Startup Nightmares

We asked 17 students what their biggest startup fears were.

1. Failing miserably.

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2. Someone copying your idea, and doing it better than you.


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3. Manufacturing…. Anything.


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4. FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS.


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5. Realizing your financial projections are utter bull-shit.


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6. The University claiming they own your idea.


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7. Being so engulf/dedicated that I lose touch with loved ones.


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8. Leaving my old job to pursue [my startup] full-time.


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9. Stuck with a bad partner or having to fire someone you care about.


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10. Getting into a bad deal.


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11. I don’t know how to do x, y, or z about a business (website building, marketing, pitching).


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12. Moving forward without having a solid plan.


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13. No safety net (monetary).


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14. Not being happy in the end, after investing and pursuing.


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15. Not being good enough/having what it takes.


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16. Being rejected/having idea rejected by a lot of people at once.


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17. Never actually giving my idea (or myself) a real chance.


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Wondering, “what if?” Don’t let fear of launching your idea hold you back. Find support in our FREE student startup community here.

3 things you should know about fear of launching a startup

Halloween is a time to enjoy being scared. From scary movie marathons, to haunted houses, we seek the feeling of suspense and surprise.

But what happens when fear isn’t just fantasy anymore? Since I launched SPURstartup, anxiety, fear of the unknown, and suspense are emotions I’ve come to accept as normal.

I used to think I was going through something that most entrepreneurs don’t. After all, startup teams are always portrayed as optimistic, fearless risk-takers. Before I launched SPUR, I felt like I was at a disadvantage because I had all of this self-doubt.

I couldn’t of been more wrong. I asked student entrepreneurs to anonymously share their startup fears (if they had them!) and was surprised how many responded. Being afraid to go down a risky path is 100% normal, it’s just not talked about very much because it doesn’t go with the gutsy & bold startup narratives of famous entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are humans, too. We have fear, hesitations, and self-doubt. But we overcome these weaknesses, and you can, too. Here are three things you should know to overcome your fear of launching your startup.

1. Don’t confuse perseverance with fearlessness.
Our culture idolizes successful entrepreneurs. We expect them to be fearless risk-takers that radiate confidence 24/7. I think our culture has confused fearlessness with relentless perseverance. Entrepreneurs have to be more resilient, but that doesn’t mean fearless. It just means they face their fears head-on and overcome them.

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Entrepreneurs use bad experiences to grow stronger each day. Perseverance through the scariest of times is what will ultimately be the difference between success and failure.

2. Know things will get less scary overtime.
Think back to your first semester in college when figured out everything the hard way- by screwing up, getting lost, or making a mistake. After one semester, you got your bearings and were able to navigate everything on a slightly smoother path. The only reason it was so hard that first semester is because it was something new.

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This is like working on your first startup. You know less than you think you do, and, most of the time, you find out you’re wrong the hard way. But as you get more experience, you get more confidence. You do start to figure things out and things take on a different perspective overtime. What seems terrifying and overwhelming to you right now will feel like a breeze a few months from now.

3. Avoiding your fears makes matters worse.
We try to push fear in the back of our minds because we think that fear is related to weakness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. How you deal with your fears will determine if you’re strong. If you hide from your fears and stay away from all of the things that make you uncomfortable, you’ll never reach your full potential. Fear will define you if you avoid it. The moment you admit to yourself, “I’m afraid of ‘xyz’ happening” the moment you can start liberating yourself from your fears.

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I know launching a startup can be scary, but you don’t have to do it on your own! Join our community HERE and find support, guidance, and mentorship.

How to Find and Build a Network without Selling Your Soul

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re shuffling across a gym floor with a name badge around your neck and 2 dozen copies of your resume in a manila folder, hoping to make some good connections at a job fair…but secretly dreaming of getting home to watch Netflix as soon as possible.

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Or, if you’ve been out of school for a while, maybe this scene looks more like a conference center and you’re thinking of a way to hand out your pocket full of business cards so you can head back to the hotel.

To me, these kinds of formal networking settings have always felt artificial, and often pretty uncomfortable. It’s hard to connect in an honest way when you’re worried about making a good impression and talking to the “right” people.

And at the end of the day, you want to see the time and energy you put into networking pay off. Often after talking to dozens of people and attending hour after hour of panels, you aren’t sure if you’ll see any real career benefits for attending!

All this is frustrating when you consider just how important it is to your career to build relationships. (For reference: I haven’t applied for a job since graduate school, because they have ALL come about through personal and professional connections.)

Now, a formal networking event doesn’t have to be a gauntlet of social anxiety or feel like a waste of time. In fact, shifting the way you think about and prepare for these events can make them productive…and even fun! Here are a few strategies from the guide I put together that have worked for me:

3 Tips for Making the Most of Networking Events

1. Make a personal goal before every networking event so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Fact: Networking events are intimidating for virtually everyone. There’s nothing more awkward than entering a room full of people you don’t know and being forced to talk to them (while trying to make genuine connections). When you put pressure on yourself to meet every single person in the room and get to know all of them, that only makes you less likely to actually go to the event and have a good time.

