Why Give a Damn:

Because starting up is scary. It can be paralyzing to think of all the things that can go wrong. Read this post to join a community of entrepreneurs sharing their fears and starting up anyway.

The authors of this post, Andrew Missingham and Ben Gallagher, are problem solvers who specialize in strategic planning, prototyping and facilitation. In this post they are documenting the launch of their company benandandrew.com

Last week we became a start-up when Ben&Andrew Ltd was born. It’s a new agency designed to solve business problems for cultural, for-profit and social businesses, by sharing the best that all these worlds have to offer.

We’ll be honest, it’s also absolutely terrifying.

We’re excited and thankfully everybody else seems excited for us. We see it as a chance to re-invent business problem solving, to challenge the status quo and take control of our destiny. After what seems like ages planning, we’re finally putting ourselves out there into the world, trying to forge new ground and create a business we are really proud of. But we’ll be honest, it’s also absolutely terrifying.

Why? There are a million reasons why we are scared. So many, in fact, that it’s potentially paralyzing to even thinking about them. So we’ve been asking ourselves what we do about it? Since the second world war, the UK has had an adage: ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’. Okay, in a rather buttoned down British way – but not really for us. So we thought that rather than ignore our fears and hope they will go away we are going to love them with all our heart. We believe that understanding your fears gives you clarity in what is otherwise a very complex often confusing time. This is exactly why big corporations set up start ups from within – firstly to break new ground free from the cycle of corporate process, but secondly, because the fear factor forces them to innovate, to do things differently and to realize what they are really all about.

The fear factor forces big corporations to innovate.  Tweet This Quote

So, to kick off the next eight weeks of posts from Ben&Andrew here are our start-up fears. Over the weeks we’ll dig into a few in more detail but in the meantime, have a think about your fears and what they tell you about who you are, what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Alongside your comments here, we’d love to hear from you and learn about your experience, so if you want to help out or dig deeper, we’ve got a survey over at Ben&Andrew that we’ll use to inform this series.

Ben&Andrew’s Top 10 fears:

  1. Is my business partner a flake?
    Yep. This is top of the list. When the rubber hits the road, will that super-smart buddy you’re betting your life on be all they seem over the long haul? Will they contribute what they say they will and what are you going to do about it if they don’t? (tip: we gave one another three of our business contacts to call – two we were sure would say positive things; one we were sure would say we were an idiot/ass/shyster. That way we had a better idea of each other at our best and worst)
  2. Is our product right?
    Is it just us that loves it or even thinks there is a need for it? If the idea’s so good, why is no-one else doing it in the way we’re planning? How can we build processes to adapt if the market throws us a curveball?
  3. Have we got the timing right?
    Are we too early to market, or perhaps too late? “First mover advantage” works occasionally, but some lucky souls also win the lottery.
  4. Do we have the right skills to do what we’re doing?
    What makes us so smart? What makes us qualified to deliver what we’re planning? What are the gaps and how can we fill them?
  5. What if we take the wrong advice or ignore great advice?
    One piece of advice we remember is the one that starts “Opinions are like…” and ends “everybody’s got one” (I’m sure you’ve heard that one too – if not, Google it. Just don’t search images), but how do we judge between these opinions when so much of what we’re doing is new?
  6. Is the competition way better than us?
    They’ve been at it a while. They’ve got skills, experience, personnel, networks. How do we compete with that?
  7. What if we get a bad customer reaction?
    Let’s face it, not everyone’s going to like what we’ve sweated bullets to create. How do we deal with these shots? They gotta hurt right? Does it mean we’re doing the wrong thing? Should we stop? Change? Tell ’em to go screw themselves and carry on regardless??
  8. Are we going to earn enough money or raise the funds we need?
    Cash flow and undercapitalisation keep us up at night. How can we make sure that we’ve got as much money as we need (and no more – so we don’t spend like fools or have too many investors), so that revenue flows through to us at the right rate so we can get the shut-eye we need?
  9. How do we deal with growing pains?
    How do we preserve the energy that we have now even when we get bigger – and not turn into a big, lumbering corporation like all the others?
  10. Does anybody understand what we are talking about?
    Are we talking Klingon or Golgafrincham? We think what we’re doing, the rationale and language all make perfect sense. So how do we make sure others do too?

Unreasonable Challenge

Are you willing to share your deepest, darkest startup fears with us? We can get through this together!


Author BenandAndrew

As founders of Ben&Andrew, Andrew Missingham & Ben Gallagher create solutions for cultural, for-profit and social businesses. They have a wide range of experience working with creative agencies, brands and cultural institutions including Wieden & Kennedy, Arts Council England, the British Council, BBC and Sony Music, BMW, and Nike Foundation.

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