Many great ideas are never brought to creation because the creator worried that she didn’t have enough experience. It makes sense - businesses require a significant investment of time and money, which makes any hopeful entrepreneur first think that they need considerable business experience or a business education. And yet, we hear many stories about founders who did not have a lick of business acumen, and still built successful companies: founders like Sara Blakely, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Dell.
Perhaps all that’s separating us from them is the courage to go after it, but to cultivate this courage, a few steps can be taken. If you’re feeling self-conscious about your lack of experience but you do want to go after an idea that you think could be worthwhile, consider the following. You’re closer than you think to a solid launchpad to make your dream business soar.
1. Give Weight To Your Role As A Frustrated Consumer
Many entrepreneurs who do have a considerable amount of business experience start a business not because they see a company doing something they want to imitate, because they believe they can do it better. It’s actually better to not have experience in this case, because you’re likely leading from a place of customer dissatisfaction. You can’t find what you’re looking for in the market, so you want to make your own solution.
This is what Sara Blakely did with Spanx - she was a fax machine salesperson who was frustrated with options on the market for pantyhose. So she sought to solve her own problem, and created Spanx. Richard Branson got at the same theme in a blog post on how he started Virgin Airlines: "Think about changes you’d like to see as a customer – even if you’ve just noticed little details that need tweaking. Those little changes may add up to a big idea that leads to a new and truly disruptive product or service.” Branson had no experience in the airline industry, but he knew he could create a great product from his perspective as a consumer. Rather than worrying about all the experience you don’t have, think about your unique perspective. You want to develop your idea because there’s nothing else like it. That’s a great starting point.
2. Choose Your Belief In Your Company Over The Reasons You’re Scared
Next, realize that it’s no accident that you’ve continued to believe in your company idea. Self-belief is radical. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, believed so ardently in the Nike idea that nothing - not even all the people who told him to his face that he wouldn’t make it - derailed him from creating the world’s top shoe company. As he shared with CNBC, “We knew we could fail, we just didn’t think we would,” Knight said. “We loved doing what we were doing.” These same themes are part of what makes his book Shoe Dog so popular. It isn’t necessarily those who have plenty of experience that succeed in business - it’s those who aren’t fazed by anyone saying “no.”
A similar line of thought and radical self-belief propelled Zara Harutyunyan, founder of CRMC Aesthetics, when she was starting her business - the first business she had ever started. “I didn’t know the first thing about creating a company or entrepreneurship, and I had just moved to America, but I had a gut feeling that my idea would work,” she shared with me. “My belief in the vision of the company and how it would help people kept me going, even though I was learning as I went along and raising a family.” Harutyunyan’s company is now ranked 50th in the nation.
3. Take Advantage Of Recommended Resources
Finally, we live in an age of unbridled access to resources. If there’s a gap in your experience that you feel is holding you back, take to the Internet to find the answers. Ask entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and experiences for their best recommendations on online courses, books, and masterclasses. And for everything that you can’t learn online, seek to learn in a conversation. Call up entrepreneurs in your industry, or people who have done what you’re seeking to do before. Ask them for advice and what they wish they had known before they got started. They can easily be found on social media, and many of them are more than willing to talk with a budding entrepreneur. Or, they may have other resources they can point you to, such as podcast episodes where they shared their full story.
Once you start digging into the plethora of content, solidifying your idea, and leaning into your belief that the idea is worth it, you’ll learn that you have far more going for you than you thought. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t let a lack of experience hold you back.
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Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here. Stephanie Burns is the founder of Chic CEO, a resource for female entrepreneurs starting businesses. Download a free business plan template and follow Chic CEO on Twitter and Instagram