Last week I got a call from a girl I’m helping start her own business. “I’m stuck”, she said; “I don’t know what to do next.”
“OK, don’t freak out. We’ll work it out”, I said. I asked her to tell me what she was stuck with. She said that she needed vendors for her business but didn’t know how to go about it and she was losing it. “Calm down. You’re trying to accomplish a big task. Break it down into actionable steps”, I asked.
She then listed these steps:

  1. Search the Yellow Pages for coffee mugs wholesalers.
  2. Do the same search on Google.
  3. Gather 30 email addresses.
  4. Send an email to all these vendors with what she wanted and ask for quotes.
  5. Set up meetings with the three vendors with the most attractive proposals.
  6. Negotiate terms during the meeting.

She knew exactly what she needed to do. Her problem is that she had never negotiated anything in her life and she was terrified of it. I told her that she could read a book on negotiation if she wanted to but that she was going to get good at it by doing it again and again.
She wasn’t comfortable negotiating with vendors and I can understand why: she had never done it before. Doing something for the first time will require for you to get out of your comfort zone. When a boss tells you to do something for the first time, you’ll most likely do it, because you have no choice. But, what if you are your own boss? How can you avoid procrastinating and get things done?
This is what I told the girl I’m helping:

  • Comfort and success are opposites. If you want to always be comfortable, you’ll never succeed. If you want to succeed, you need to get out of your comfort zone and be prepared to feel uncomfortable.
  • Failure means different things to different people. In my opinion, trying to negotiate with vendors for the first time and making several mistakes isn’t failure. To me, failure is not wanting to put yourself in the line and risk making a fool of yourself to get what you want in life. Failure is not giving it a shot. Old people never regret the shots they missed; they regret the shots they didn’t take.