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Adii Pienaar

Now working on PublicBeta. Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Scared To Start?

Thinking about starting or joining a startup? It's pretty scary, right?

Good news is that you're not alone in that notion. Fear (of failure) is generally quite a prevalent reason why many people never attempt many things. For would-be entrepreneurs that fear of failure is many times the ultimate stumbling block to failure.


I was talking to good friends of mine (who are fellow entrepreneurs) last night about the things that they were working on at the moment. It was obvious from what they were saying that they had fears about certain things; many of which were holding them back on even trying.

So I told them that I'm absolutely no different.

Heck, I've recently decided to start up again. And I'm scared shitless.

Yes, I have a major success (WooThemes) under my belt and can fall back on the experience that this has given me. This success has also lead to me growing a fantastic base of mentors / friends who are able to help / guide me on this journey.

I'm also fortunate to be self-funding (and bootstrapping) the new venture from our personal savings. So I've only got my own money to risk.

And in theory my track record should make it more probable for me to succeed again. (Even if it's just by 1%.)

That doesn't mean that I'm not scared and that I don't have fears. For quite some time (whilst I was considering what to work on post-WooThemes), I found myself in limbo and unable to pull the trigger on venturing out into the unknown again.

During this period of limbo, I would write about the things (that could become stumbling blocks) that shouldn't matter when you're starting up. I also wrote about how nothing should prevent you from starting up.

Yet, I struggled to pull that trigger myself. Hypocrite.


Eventually I got over that limbo though and I wanted to share with you the things I did to help me make the jump to start PublicBeta:

  • I figured out that my true passion is helping other entrepreneurs and that I simply had to be working on something that I could be 150% passionate about.

  • I realised that life is way too short and that regrets come too easy. I decided that I wanted to swing for the fences a few times still before my time eventually comes to an end.

  • I decided that the risk of failure and the realisation that failure will mean I lose quite a bit of cash, isn't a real risk. I made the decision to believe that I'm young and able enough to recover from such a blow.

  • Done is better than perfect. I know Facebook uses this mantra to ship code, but for me this means something totally different. I don't believe that it's possible for me to be perfect and all of the stars will never align for me to start up in ideal circumstances. So I'll accept imperfections and I'll do my best to not be limited by those.

  • I have my wife by my side, which means I have my biggest supporter and cheerleader on board for this new journey. She is my unofficial co-founder and she'll be the one keeping my impulsiveness in check or the one to rubbish bad excuses (for not executing).

After all of this, I can remember the day that I listened to the Eventual Millionaire interview with Dan Martell, where Dan was blunt in his advice to entrepreneurs: JFDI.


What I'm trying to tell you here is that working on a startup is a very personal decision based on what you want or don't want for yourself.

No amount of money will help you make the decision. The size of your network or having Mark Zuckerberg's personal phone number won't make you become less fearful of failure. And past experience (success or failure) won't be the determining factor in whether you'll succeed in future.

You make that decision yourself.

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