Alone in my car, I screamed “no!” out loud as Colleen told Michele that, just as she was approaching the milestone of 100 trial signups for her new SaaS app, she considered quitting altogether.
Colleen Schnettler and Michele Hansen are the hosts of Software Social Podcast, a weekly show that’s become one of my favorite glimpses into the reality of starting and running a small, independent software business.
During the episode in question, Colleen – a software consultant working on her first paid app of her own – confides in her friend and cohost Michele that she kept thinking her app was a “terrible idea”…even though she was well on her way to the milestone of 100 trial signups.
The cognitive dissonance was real, and palpable!
My overly reactive outburst wasn’t just for Colleen (who couldn’t hear me, clearly, podcasts are a one way medium, audio-wise).
But the truth is that Amy and I see our business students fall into this very particular form of self-sabotage ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME.
It’s not just A trap. It’s THE trap.
As Michele begins to confidently talk her friend away from the ledge of premature quitting, Colleen mentions an article that “perfectly described” what she was going through. Almost perfectly accurate, in fact.
That deeply resonant article happened to be one of Amy’s most famous screeds, titled “Why women entrepreneurs fail.”
Colleen notes how truly seen she felt as she read it. Slightly called out, and not wanting to fall into this particular trope.
But also motivated, knowing that her feelings were not only normal but rather common. She finished the article confident, and back on track.
Moments later, she mentions that there was another article that helped her understand the source of her anxiety. That second article, to my pleasant surprise, was my own piece on “The Fear of Beginning again.”
From her perspective, it was like we’d written these pieces with Colleen specifically in mind, which she knew was technically impossible without time travel and/or mind reading.
After finishing their podcast episode, I couldn’t help but want to unpack the layerrssssss of lessons at play here.
So I’m gonna go rapid fire here, and share the 9 key lessons that you can take away from the episode, and my meta-response!
Colleen begins by mentioning a “fear of failure,” but in my experience, people that hit a milestone and then consider bailing actually experience “fear of success.”
On the surface, “fear of success” sounds like it makes NO sense at all, but it typically tracks to a feeling of “well shit, if this works I’m on the hook.”
The entire world of childhood, school, & corporate life shows us that when we hit milestones, a) everyone celebrates you and b) someone appears to show you the next step.
Meanwhile, in entrepreneurship – and honestly, most of real life – neither of these are likely to happen. You have to choose your own next steps, and find your own ways to celebrate.
Self doubt is normal. It’s your brain protecting you from yourself.
This is not a bug, it’s a feature! The trick is to ask yourself what your brain protecting you from. Is that thing actually dangerous?
99% of the time…it’s not. Which means you can safely ignore that voice.
Amy and I didn’t write our articles for Colleen. But at the same time, we did. Think about that for a minute.
This is the power of writing online, especially the ebomb format driven by Sales Safari research. Your words today, if you share them publicly, can help unknowable numbers of people in the future. That’s true power.
There are many factors that lead to success and failure. Neither are 100% predictable.
However, 100% of the people who achieve a tiny level of success and then stop, do not succeed.
If this is a pattern you recognize in yourself, and changing it is within your control.
“I have to throw this away and start from scratch” is an reaction that creators have often, mostly when they don’t know what to do next.
It’s probably the most common form of self sabotage.
Better choice? “Change one thing and try again.”
Uncertainty is not danger. Uncertainty isn’t even always risk! Your brain thinks it is, but it’s not.
In fact, uncertainty is guaranteed, because certainty is a lie that we tell ourselves to feel like we’re in control.
It’s endlessly valuable to surround yourself with people who will talk you out of your own bullshit. They can save your income, your career, maybe even your life.
If you’re doing this alone, it’s like playing a game on the hardest mode, for no extra points awarded.
Everyone says “business is hard,” but business is pretty straightforward to learn and do in the grand scheme of things. I know this because I see people way dumber than you and me doing just fine.
Managing yourself, your emotions, and your decisions? THAT is hard.
So go listen to the Software Social podcast and subscribe.
Do the work and be kind to yourself. Til next time. ✌️
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