What do you get when you are starting up a business and you mix your fear of going bankrupt with the fear of losing your current career, with a pinch of lack of support from your family, and topped off with little experience and low self-esteem? Experts participating in research for FACE Entrepreneurship identified those as the most common fears entrepreneurs face when starting up and concluded that prospective entrepreneurs often suffer from an emotional fear-cocktail that leads to a broad fear of losing it all when starting a new company.
That was the topic addressed at the sixth FACE Entrepreneurship event “FACE Utrecht – Entrepreneurship: Trial & Error” held on May 27th at Campus Party in Utrecht, where three entrepreneurship experts shared their experiences dealing with these fears when starting up.
There is no one formula for every business or every customer
The Netherlands is becoming one of the main startup hubs in Europe, as was proved by the Startup Fest Europe last week with thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs, developers, hackers, investors and innovators getting together to boost technology and startups. FACE Entrepreneurship had the chance to dive into it and hold its sixth event “FACE Utrecht – Entrepreneurship: Trial & Error” at Campus Party Europe in Utrecht, one of the biggest technology and innovation events in the world.
Stefan Tan, co-founder of the stock-image provider Dashmote, moderated a panel with three entrepreneurship experts that came together to speak about their fears when embarking on entrepreneurial adventures. They all agreed that, as each startup has its own story, each founder has different fears.
Josipa Majic, founder of Teddy the Guardian –the first smart teddy bear to monitor a child's well-being– recognized that her biggest fear came from her closest friends and family. “My parents simply thought this was the stupidest decision I ever made and it was perceived as the equivalent of social suicide. When I first started they kept on telling me: please, get a job, you can do it, there are banks, and there is Germany, and Switzerland… you can always go there, but please, don’t do this,” this Croatian entrepreneur shared with the attendees. However, she decided to go after her project and when her loved ones saw she was happy, they entirely supported her.
José Ildefonso, founder of First Vision –a wearable broadcast system that immerses fans into the game through the athletes' point of view– recognized that his main fear was related to both social and career fears. This Spanish entrepreneur had a successful career and he was worried about disappointing his family and friends after changing his professional path. “If I developed a product and nobody liked it, what would have happened? I would have disappointed all the people who love me.” Similarly to Josipa’s experience, José eventually gained his family’s backing. “My mother still doesn’t understand what I do but, as every mother, she wants the best for me and supports me.”
The International Manager of Sociograph Neuromarketing Daniel Ramos, a technology to measure and analyze people’s attention and emotions, explained that the biggest fear of the company’s founders was whether, after spending 10 years researching, there would be a market for the technology they developed. Nowadays and after some very quick growth, their main challenge ahead is to be able to accommodate the high demand they are getting from clients.
When talking about fear of failure, all the speakers concluded that failing fast is always important, but there is no one formula for every business, every customer or every project.
Money is important, but definitely not the most important thing
One young attendee claimed she wants to start up a business but she is worried about how to keep paying her rent. Josipa encouraged her to at least give it a go, set a time limit and, if it doesn’t work, she could always go back to a normal job. “Do your best and, if it doesn’t work, at least you would have a great experience that would look awesome on your CV,” she said.
Even though all the speakers agreed with the importance of funding, they also concurred it’s not the most important thing. According to José, money is not the main problem, but resources. “You can get many resources by just asking people and bootstrapping. (…) Before getting money you can start researching and looking for a partner”, he assessed. Daniel Ramos was also reluctant about having investors before the product is developed. “Investors are going to tell you how to do things and we want to do it in our own way, so we need to survive with our own money and profit,” he said. Meanwhile, Josipa argued “building a realistic business model and being honest with your team and yourself about why are you doing this in the first place is way more important than getting money.”
Coping with fear is always easier if you have a co-founder
All the speakers agreed with the relevance of the team and concluded that you can have a great idea, but it can easily fail if you don’t have a good team to develop it. Also, having a co-founder with whom to share the journey makes everything a lot easier. “You can’t know everything or be good at everything, so you need to find someone who equilibrates your skills,” José said. “You can’t imagine how much time and experiences you will have with that person, so getting a co-founder is an extremely important decision,” explained Josipa. “You can do it on your own, but it’s a very long way, so it’s always better if you can share it with someone”, concluded Daniel.
Measuring the emotions of attendees
During the event, attendees had the chance to wear the neuromarketing gloves developed by SocioGraph that measured their emotions and reactions. Elena Martin, co-founder and CEO of Sociograph, analyzed the results at the end of the panel, concluding that the participants’ attention was very steady throughout the event and their emotions reached peaks during the video presentations of each product.
After the panel, speakers and attendees had the chance to share their ideas during a networking session that proved the point of FACE Entrepreneurship events: overcoming your fears is way easier when you speak out about your doubts and concerns.