Below you’ll find our second podcast - where we delve deep into the range of expectations faced in starting a new business . Rising to the challenge is no easy task. Andy Wright pens this week's article, an insight into how to stick to your guns when all eyes are on you.
Words by Andy Wright
––– The word ‘expectation’ is always so loaded. I mean it’s pretty tough on its own, but moreso when it’s accompanied with adjectives like higher, weighty and great. Even ‘positive’ expectations can’t be considered without the 'negative’. And don’t get me started on ‘managing’ them.
Expectations set you up for two things. Achievement, or failure. There’s no real middle ground. So take that into account when you decide to start up a new business, bring a new person into the world, or move into a new neighbourhood. These are all things I’ve tackled in the last 18 months - and I’m still here, alive and kicking.
We’ve all lived with expectations pretty much from day dot. I know that now, even if I didn’t know then. Because I’m sure I’m guilty of exactly the same expectations my parents had of me.
"Expectations set you up for two things. Achievement, or failure. There’s no real middle ground."
Why isn’t he talking yet? Why isn’t she counting past 20 yet? Thoughts I’ve literally had in the last week. Isn’t that a bit unfair? My kids are 3 and 1. Imagine they knew what I expected of them? They’d be nervous wrecks, crumbling under the weight of my lofty expectations of my own flesh and blood. Trying to live up to the ideals of who I thought I was, or who I should have been.
I know it won’t stop there. My kids will only have greater expectations placed upon them, the more excited I get as they grow and make their mark on the world. But is that such a bad thing?
It’s easy to get crushed by the weight of expectation. Cue gif of anvil missing roadrunner and dropping onto Wiley Coyote’s bruised and battered forehead. But not if you believe. Believe in what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and that those with the expectation, just want you to achieve it.
Starting a new business has more expectations than a Charles Dickens fancy dress party. Like:
“When will we be paid?"
“You’re the single biggest threat to our business. I can’t wait to see what you guys come out with."
“When are we going to move into a cool space?"
“When will we be able to go out and buy curry for lunch again?"
All of these questions are well meaning (I hope). I mean I wonder if the ‘single biggest threat to our business’ is passive aggressive industry sledging - I don’t think it is, but you never know - and many of them just come out of caring and giving a sh!t.
"But what if the expectation is that you shouldn’t need investment or an uber lord holding company. Why not aim to be profitable from day one?"
Expectations are also formed from different perspectives and experiences. Take the expectation of what’s necessary to startup a new business. In early discussions about your new venture you may very quickly get to sources of funding and investment. But what if the expectation is that you shouldn’t need investment or an uber lord holding company. Why not aim to be profitable from day one?
I thought it would be useful to provide a guide on how to cope with expectations. Indeed, the whole point of By The People is to provide a resource for all those having a crack on their own or at least contemplating it.
“Don’t compromise anything because if feels too hard. Intentionally pick on the hard stuff. The hard stuff is more rewarding, because it’s more challenging.”
So here we go. 6 ways to handle the great expectations of starting up a new business.
“Don’t ask too many questions"
I find questions just get in the way. They place too much focus on what you don’t know and not enough on what you do know. When you’re feeling the weight of expectation, you’re usually faced with the ‘do you know what you’re doing’ question. It’s a great way to stop yourself before you get started. Ignore it. If you got to this point you’ve got the guts and the smarts to figure it out as you go. Sure you’ll make some mistakes, but everyone does. .
"Perfect practice makes perfect"
An old tennis coach of mine gave me some advice that I've always remembered. It was that no matter how often you practice hitting a tennis ball against a wall - you're never going to play a wall. If you want to practice to win you've got to go and play for real. Practice everything in a real game against real people under real conditions. The same is true for this game. The only way to get better is to go out there and do it for real. Don't sit at home or in your current job thinking over the plan or practising your pitch. Get out there and do it for yourself. It's the only way you'll know if you're getting it right or wrong.
"Trust your loved ones"
Soppy, emotional, deep? That's not really me to be honest. But I can tell you from living through this experience that there are 1 or 2 people who will always have your back. And you will take them for granted way too often. Sometimes I caveat this with "they don't really get my business or industry” or "they don't get what I'm trying to do." But you know what. It's irrelevant. They get you. And they believe in you. And they expect that you'll do the right thing. Trust them, believe in them and always know that they want what's best for you and for you to succeed. Remember that when you're tired, cranky and behaving like Alf Stewart in that Snickers ad - "you flamin' galah!"
You can’t hide from expectations. You can only rise or fall. Give it a go, take your chances, trust in those around you and believe in yourself. And have some fun. You’re the boss. The only person who’s going to kick your ass is you.