How To Tear Down A Brick Wall

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As you build your startup from idea to functioning business, it’s inevitable that you will run headfirst into something that seems like a brick wall. Maybe it will be something external, like a thorny legal logistical issue or a backer suddenly getting cold feet. Or maybe it will be something internal, like exhaustion or a growing fear of failure.

I have some good news for you: Those brick-wall moments happen to every entrepreneur. They’re a normal part of the process. Success is often a matter of understanding how to tear those brick walls down so you can get back to building your business.

Once you understand the process, those brick walls become much less intimidating. Instead of stopping you cold, they often become something closer to speed bumps.

Here’s one example from a recent consultation: Pam is an author working on getting her first book published. She faced many challenges along the way, but after a decade of toil on the book, she was finally ready to show it to publishers. When she realized she had to write a book proposal, however, her entrepreneurial energy ground to a halt.

That book proposal was her brick wall. It was a new and unexpected challenge. Instead of being a writer, she now had to switch gears and become something more like a salesperson for her product. That’s a completely different skill set, and it’s no surprise that Pam found the prospect intimidating.

Here’s the ironic part: Pam already had all the tools she needed to write a book proposal. In fact, she has a valuable skill that many entrepreneurs pay top dollar for. She’s a storyteller.

Pitching a book to a publisher is just another form of storytelling. Fundamentally, it’s no different than pitching a business idea to an investor, or pitching a product to a customer. It’s a matter of creating a narrative in the mind of the listener, explaining why this product — a book in Pam’s case — has value. In other words, it’s a value proposition.

As I walked her through the process of creating a value proposition — a process most entrepreneurs need help with from time to time — Pam became more confident. Brick by brick, we started to tear down that wall. The real brick wall wasn’t the book proposal, it was her fear at not understanding this stage in the process.

It’s true that there are real brick walls in the business world, but they aren’t as common as you might think. When you run into something huge and intimidating, it helps to find a mentor or coach. The more experienced the mentor, the more likely it is that they have encountered something just as daunting, and can give you much-needed perspective on how to turn your brick wall into a pile of rubble.