I’ve written about this before, and I’ll probably write about it again since it’s something I’m still getting used to myself – You really do have to try and put yourself into uncomfortable situations on a daily basis. “Successful people do what everyone else is unwilling to do.” For introverted tech entrepreneurs, it’s really getting out there and getting your product in front of people and networking with as many people as possible. I’ve been working on this aspect for 5 years, and am finally starting to overcome my fear for it.
So, what makes this so uncomfortable for me? Why does getting in front of people and getting my product out there bother me so much? I think Chris Dixon nails it on the head in his post, it’s the fear of rejection. Rejection hits a primal feeling of being inadequate and not being “good enough” and it totally f*’s with your mind. One technique that really has been helping me is a technique I picked up in Tim Ferris’ book the 4 hour work week. When I’m about to do something that scares the bejeezus out of me, I envision getting rejected (and failing) and I imagine my life a year from now, now that I got rejected. Usually, the rejection has no truly damaging effect on my life; it’s inconsequential. From what I’ve seen in the last 4 – 5 years, it really has played out this way. Now I envision, what happens if everything goes right – and wow, my life a year from now could be quite awesome!
When I started running a development shop 5 years ago, I was SO SCARED about pitching a high rate for the work UDFI was doing. But you know what happened? I started asking for higher rates and I got MORE work. I definitely got some emails asking if I was insane and rejecting my bids, but I can’t remember who it was from or what company it was…. in other words, it was inconsequential. It really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and I actually got more work from raising my rates!
I’m starting to see that same pattern now as I start getting feedback from people about Snpptz. In the beginning I was definitely scared to get feedback. I would think, ‘OMG, what are they going to say? What if they say it sucks balls?’ Then I picture the worst possible scenario in my head – a person laughing his ass of at my product, saying it sucks balls. So, where am I a year from now if the start-up really does suck balls? Probably making money as a programmer from the experience I gained developing the product. Hmmm… not to bad. Interestingly enough, what I actually get back from most people I talk to is awesome feedback about the product and better ways to improve it!
The other thing I mentioned is getting out there and meeting people and networking. I think this is the toughest part and the part where quite honestly, where I’ve failed before in the past – starting to build relationships. This is absolutely HUGELY, SUPER IMPORTANTE, QUADRUPLE STAR important. Everything that I’ve seen/heard/read about comes down to this, it’s all about who you know in the start-up scene. You need to meet people. If you’ve got a VC dad, then you probably don’t, but if you’re like me, a person who’s come from a middle class family, with really no connections in the industry, you need to get out there to meet people.
So what’s the best way to do this? For me it’s getting directed feedback on Snpptz and then making sure they’re always in the loop later. Another HUGELY, SUPER IMPORTANTE, QUADRUPLE STAR point – MAKE SURE YOU LISTEN AND GIVE THEM FEEDBACK. When I say feedback, I mean show them you’re listening. Show them that what they’ve said means something to you. I’ve gotten questions in the past and have sat down with people to talk about their ideas. But it’s like they just wanted to talk for the sake of talking and didn’t even pay attention to what I was saying. It made it feel like it was a huge waste of my time. So don’t make it feel like it was a waste of their time. Even if you disagree with them, at least write something out explaining why you disagree and why you went the other direction.
Hopefully this has helped some readers. If any entrepreneurs out there are going through some of this, feel free to email me or write in the comments. I love talking about ways to overcome these fears. If you have some tips of your own, I’d love to hear them!