create a plan and take actions toward that vision and when they don’t, they begin to see what they are giving up when they bet on themselves to lose versus win.

When someone allows themselves to see what’s possible and can see the steps to creating it are simple – though not necessarily easy – they start to believe in themselves to take those steps. And when they can get there, they become more open to what they need to do to receive funding for their idea.

I’ve been on both sides

I recognize each place because I’ve been in both places.

I’ve been in the place where my coach was showing me what was possible if I walked down a specific path, if I took specific steps, I could reach my goal.

When I didn’t believe I could take those steps, I wanted other people to tell me it would be ok.  I wanted other people to believe in me instead of me believing in myself.

I came up with contingency plans for what I would do if it didn’t work out – I could go ask my dad for money to bail me out (again), I could teach English, I could hole myself up and pay the minimums on my credit card. All kinds of worst-case scenarios.

Until I learned that my brain is great at creative activities, and any task I gave it, it would come up solutions.

When I asked myself: what if I fail? – it would give me failure scenarios.

When I asked: what do I need to do to succeed? –  it started giving me answers to that problem.

So slowly, I decided to allow myself to get inspired by my vision and allow myself to believe that I could take the steps toward making it happen.

I learned to make contingency plans based on Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, but not Plan F (Fail).

I believed in the cognitive power of my brain to process scenario that led to solutions and I believed in the greater purpose that I was being guided to lead.

So, since I know both sides, I can help guide people through both conversations and help them see how important it is to them to succeed, what resources they have available to support them, and what their vision will look like once it’s realized.

I’m delighted this week to be talking more about how to strategize a funding and growth strategy along with building sustainable and scalable systems.

I give free training every week in the Creative Impact Studio – an invitation-only community for the women leading companies, teams and movements making our lives better.

Get your personal invitation to join here and catch the free training live, or get access to the replay in the Resource Library. Free to you when you join the community.

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