To keep from psyching yourself out, create a personal goal for each networking event. Whether that’s simply talking to at least three people or meeting at least one person at your dream company, start small and manageable, then work your way up.

2. Give yourself a deadline.

You don’t need to stay for the entire event! Start by making an appearance for 20–30 minutes, and set a goal for how many people you’d like to meet. Once you start getting to know people in the same circles and run into them when you head to events, it gets easier to stay for longer periods of time.

The bottom line: No, you don’t have to stay for an entire two-hour event!

3. Check out niche networking events.

Going to gigantic tech meetups is one of the most intimidating and overwhelming experiences for people who are new to the industry. Instead, start small with a local tech meetup, or one that is specific to a particular part of the tech industry (for example, women in tech, or product managers or programmers).

A couple of networking series to check out that are available in several cities:

Be sure to check with friends or colleagues to see if other niche networking events are offered in your city.

This approach has really taken down the stress factor for me and helped me actually get something tangible out of networking events. That said, networking is a lot more than attending formal events and trying to make a good impression.

In fact, every professional encounter (and some personal ones too!) are opportunities to build the relationships that can make a real difference in your career.

Networking is More Than Conferences and Cocktail Hours

These days, in the tech industry in particular, networking happens online too. One of my coworkers at Skillcrush was hired because she left such a good impression on Twitter, and I’ve started long-term marketing partnerships with brands and influencers based on blog comments.

So that’s great! If you don’t want to brush elbows at cocktail hour to get your tech career or business started…you don’t have to! 

I created The Ultimate Guide to Networking in Tech to walk you through exactly what it looks like to network in the tech industry.

In the guide, you’ll get:

  • Tried and true tips for overcoming paralyzing networking jitters
  • 4 foolproof networking dos and don’ts
  • A complete plan of action for conquering networking events
  • 3 done-for-you email templates for following up with new connections
  • EXACTLY how to leverage social and other online networks in your favor
  • A roadmap to one-on-one networking that makes everyone happy, plus tips for keeping communication open for the long haul
  • The definitive list of how to (and NOT to) cash in on your connections

[DOWNLOAD THE PDF GUIDE]

 

3 Ways Building my First Prototype Turned me into a Real Entrepreneur

3 reason to build a prototype

This previous March I finished out my very first crowdfunding campaign! It was a daunting task, having had no experience with building and managing one whatsoever, but I exceeded my goal thanks to SPURstartup’s team. I knew the newly acquired funds would be perfect for building a prototype. After a break over the summer I cranked out a couple prototypes and my eyes were opened. Running a crowdfunding campaign was a huge learning experience in and of itself, but building a prototype brought light onto so much more for me, as well and I’m here to share it with you!

    1. Just finish SOMETHING
      As I had mentioned, I took a break from my idea over the summer so I could continue school and begin internships. In all honesty, I also put it off because I had all these funds, I didn’t know HOW to use it on building a prototype. I didn’t want to disappoint all the people who supported my idea. I got advice from Jeremy Vickers, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship director at my University, to just go to Home Depot, get some materials and slap it together. I still put it off for a while, but this September we finally got around to it and I was amazed! Not by our roughly made prototype but by how many ideas and approaches came to mind for our next one.

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      When you have been apart of the process of putting it together, you are forced to think about things you couldn’t have predicted when you were just speculating. When you have something real in front of you, the idea fireworks WILL go off. No matter how scared you are of how something will turn out, remember it’s better to have something bad to work with than nothing at all.

 

    1. Resources are all around
      By having a physical prototype, we were able to show people! A fellow classmate took a look and kindly informed us that a vacuum form would be the perfect tool for making our product faster and look cleaner. He told us about a tools lab on campus with power tools, a 3D printer, and, what we needed, a vacuum form. We were thrilled and tried it out the next week!Stencil FR (2)Definitely ask around your school or area for any tools and spaces that are open for you to use. If you pay for tuition you might as well get what you can out of it! That same week were building prototype two, we went to 1 Million Cups, a coworking space in Dallas. The collaborative entrepreneurship hub offers free-coworking-Wednesdays! I discovered a great space to take advantage of all the startups working there, get advice, and potentially gain resources. Dallas has proven to be a very nurturing place for entrepreneurs. It only makes me more excited to plug-in and utilize all the lovely things Dallas has to help us succeed.

 

  1. It opens doors
    Building a prototype has allowed my team to progress so much more than when it was just a concept. I used Prototype Two to take nicer pictures, which became the center of our official website IcingAid.com. Having a real site that depicted our concept well gave us leverage to share it with potential customers and companies we wanted to connect with. We are now able to collect emails and begin analyzing feedback. We also feel more comfortable to enter business idea competitions–three to be exact– which may also bring us closer to success!
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I hope this inspires you to go out and starting finishing those baby steps! Start with what you know, and before long the right things will come into your life to bring you closer to a running business.