Don’t Look Down!

I tend to think in metaphors. Right now, the imagery I am using to put my current situation into perspective is that of a rock climber. I’ve been bouldering for months by myself. It’s tiring, but around each turn there are unexpected finds that I would not have come across had I not been alone with my thoughts. My project idea has survived a few different reincarnations already, and I need to keep moving and protect the space in my head to get there.

Now I’m at the base of this mountain. It’s breathtaking – and terrifying. I’ve been able to get a little ways up by hoisting myself on fairly easy, obvious footholds. The branding process is complete, and our logo is perfect. It inspires me and is my vision for the company. The COMING SOON page on our website is in the works. I am off the ground but not high. Falling from here would injure my pride more than my body.

The next stage in the journey requires ropes, harnesses and expertise. I’ll need equipment which takes money – more than I have, of course, or this blog post would be irrelevant. The dilemma is one which is familiar to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. The options are these: put my family’s house up as collateral to get an SBA loan, lose some autonomy and take on investors or put the project up on Kickstarter and risk someone else taking my idea and launching it before I can get funding together. I have posed all three as negative, though each one certainly has its advantages.

I know that people in business take calculated risks all the time. They use their understanding of the context surrounding their situation to decide whether to leap or to wait. And I suspect that they often do not regret having leaped at an inopportune time if that experience makes them wiser the next time around. Live and learn. But when you don’t have a string of successes beneath you to buffer a misstep, the stakes feel higher.

When the house where my kids sleep is on the line – or I risk losing the opportunity to pursue this dream altogether because I shared when I should have kept it close – I want to pull the ropes tighter, lean towards the rock and steady myself, wait until there’s no wind at all and think hard about my next move. But when in life does that strategy work out for anyone? In life, as in rock climbing, looking down is counterproductive and pointless. Eye on the prize – ever upward – and forward march.

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8 comments

  1. Amy, this is one of the first posts that truly looks at someone’s online efforts as part of an actual business … one that involves risk and investment. Yes, there’s some bootstrapping that can be done. But in 2012, just like in brick-and-mortar businesses, very few people can build strong, successful businesses with an internet component without expertise, an initial plan and resources. Thanks for reminding us!

    1. Thanks, Sharon. I hope to one day be in a position to reach a hand out to other up-and-coming women entrepreneurs, but I obviously have a long ways to go myself first.

  2. Great analogy, Amy. Entrepreneurship is definitely not an adventure for the faint of heart. I remember my time at the base of the mountain and I’ve been there more than once–fear, exhilaration and anticipation–and a whole lot of faith and chutzpah.

    Just remember, we’re all behind you!

  3. The more you write about your thoughts and concerns about moving forward, the more I have to laugh about how becoming entrepreneurs has brought out the opposites in both of us. When I started my business, I took a weekend to think about it, and then I leapt. Totally out of character for me.

    And I’ve always known you to jump right into anything that interests you – both feet, one big jump, no looking back. I’ve always admired that about you.

    And here you are, contemplating, planning, strategizing. So not the Amy I know, yet I totally get that you’re a different person now with different priorities and concerns.

    Regardless, let a little of the old Amy out. She has really great gut instincts. 🙂

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