On believing in your project or business

Entrepreneurship is a tricky thing, and success is a coveted reward. As a result, no matter how much you believe in your idea, there will be plenty of people who want to see you fail. That isn’t meant to sound melodramatic, it’s just that  while people enjoy a good success story, they also like to see people crash and burn. The former inspires them to feel like they can do anything, whereas the latter reminds them that its ok to be a mere mortal.

Of course, not everyone is going to be on a personal mission to sabotage your every move, but equally in life there aren’t that many handouts. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and you do have to make your own luck. (And with that, I’ve just exhausted my quota of cliches)

You will (hopefully) have the support of friends and family in your venture – and you will need them to succeed, but this won’t always be enough. You may also need investment from third-parties, or advice from other professionals. The phrase “people buy from people” is a well used one in many circles. How many of you have heard of (or even witnessed) someone with a great idea, but they didn’t get investment because they weren’t a nice person – they just didn’t feel right?

Hold on a second. Why is that even a measure? They don’t ‘feel’ right, or they ‘lacked passion’, or ‘the product was good, but I didn’t believe in the person’. These things should have no bearing on whether or not your product should appeal to investors. What matters is the hundred of hours of market research you’ve done, the countless prototypes you’ve made, the minute attention to detail you’ve put into your product. These are things that determine success, surely? Who cares what you’re like as a person, or how much passion you have?

Well, it turns out pretty much everybody – including those investors. When you think about it, it’s not that hard to understand why. A lot of investors don’t just put their money into your idea, they also put in their time. If you’ve ever seen Dragons Den, you’ll know that the Dragons put a lot of stock in the characteristics of the individual, and on more than one occasion they have put offers on not only the product in the room, but for a number of – at the time hypothetical – subsequent products. They do this not just because they have faith in the showcased item, but because they believe that the individual trying to sell it will be a good business partner.

Sticking with Dragons Den for a moment, you may have heard of Reggae Reggae Sauce, a caribbean inspired condiment that received an investment from the programme. If you haven’t seen the pitch, I urge you to check it out. In short, what Levi Roots did was deliver his pitch as a song, with a guitar accompanyment, that he’d written. It was obvious from the get-go that he loved his product, and his confident and assured approach to selling it told us that he believed in himself. He got the funding, and the rest, as they say, is history (oh look, I had one more cliche left in me afterall).

So you’re a likable and trustworthy person, and you are passionate about what you are doing. Great! You’re well on your way to becoming fantastically wealthy. Success, though, still isn’t guaranteed. We all know famous examples of people who, at the start of their careers, couldn’t seem to catch a break. From The Beatles to JK Rowling, history will always be littered with examples that, in retrospect, have made fools of the first people they went to. This wasn’t because what they were trying to sell was bad, but because it was believed that ‘guitar groups are on the way out’, or ‘people won’t want to read books about wizards’.

It’s in this scenarios where believing in yourself couldn’t be more important. You’ve done your homework, you’ve created something that you love, and you’re damn good at what you do. Make sure you remember that, even while other people apparently fail to see it. People will reject your idea, and it will sometimes be an incredibly demoralising ordeal, but by believing in yourself, in your product, and in your team you’ll be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and try again until you succeed.

To take a slightly different angle from this, you might want to check out this TED talk by Simon Sinek about why people buy products. The angle is different, but the message is the same – you need to believe in yourself and know why you are taking on this challenge. Whether it’s a project, a campaign, a business, or something else entirely, you need to first be able to sell the why. And for that you need to believe.

And if you need more convincing to stay the course, just think what would have happened to the music world if the Beatles had listened to the people that rejected them.