However, we are still far away from the end goal, which ultimately will be creating the option to leave the daily job and focus solely on your own business.
If you want to launch your side business, one of the issues you mustn’t ignore is that one thing is assembling a team and another totally different thing is, actually, launching the business. This might seem straightforward, right?
The hard part should be selecting an idea and finding the right team. Nevertheless, what statistics and own experience tell us is that close to 100% of the projects initiated in the spare time never see the daylight.
Why does this happen? Why does the team start so motivated, and as the days go by, the level of excitement gradually starts to vanish, until a point nobody cares anymore about the project?
In this article we will focus on what are the main psychological reasons behind the failure of so many entrepreneurship projects, so that we can not only apply several ideas directly to our project or to a future one, but also understand the context of the upcoming article (Chapter 5) that will deep dive into what are the characteristics the teams must have in order to successful launch a business and overcome these barriers.
The 4 psychological barriers
#1 The feeling of injustice
One of the most common issues in starting a business is related to a feeling of injustice that starts arising amongst the team members.
But why injustice, you may wonder? After all, the partners are all on the same boat and everyone is crucial to the ultimate goal: creating a successful business. I mean, no one is getting paid or whatsoever, they all have to place their personal time into the project and all the rules of the game are established.
So why does this injustice feeling arise so often?
Well, let me initially state that, based on my own experience, this feeling might be a combination of injustice and ingratitude. But for the sake of simplicity, let us just call it ‘the feeling of injustice’.
It is based on the fallacious idea that everyone should be putting the number of hours and effort correspondent to their equity stake in the company.
And then you can also add the ingratitude feeling, that comes from a notion that you’re giving someone an incredible opportunity to make something great out of his life, that is not used, given the low level of effort, which ultimately would mean they show no respect for your gift.
This is absolutely the main reason why so many groups begin accumulating tension.
The feeling of injustice doesn’t suddenly arise from night to day, it is built from multiple situations that ultimately create a snowball effect, eventually leading to a major argument. Especially if you’re creating a business project with friends, I must warn you: it might get personal.
So what exactly happens?
The main causes of the injustice feeling are related with how the group members evaluate the others’ effort based on the number of hours they put into the project.
As soon as the comparison takes place, the partners will start evaluating whether a member is allocating the right effort for the equity stake he owns.
Naturally that this phenomenon is aggravated when the equity is split equally, because now I am comparing the other’s effort with my own; and let’s be honest, if I’m comparing working hours, there might be a good chance that I feel I’m the one working harder.
You see, this snowball is completely related to the human being tendency to compare himself with others.
We tend to rationalise that if I am suffering by allocating hours of my personal life into this business project, I demand the others to do exactly the same.
I’d like to briefly introduce what, in my opinion, are the main issues related to this approach and that we will analyse in order to create a solution, in the next article:
- Focusing in the comparison is in the human nature (ex: Facebook business);
- Thinking that working hours are the criteria that measure value to the project;
- Giving too much importance to equity stakes from the get-go.
Well, as you know, the natural consequence of such approach is, undoubtedly, the end of the project, perhaps with further impacts on the partners’ relationships, namely if they are friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it is easy to stop comparing and judging, I have done that mistake many times in the past, and it’s one of the many lessons I take from my experiences.
What I’ve realised about this issue is that our evaluation criterion is not up to date with reality. There simply are multiple other ways to perceive the value added to a group rather than just counting the number of hours.
#2 Losing the long term vision
When we’re talking about creating a business on the side, we cannot ignore the implicit reality that everyone has a full-time job withdrawing quite a lot of daily energy and attention.
These guys who are truly remarkable, because they are willing to allocate their personal time into the creation of something new, have daily concerns as everyone else, such as their bosses demanding requests, colleagues to deal with, deadlines, family issues, bills to pay, sometimes children, etc.
Additionally, we mustn’t forget that creating a business is definitely not a short a cut to live a rich life. It takes time and a lot of ‘sweat’. And in order for ‘wantrepreneurs’ to successfully launch a business, they must endure all their daily concerns, that won’t suddenly get out of the way, plus their startup team expectations on them, and all these while keeping a fresh and bright long-term vision for their lives.
Well, needless to say, for a majority of people it is tough to keep a fresh and bright long-term vision for a long period of time, as we, human beings, are always looking for some instantaneous or short term gratification for our efforts. In our own minds, it is not biologically accepted by default, to work so many days, months or even years on something without seeing any kind of payback.
Given this, the levels of motivation tend to decrease with the time, eventually leading to a simple disinterest on the project. People lose the end game sight, as their minds are lost in the forest of daily issues, and gradually allocate less and less time to the side business project.
The third reason is our old and treacherous friend – Procrastination.
Yes, in everything we do and in everything we are, procrastination will always be our shadow. That temptation to delay what is necessary and important that tends to influence our entire life path.
As you know, creating a business is not an easy task, nothing that really matter is. It involves a lot of sacrifices and unbreakable personal commitment. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither are businesses. It is a long way and every day we must have the discipline to walk a bit.
Naturally, finding the necessary discipline might represent an issue because no one is every day in his best mood and we cannot work only on the ‘sunny days’, as I’m sure you know.
This is why having the right discipline mindset to fight procrastination is absolutely crucial in order to build momentum.
Momentum is this physics’ notion originally introduced by Isaac Newton that basically means ‘that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force’.
