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The Entrepreneur's Biggest Fear

The Entrepreneur's Biggest Fear

Hello and good day!

It is a little-known fact that most entrepreneurs live a lot of their lives with a deep-seated fear in their gut.

I speak from my own experience and from the experience of many other entrepreneurs with whom I've discussed this phenomenon.

This even applies to people who are doing well financially and who have been in business long enough to be very well established.

Certain things that scare the daylights out of most people make little to no impact on me.

For example, I do not fear making a fool of myself in public.

I've done it many times and I am very likely to do it a lot more before my time on this earth is over.

This doesn't only include cringy marketing ideas like wearing a giant cacao pod costume walking around a shopping center waving at strangers and attempting to hand out flyers.

Or cruising my neighborhood with a big sign that says, "Free Hot Chocolate At Fortunato Chocolate," for hours per day.

Another way to look foolish is failing out in the open where everybody can see you.

I'm not scared to have people see me fail.

The idea that people might think that I am a loser or foolhardy doesn't frighten me.

I've learned from my years as a business owner that whenever you start something new, be it a new business, or a new initiative within an existing business, you are always trying to make an educated guess about the future.

But an educated guess isn't the same as being able to predict an outcome with certainty.

No matter how much research you do and no matter how much you stack the odds in your favor, you can still get it wrong.

Sometimes a long shot wins the race.

It doesn't make you an idiot for betting on the favorite.

Betting on the favorite was your best available option.

I know that I might get something wrong, and that I might fail, and that my failure might make me look like a total ignoramus.

If you've been pushing your idea heavily and a lot of people have learned about it, the ignoramus factor will be high when your venture proves untenable.

As long as I do my best, I can live with people thinking that I am an ignoramus.

As an aside, I really like writing the word ignoramus.

It is a funny word. But I digress.

I can live with being dead broke.

I've been dead broke before.

It wasn't that bad.

The sun still came up in the morning.

Water still quenched my thirst.

Waves still rolled in on the beach.

My favorite songs sounded just as good as they always did.

Very few people starve to death in the United States.

A day's work is usually enough to put some food on the table and scrape by for another 24 hours. As long as you aren't desirous of too many frills, you can make it through being dead broke.

It doesn't scare me.

If you are an entrepreneur, especially a self-funded entrepreneur who isn't working with outside investment capital, you better get comfortable with the idea of being broke for stretches of time in the beginning.

You fund your business with your savings or a loan, and it can take years to figure out what exactly your clientele wants from you and how you can provide it at a price that customers can live with.

During your exploratory period, money tends to go out faster than it comes in.

Once you figure everything out, the situation reverses.

However, the reversal only holds until you try something new again.

Every new expansion idea holds the risk of being broke again for a while.

You'll notice that these potential fears have to do with what the entrepreneur will go through.

I am prepared to endure just about anything that affects me personally.

This whole category of risk makes a minuscule impact on my psyche.

What sends cold shivers down my spine and keeps me up at night is the idea that I will let down the people who depend on me.

In our case, we have 500 cacao farm families who expect to sell us their cacao at premium prices year in and year out.

They live far off the beaten path, in the northern Peruvian jungle.

They sell a perishable product that will rot on the tree if somebody doesn't come to buy it on time.

They have rejected other potential buyers of their cacao in order to sell to us.

How we manage our affairs makes a big impact on people who depend on us to be responsible.

Also, we have employees.

Our employees are wonderful and talented, and it would be no problem for any of them to find a job elsewhere.

Yet, for whatever reason, they've decided to throw their lot in with us.

I don't take that for granted.

Our team members use the money they earn working for us to support their families.

Acting in the best interest of our workforce is a grave responsibility and it scares me deeply that I might do something to let them down.

We must also consider our excellent customers, the people who fund the company and provide the resources for us to continue operating.

I read every single review that our customers leave online.

About 97% of them are 5-star reviews, and those make my heart sing.

A very tiny percent are 1-star reviews and those break my heart.

That is why we offer an unconditional, no questions asked money back guarantee on all of our products.

I can't live with the idea that we took money from somebody, and they weren't satisfied with the purchase.

The guarantee is a way to keep a clean conscience.

But each time I sit down to read reviews, my heart begins fluttering.

The idea that we let a customer down scares me.

Here is one last thing that scares me and a lot of the other entrepreneurs I know.

We're frightened to death that our work will cease if we fail.

Most entrepreneurs care about the work for its own sake, not because of how we benefit from it.

It is a big part of our purpose in the world.

It adds meaning to our lives.

I care that our chocolate is delicious and made with a rare heirloom variety of cacao.

I care more than I can ever fully express.

I care enough to make a fool out of myself in public and walk around dead broke for a while if I have to.

If we don't make Fortunato No. 4 chocolate, nobody else will.

And to me, a world without Fortunato No. 4 chocolate is a terrifying proposition.

Here is a final thought.

As we make choices about who we will buy from, it is worth asking which people and businesses care deeply about their work, their teams, their supply chain, their customers, and their purpose.

Those are the people who pray in the morning and pray at night, begging a higher power to let their project hold together, not for their own sake, but for the sake of the people who depend on them and for the sake of the work.

 Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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