I think everyone who starts a business has fear. The probability of success is stacked against. There are so many variables outside of one’s control. I figure questioning the decision to go into business is pretty common. I’d also be willing to bet, starting a business was not their first choice. Investing your life savings into something with a low probability of success is not a rational decision.
My first choice after the Army was to get a job with a private company that was doing something I believed in. I thought Tesla Motors would be an amazing place to work. I believe in Elon Musk and the passion he brings to the company. A Model S with ludicrous speed is going to be my first major purchase once I start making money again! My second choice was to get a government or contract job. Neither of these choices came through - I have not been offered a job.
I could keep applying for jobs with the hope of getting hired. I could do the retired thing and hang out the rest of my life. Neither one of these options feels right. Don’t start a business unless you can't think of anything else to do, or is it, don’t start a business unless you have nothing else to do? I might be at the latter but I can’t see hanging out for the rest of my life or gambling my future on getting hired. Lack of options is getting me over the hurdle of fear. However fear is still there. Some days of questioning and self doubt have been worse than others.
My year in Iraq has so far been the worst time of my life. I did get many lessons from that year. I learned I am capable of working really long and hard hours. Mostly, that year keeps everything in perspective. Whenever I feel like I’m in bad place, I still always go back to that year and think of the last time I cried.
My eyes have teared up several times since, but the last time I actually cried was 2009 soon after arriving in Iraq. Nothing was going right. We weren’t sleeping. We were working ridiculous hours. The food was making everyone sick. I reached a break point. I remember I went to the attic of the building where there would be no one around. I put my head against a wall and started balling, full sobs, for I don’t know how long. Every time since I have felt my eyes start to tear, I think back to that experience and stop. I am not going to allow anything to be worse than that time of my life. I was so miserable during that year, I think my heart actually stopped pumping blood.
I’m sure what ever obstacles that come forth from the business will not be comparable to Iraq or other less enjoyable experiences I have already been through. I have become proud of my ability to control what I am able to control and to keep trying towards objectives outside of my control. This gives me confidence that I will figure out how to create a successful business. Unfortunately I have also failed a lot and do have concern that one day I’ll lose the motivation and curiosity to keep trying. What I know of the life of my grandmother’s one brother haunts the back of my thoughts.
I have never felt like I have had much in common with my family. My father was a physicist for the government and worked in the same office for over 35 years. My other two grandfathers also retired from the government. I don’t know much about my grandmother’s one brother. He was almost never talked about.
My grandmother had two other brothers. One brother became a veterinarian. Another brother owned a bakery and an egg farm. They both did very well for themselves and had successful families.
From hearing bits and pieces over the years, her third brother joined the Army to fight in WWII. I’m pretty sure he fought in the European campaign. I think he got out of the Army as a Captain. He would have been my nearest relative to have gone to war. My father received an educational deferment for Vietnam. My one grandfather was drafted for WWII but remained Stateside. My other grandfather was a biochemist who was conscripted to experiment with nerve gas.
I’m not sure what happened to my grandmother’s third brother between returning from WWII and the end of his life. At some point he became an alcoholic. He was living in a shack on his one brother’s farm. Sometime in his forties or fifties, he shot and killed himself. I assume he came back from the war with PTSD as my grandmother hated the military and hated that I joined.
What I don’t know is what happened to him between coming back from the war and becoming an alcoholic with no other options besides living in a shack on his brother’s farm, taking hand outs from family. Did the transition from war to the shack happen immediately? Did he first try to find a job or start a business? Did he find a job or business that eventually failed because he was an alcoholic? Did he become an alcoholic because he couldn’t find a job or because the business he started failed? I’d like to know but there is no one left in my family to ask.
What I do know of his life gives me fear that I may be going down the same path. However, again, I have become good at controlling things that I can control. I don’t see myself turning into an alcoholic. I don’t see myself committing suicide. I see worse case scenario for starting the business as losing around $300K and then going back to school for a hard degree in something like computer science or accounting - something that is with in my scope to obtain and will guarantee a job. Maybe I could even look into that med school in St. Kitts??? I also could see other opportunities I have never thought of arising as a result of starting the business.
I think starting a business might just be like the lead up to a fight. Emotions and fears are spinning. Once the fight starts, the fear goes away. Jumping out of plane might be another analogy. I have never felt fear after stepping out of a plane. Leading up to the step out is a different story. This is going to be a journey and I am looking forward to where this journey goes. Worst case scenario is not that bad. More so, I have a lot of confidence in that I have always been able to get back up by myself. Hopefully this time I won’t need to get back up. I’m trying to do everything I can to see this work and I really do want to have a positive impact on the world. To the crazy ones :)