Jenn believed we could successfully launch this business before I did. I hate to admit that. But it’s true. She pushed hard, but not hard enough to send me running from the picture that, at the time, represented all the tangibility of a mirage. It was an idea. A belief. A compelling suggestion that we could do this. We knew how. We just had to figure out the finer details.

Of course, this forced me to realize that I live my life ever aware of the devil in those very details and so I quickly found myself fearing our ability to launch without crashing and burning like Icharus.

After all, according to The Motley Fool (gulp!), nearly 50% of all businesses fail after five years. Well, shit. I’ve given just about as much time to endeavors I didn’t believe in – often because those in charge didn’t either. But, what would actually stop us from starting out like a shooting star and then burning out just as fast?

What “They” Call Sobering Statistics

What if we ended up like the 80% of businesses that fail in the first year?

A dedicated reader and writer, I’m always looking to discover ways to hone my craft, understand why I’m at a crossroads, and figure out how to navigate certain thresholds. Often, these paths are well-tread and easy to navigate. In other words, they present themselves on my Facebook feed.

So, I “follow” any number of serious, and softer, publications on Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere – the most prolific, perhaps, a tie between Brain Pickings and Elephant Journal.

Last week, Brain Pickings posted words by Seneca: “There are more things…likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”

Nothing to Fear, But…Oh, Maybe Everything.

I have an excessively fertile imagination. I’m not bragging. Yes, my brain doesn’t stop, but rarely produces anything of use. Sadly, my imagination tends towards gravity than grandeur. So, I took great comfort in the above quote – maybe there is nothing to fear, as Seneca, and later former President Roosevelt suggested, than fear itself. Doubtful, but I’m willing to entertain the notion. Or, at least, rest easy in the idea that other people do.

If they didn’t, humankind would never have accomplished a fraction of what it has…consider Apollo 13 – the 7th manned mission – third scheduled to land on the moon – but the oxygen tank exploded and the crew was forced to orbit the moon, and return to Earth, essentially without a landing.

But, as Apollo 13 Flight Director, Gene Kranz, said – “Failure is not an option.”

The thing is – this isn’t the space program. Starting a content marketing agency is arguably a simple feat. Sustaining its success is a whole other story. And while we’re not necessarily braving unchartered territory in the larger sense, we are navigating new terrain for ourselves. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll discover something brand new in the process.

One SMALL STEP…

Thus far, we’ve had the pleasure of working with more than two dozen companies, from small start ups to significant conglomerates, well entrenched in their respective industries. Every exchange has been a learning experience – cliched as that sounds – but each client offers a nuanced perspective of what they need and what we might provide in return.

We’ve put in the time. We’ve worked and over-delivered to underperforming executives in our past. We love exceeding expectations for those actually invested in their own enterprises. To borrow from Oprah, a pioneer according to just about anyone’s standards, “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

We are finally doing what we want to do. After slinging beers, hawking skincare at Macy’s, regurgitating content for unimaginative “visionaries,” and cow-towing to whatever “boss” shakily stood at the helm, we’ve decided to chart our own course. And we’re still scared shitless. At least I am…

Who’s Afraid of the Dark?

Joseph Conrad reassures us, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

And so here we stand, about to enter the cave – perhaps less fearful than we were a few months ago, but certain there are perils within. The trick is knowing we can best them. We have to.

Failure, after all, is just not an option.

Circling the Launchpad – Harnessing the Fear of Starting a New Business

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