Do you have any friends who complain nonstop about their jobs, but never do anything to improve their situation? I used to be one of those people.

I dreamed about starting my own company…wouldn’t it be great if I was my own boss? I could live the way I wanted! Create value for the world!…

But NO…

The thought of doing it made me nervous.

And so for years, I didn’t even try…

I hoped and dreamed, but did nothing.

I was failing at what I knew was my life’s mission.

Until one day, when I learned one simple, outrageously-effective step that changed my life and propelled me on a path of self-employment and entrepreneurship success.

What was it? It’s so obvious, it’s amazing I didn’t think of it earlier:

Fight fear with facts

Rather than fearing starting my own business, why not go learn about what it takes to start one?

For example:

  • You’re afraid it’s a huge risk; did you actually do any research into your idea?
  • You don’t have enough time; did you use time management to plan your time effectively?
  • You don’t have enough money; did you read about the multiple ways to raise startup funding?
  • You can’t program: did you even try to meet programmers?

But when I took that first step, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulder: only then did I realize that there were an absurd number of resources—many of them absolutely free—available to help me.

Resources like mentorship, startup methodologies (specific tried-and-proven ways to start companies), and meetings. They made all of the difference in the world, and have put me on the path towards entrepreneurial success…all without taking on huge, absurd amounts of risk, and all while making substantial progress the whole way through.

Today, I share with you my story: how I went from making excuses and cowering behind fear, to launching companies.

How I went from fear of entrepreneurship to being CEO of a startup with 5 programmers working under me in 5 months (& some other cool stuff too)

I was fresh off the plane, and just arrived in Hartford, Connecticut.

It was May 2012, and my life was starting anew. I moved here from Phoenix to be with family on the East Coast. A profound thought jammed its way into my mind:

“R.C., you know nobody here.”

“Heh”, I thought. “I guess that’s just going to add to the challenge!”

See, before I came out to Connecticut, I decided to undertake a great life journey: try to start a company no matter what.

So the fact that I had no entrepreneurship experience and knew absolutely nobody in Connecticut was…well…a bit of a problem.

I had no idea what I was going to do, but I did know one thing: I was going to fight fear with facts. No matter what the challenge was that came my way, I would find a way to overcome.

I decided to make a website that had project management tools for academic researchers. But I had no idea how to program, how to get interest in my product, what I should even develop (how would I know which features I should make in the program), and most importantly, how to ensure I wasn’t spinning my wheels by making stuff people wouldn’t want.

In other words, how could I know I’d be making a product people would buy?

What I did know was how to make a plan to figure these things out.

The Plan:

  1. Get to meet all of the influential entrepreneurs in the Hartford, CT area.
  2. Find some coders, but not by paying a freelancer tens of thousands of dollars to code for me.

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to accomplish either of these things, but I figured that by pounding the pavement and cold calling / cold e-mailing, I could probably piece it together.

And so the adventure began:

1. Meet all the influential entrepreneurs in Hartford.

I started by e-mailing some important-looking organizations in Hartford. I got meetings with a bunch of people. I told them about my startup idea.

They referred me to different resources (books, mentors, etc.). I read those voraciously. I learned about all of those things that used to stump me before (product development, getting people to buy, etc.).

They also mentioned these awesome business plan competitions, which I entered. My team won 2nd place, which included prizes of thousands of dollars in legal services for our startup.

As I look back to that day getting off the plane 6 months ago, I realize I’ve learned more than I ever learned in college; and unlike college, what I’ve learned is directly applicable to making money and living a successful life.

All of this began with the simple act of trying to learn more about entrepreneurship. I started with those who already knew, and advanced rapidly from there.

2. Finding computer programmers

As you can imagine, getting computer programmers usually costs money, and lots of it.

But I was able to get a team of folks to help me out for a very fair price (non-monetary).

How did I do it?

I learned how to hunt down good opportunities and talk to programmers.

I learned these things because I replaced fear with knowledge, and set out to make it happen.

And it all started with lots and lots of cold e-mails.

I sent out hundreds of them, and even got a meeting with a potential developer early on (who flat-out rejected me). But I didn’t give up; I refined my e-mails, and finally, a fish nibbled on the line.

By working through a local university and negotiating a fair deal with a software team, I was able to get a team of people to help me develop the software.

Imagine that…a guy who, 4 months ago, thought getting a programmer was “impossible”, now had a team of 5 of them working with him.

Now, I’m that much closer to launching Focosos, the premiere project management tool for academic research.

If I can do these things, you can too

My story has yet to be one of multi-million dollar company sales, but the progress I have made has exceeded my wildest expectations.

When I think back, I find my old viewpoints on the world to be very narrow-minded: I never though that someone like me…a typical guy, with no programming experience or an insanely high IQ…could be as successful as it is today.

There’s nothing special about me. But the beauty is that there didn’t need to be.

Armed with one simple technique; the drive to fight fear with facts, I could learn everything I needed to know and live the kind of life I wanted.

Are you going to try and do the same thing with your life?

PS- I have a great tool on my blog that helps would-be entrepreneurs defeat their fears and excuses for entrepreneurship- take a look at it here.

Photo by BArtur Potosi

R.C. Thornton

R.C. Thornton is a startup founder and avid writer. He writes about startups at Decoding Startups, where he teaches readers how to go from excuses to launch. Check out the site to get awesome free startup content, and to see the companies he’s working on!
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