Applied to our entrepreneurship reality, the Newton’s law illustrates that it is easier to work every single day and to keep doing it almost without any additional effort, such as the body in motion. At the same time, it is much harder to get back to work once we stop. The body at rest will remain at rest unless an external force acts on it.
Moreover, I’d like to share with you another concept that is intrinsically related to procrastination and the way we take options in our life.
I don’t want to sound vague, but this might be a bit theoretical: with all our daily urgent issues to solve, the large majority of us tend to focus our energy on what is urgent, rather than what is important and that isn’t necessarily urgent. Consequentially, because we are so burned out from the stress required to handle the urgent issues, quite often, on the spare time, we opt to do something that is absolutely irrelevant to what we’re really seeking in life.
Have you ever felt like you rush every day to solve urgent issues and keep delaying what’s really important to you? I find this quite interesting, to be honest. Give it a thought.
Well, you see, creating a business is definitely not urgent, as our boss or our family won’t be demanding it from us, right? But isn’t it important to us? Isn’t that what we are really looking for? It can change all our life’s path and provide us with a level of fulfillment that few things on earth can.
However, it is fascinating to see how so many people keep on delaying the important stuff they treasure.
You can learn more about this subject, if you find it interesting, by reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – I deeply enjoyed this book as it changed my way of thinking in so many aspects and added new perspectives, such as this one related to doing what’s urgent and not important.
But, after all, why are these theories relevant to successfully launch a business?
Not respecting the power of momentum and not having the discipline to deal with the important issues, rather than the urgent ones, is a huge reason why most projects don’t see the daylight.
Let’s look at some simple and tiny examples that ultimately lead to a snowball effect:
How often do we see the most motivated member of a team trying to gather the group in order for them to work on the project and one or two guys don’t appear at the meeting because something more urgent arose and locked their agendas?
In a worst case scenario, this would be the typical default mentality: ‘Hm, today I don’t feel like going to work on the project. I’m exhausted and should just go home, I’m sure they can handle it without me.’
Another typical example is when you have tasks to complete and members do not deliver on time.
If there’s something to be delivered on Monday, they might delay it until Wednesday, because on Monday this super urgent meeting suddenly appeared and locked their agenda, so they could only work on Tuesday. Of course, they could have worked on the weekend, but come on, the previous work week was really demanding, they were too tired and had to rest. Besides, their families wanted to go for a small trip, ‘they couldn’t say no’.
You see, procrastination is truly our treacherous friend; our brain makes us believe that we need to do something else rather than working on what’s really important to us and that might have a profound impact on our lives.
Creating a business is no different. It is something that many people desire but lacks the discipline to say ‘No!’ more often and focus on what needs to be done.
Every time we’re delaying what’s important to us, whether because we choose what is easy or urgent, the important is being delayed and, hence, we’re constantly breaking momentum, until a given point in which it is already too heavy to put the body back in motion. From a leadership perspective, I call this ‘keeping the pace’. I’ve found that keeping a constant pace is one of the most important things in creating a business – more on this in the upcoming article.
You can’t imagine how many times I’ve seen this phenomenon: a great team starts working on an interesting business idea, but they never get to launch the product, the development takes ages, sometimes years, up to a point in which the project isn’t officially over, but the group doesn’t talk about it anymore.
#4 Comfort Zone
Finally, the last main reason why projects never get out of the paper is called Comfort Zone.
You can call this idea Comfort Zone, but some people also like to call it the Absence of Despair. It directly derives from the biological fact that the human being to dislike to get out of the comfort zone and that, quite often, the ‘wantrepreneurs’ are never obliged by life conditions to make the side business project a success, as they always have something to fall back on.
As you know, most people are never in a rush to start a business, it isn’t urgent because they see their full-time job as the real deal that brings them safety. The part-time project is a dream that, most likely, will never become reality.
And I can definitely understand that. The need for security is extremely important, it is the human being’s top priority according to the Maslow Pyramid. But some years ago I’ve read an article that mentioned how security was the exact opposite of potential.
Give it a thought, this is quite interesting.
For instance, your parents will always want you to be safe. For that reason, everything that goes out of the ordinary and safe is usually a matter of concern to them. What they don’t know is that often the security means an empty life for their children.
Let’s delve a little bit on this subject: I have one relative that has been working for some time in this large and conservative company. From what I can recall, this job has always been his bottleneck. For so many years he has been completely exhausted by the old fashioned things he sees on a daily basis.
Whenever I talk to him, I constantly encourage him to find a new job, wouldn’t you do the same? I try to help him providing some tips and humble advice on how to take the plunge, but can you believe he won’t send a single CV to another company?
He always tells me there’s too much at stake like it is some kind of crime to search for a better life.
So for years, he has been claiming about his professional life but doesn’t dare to try to change a single piece. Why does this happen?
My best guess:
- He already faces this terrible professional life as something that is acceptable to him;
- He is too comfortable with his current life and is scared to death of trying anything new.
Just to summarise it, the fourth main reason why so many people give up on the parallel projects they have, it’s not because they do not think it’s what they really want from life, it’s because their current status is too comfortable, and as soon as they have to make a tiny choice between being completely submerged in their same old usual, or something fresh and important, they will opt for the easiest path – the comfort zone.
There’s nothing wrong with it, we all choose the easiest path from time to time, but we got to face the reality, it will hardly bring any fulfillment in the long term.