Many people struggle with it. Especially entrepreneurs in Europe, where it’s “not done” to fail and where the underdog always gets the sympathy. Or perfectionists. The problem with fear to fail or insecurity is that it can kill you. If you are afraid of failure, you don’t take risks and nothing will happen. Here’s a great article from James Caan about his lessons learned.
How I look at failure? First of all, I know I fail constantly. When failure is happening: attack the problem, don’t run away because it will get worse the longer you wait. Look it in the eyes. Pretty scary I know, but next time it happens you won’t be. Try to fix it on the spot as much as you can to really understand the source of the problem and not the result. Once you did the quick fix: Don’t change the dream, change the plan! And most importantly: I DON’T CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK!
Here’s a good one I borrowed from Dave Crane:
I hear so many Belgian start-up entrepreneurs or companies that want to expand globally complain about the non-existence of Belgian Venture Capital and the lack of support from Belgian banks. I don’t complain, I confirm.
There has never been so much capital on Belgian bank accounts, but so called VC’s only invest in proven business (and then they need a majority of the shares for 100K, and most of them can’t even follow through) and Belgian banks require a balance sheet of the past 3 years to get 100K… (which you don’t have and if you have it, it shows that you are investing and they bloody hate that). Oh and by the way, if you are going to use that money for international expansion you’ll scare the hell out of them. Oh and don’t ask them their balance sheet of the past years by the way….
Most Belgians even think you can become a global brand on the cashflow of your existing business. Get real! Ripping of your existing customers to finance your investments??? I don’t think so!
It’s surreal – I know – but that’s why Magritte was so successful. It is what it is. Don’t complain and don’t try to change that culture. It’s naive, it will drain you and take your focus away.
Go find capital in other parts of the world. They will understand you. Start from your strengths, to name a few:
- Belgium has the best Universities in the world, even though others have better marketing.
- Belgians can easily work with all nationalities. We can easily lead a very diverse team without posing a threat to all the big ego’s from the big countries. We have one of the smallest and most complex countries in the world, so I guess we can manage everything.
- Belgians are humble and hard workers. They get things done, while others talk about it.
- Belgians are the perfect mix of North and South. Structure from the North and good life from the South.
- A lot of great things started in Belgium and were bought by big countries. Is that a problem for you as an entrepreneur? Why should it be? Let your baby grow! You want to be a global brand anyway, so why would you care? You won’t get any appreciation for what you did in Belgium anyway. Is that a problem for the Belgian government? It probably is, but they don’t care and you shouldn’t. They have other things to do like making sure you pay all your taxes.
So to all Belgian entrepreneurs (and no, that’s not the managers who work in big companies and claim to be entrepreneurs because it’s the new sexy): buy a ticket to UK, US or AE and convince venture capital there. It’s the only way!
Good luck! You’ve got my support and let me know how it went.
3 years ago, my brilliant wife-buddy-lover and myself decided to give our silly dream 3 years to grow. We found a few people who believed us, where 99,9999% told us we were fools.
2 months ago we bought a simple bottle of Cava and did the math.
Was it a tough? You have no idea! Was it rewarding? Without any doubt! Did we sleep? Not really, but who needs sleep anyway? Did we have fun? Oh yes! Would we do it again? Without hesitation! Will we face new challenges? Of course not
We have no ambition to stop now. On the contrary! We are even more convinced and ready for an amazing journey. We have a fabulous dream, a breakthrough team, a focussed plan, amazing partners and fans all over the world……..and the most inspiring kids on the planet who help us put things in perspective.
and Belgium has a government after 540 days…so…
If you want to read about me in Dutch, or just prefer to study my perfect golf swing (with awesome golf shoes): check out vacature.com. I’m on page 22-23. They also posted an online version.
Thank you Karin Eeckhout for the interview and Griet Dekoninck for the lovely pictures!
Good article on Angel Investment Network on how to overcome start-up fears.
People always think I have none. Probably because I had my share of start-up successes (but I also experienced my share of drawbacks guys). They should catch me sleepwalking or getting angry when things don’t go the way I thought they would! So, for the record: I have my fears and obstacles too dudes. But I’m very aware of them and I have my ways to deal with them rapidly. Ganesha is with me! 🙂
In the latest Happinez, there was another good article on conquering excuses. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer states the most typical excuses. Funny enough, only one of them sometimes applies to me:
- No time
- I’m too old
- No energy
- I would disappoint others
- Hey, that’s me, I can’t change
- I just can’t
- Can’t afford it
Only the last one can keep me awake during startup. “Can I still feed my children next month?” Seriously! I found out that talking to the kids helps a lot. Since I raise three completely different ones, it’s interesting to see how they react with very simple reasoning:
- “Can we now play our daily soccer worldcup match in the garden?”
- “Lets go for ice cream. I’m buying.”
- “Where’s mom?”
I guess the main reason I have almost no fears is because I follow my bliss as Joseph Campbell says. He was 25 when the Great Depression started. Imagine that! Maybe we can learn from him. Alan Cohen developed a 12-step method to find your bliss. Thanks for the tip Paulo Coelho!
Inge and me on the cover of Wereldwijs (Dutch). Full article on page 14.
Pretty cool! Wereldwijs is the magazine distributed by Flanders Investment and Trade. It’s distributed worldwide. Must say that Flanders Investment and Trade really made the difference in our international endeavours. A very special thank you to Yves, our early believer in South Africa! Always in our hearts Yves! Hope to have the same kind of collaboration with Flanders Investment and Trade in all our brand new markets: Singapore, Germany and the USA!