Why we are so obsessed with what other people think is right, when maybe, we should trust our own instincts!
Last year, I was in the fortunate position of being able to participate in Dragons' Den for investment in Treatment Saver. I'll be honest, we faced a bit of a grilling! We did our research, spent hours preparing, practised our presentation in front of peers, friends and family and did everything we could to ensure our pitch went smoothly. Our business ticked all the boxes too (we thought!). We were successfully trading, making a profit, had steady and growing traffic and hundreds of clinics signed up to work with us. It seemed like we had it in the bag! But despite all of this, the Dragon's still weren't really able to understand the market we were in or see the potential we had to capitalise on what is currently a £5 billion industry.
A year on, I've had time to reflect on the whole process and it did make me question why we are so obsessed with getting the approval of just a handful of successful business people. Why is it that a 'yes' or a 'no' from them is seen as nail in the coffin? Isn't it just the opinion of one person at one moment in time?
Of course, it's a TV programme and so the entertainment aspect is an overriding factor. It makes gripping TV and we love to tune in to see which businesses will win investment, which will be told 'I'm out' and who will be on receiving end of Sir Alan Sugar's 'You're fired!'. But when you watch these programmes, I would also spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands of start up businesses that are making their own way without the benefit of external investment or TV exposure. Many of them are facing adversity and challenges every single day, perhaps even being told that their business idea isn't viable or isn't worth the investment by a bank or private investor. But they still keep going and don't give up. We rarely hear about these businesses do we?
I saw a great quote from the late Steve Jobs the other day. It said 'I'm convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from non-successful ones is perseverance." It really does sum up my experiences and I would imagine those of many people who run their own business these days.
I think too often in society and in business, we value the opinion of others far too much, when really, we should be listening to ourselves. Often, we know if things in our lives are really worth pursuing or not. It's that difference between thinking you might just chance it and see what happens, and really believing that you can change something, add value or make a difference. There is also a huge difference between having a generally bad idea and simply presenting your idea to the wrong person, in the wrong place, or at the wrong time!
My biggest aim for 2014 so far as been to trust my own instincts and to make decisions based on what I feel is right, rather than what someone else tells me to do. I'd challenge you to do the same and see how things suddenly become clearer when you start to sing from your own song sheet instead of someone else's.