In many ways, starting a new business is like learning to surf.
You Might Think It’s Easy
Standing on the beach watching some dude ripping a wave, you might think to yourself, “I can do that. I’m pretty athletic, good balance, I can ride a board. I’ll just paddle out there and shred some waves.”
Then comes reality, in the form of waves pounding you into the sand, holding you under and making you feel fear. You’re not even thinking about actually standing up on your surfboard and riding a wave, you’re battling just to deal with the situation you’re in.
Paddling Furiously, Going Nowhere
Paddling out for the first time in any moderate surf can be exhausting, frustrating and humbling. The ocean is infinitely more powerful than you. You can be paddling with everything you’ve got making no headway. You’re fighting a losing battle, and if you happen to get caught in the impact zone you’re absorbing blow after blow, getting knocked down, held under, tossed around. You resurface and get your bearings just in time to get crushed by the next wave.
You’re motivated to move your new business forward. You show up early. You leave late. You spend a lot of hours, and you feel busy. But where the hell are you actually going? Are you moving your business forward? There are thousands of things, are you doing the right ones? Starting a business often feels like you’re paddling furiously, going nowhere.
Just Getting Out There is Half the Battle
You make it out there, exhausted. You’re in the lineup. You think you’re ready to catch a wave. Then you realize there’s a lot more going on out here. Waves of course, but currents, tides, winds, guys whizzing by you with seemingly little effort. And other things you don’t even know about, like what’s underneath you.
“Am I in the right position? When should I actually go for it?”
You might not know all the answers, or exactly what to do next. And you still haven’t actually caught a wave, but you’re definitely NOT going to catch one from the beach. You’re out there, where you have to be to be in the action.
In business, you may have gotten your first product or service to the market. You have a way to get paid. People might even be interested in what you’re offering. You haven’t closed a deal, and you’re not sure exactly when or how that’s going to happen. But the fact is you are out there, in the lineup. You have something to sell and people can buy it.
There is Fear
Once you know what the ocean is capable of, there is fear. Fear of being held under and unable to breath. Fear of getting pounded, swept away, hurt, injured or killed. Fear or something bigger than you. Those waves can f*** you up, and you’ve tasted it.
You’re starting a business, that means you have to kill your own meat. There’s fear here, too. You are responsible for generating enough money for you and your business to survive. What if it doesn’t work? What if no one buys? What if the whole thing was a bad idea? What if you lose everything you’ve invested, and you fail?
But you still paddle out.
You Catch Your First Wave
At long last you catch your first wave. You feel it take you, the acceleration, the rush, the power of the wave beneath you. You realize why these guys do what they’re doing. And you can do it too.
In business, you make a sale. You close a deal. Someone pays you for what you’re offering. That gives you a taste of it, with a dash of confidence, and believe that this could work. You’re in business.
There Are Always Waves Big Enough to Scare You
You know what you’re doing now, you’ve been out there enough times to feel comfortable, and you’ve caught some waves. No matter what, there will be waves big enough to scare you.
There’s always something that can scare you in business. Ok, you’ve sold something now, done a lot of things, made a little money, you’ve got something going here. But what’s next? You just closed a huge deal, it feels great, but now you’re responsible for delivering.
New challenges await: hiring your first employee. Launching a new product. Paying taxes after your first year. (Hopefully not) getting sued. Moving your business forward.
You Can’t Wait For the Next Wave
You finally got that feeling. You’re excited and you love the rush. You start checking the surf report daily, you learn the best times to head out. When you get out there you’re confident, cool, collected. You react to whats happening and can deal with it. When you catch a wave you’re pumping down the line, you’re moving fast and you’re in control. You want more.
You close your first big deal, and you’re looking ahead. Your next product or service, your next big idea to grow your business, and how you’re going to do it. You have a vision for the future, and you want more.
They’re much alike, surfing and business. You can stand on the beach watching, or you can paddle out. You don’t truthfully know what’s going to happen, but nothing is going to happen if you’re not out there.