We all have the courage to reach our full potential but most of us settle for second best. Multi-industry entrepreneur and co-founder of Dermoi, Elena Reva delivered a Tedx Talk, where she shared how she overcame her fears to reach the pinnacle of her career and become the successful woman she is today.
Starting out as a young girl in a small Siberian village, Elena describes the struggles of leaving Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union with just ten dollars in her pocket. She details the issues she faced, and how she managed to overcome the fears that are rife when starting your own business.
After launching Dermoi, Elena once again encountered these innate fears of failure; fear of the unknown, fear of doing things wrong, fear of failing.
In her talk she shares some of these fears and how she learned to live with them and ultimately overcame them.
Fear 1: I Wasted My 1 Chance
Maybe you know the stats… 95% of start-ups fail. While this seems like a grim and terrifying statistic, fear is one of life’s greatest teachers. There are also silver linings to these statistics. Founders whose startups that fail have a 20% higher chance of succeeding in the future.
[Failure] was devastating at the time, but it taught me a lot of humility. Picking myself up and dusting myself off made me so much more resilient. When I realised that I was still standing after this humiliating failure, I gained so much energy and confidence for my next project.
I went from having nothing to becoming one of the most successful property agents operating in Prime Central London. Losing everything ended up allowing me to grow into something I could never have imagined.
When I look back I think that it was exactly because of my spectacular failure that I found success.
So if the greatest risk means learning an invaluable life lesson, maybe it’s not so terrifying after all?
Fear 2: They Will Never Accept An Outsider
It’s completely human to worry about being an outsider. Whether it’s starting a new job, or moving to a new country. But we can utilise this fear and use it to our advantage. Work out why this fear makes you unique, and sets you apart from your competitors.
Take a short walk down your local high street, you’ll encounter dozens of businesses set up by entrepreneurial internationals. Perhaps it’s the Thai Massage parlour, the Italian delicatessen, or the Caribbean hair salon? I feel so inspired by these businesses, large and small, so often run by women, where people have cleverly capitalised on their unique knowledge and expertise from home.
Making it in a new country requires a huge leap of faith but don’t forget the knowledge, skills and tradition that you’ll carry in your suitcase without realising. You will automatically have something fresh to offer so use this, celebrate this; you never know where it will take you!
Fear 3: How Do I Compromise Between Family and Work?
Elena describes how women are often haunted by ‘either/or’ narratives. Women can be beautiful or intelligent, successful or happy, ambitious or maternal. These, of course, aren’t mutually exclusive and tackling and overcoming these sexist mindsets is key for self-evolution.
There is no reason why a woman can’t continue to evolve professionally whilst enjoying a fulfilling family life and being a great parent.
The thing about children is, they are incredibly intuitive. Sure you can tell your daughter to be courageous and ambitious, but showing her will be even more powerful. Children sense how you feel and observe how you behave.
When I am fulfilled and stimulated I know Sophia [daughter] feels this. I never pressurise her to work harder at school because she is motivated on her own terms, she sees me happy in my work and creates the same for herself. Then in turn she inspires me to see things with a fresh gaze she helps me imagine the future in ways that I could never do without her.
Fear 4: Only Privileged People Can Start a Business
Many businesses don’t require huge amounts of capital to get them up and running. Party planners, interior designers, virtual assistants, affiliate marketing (the list goes on).
When the Soviet Union collapsed I left my town with ten dollars in my pocket. Literally. I never had the back up of family wealth to get me started. I began my property business in London by finding the right angle – connecting Russian buyers with properties in the UK. It only cost me £12 for registering a UK company.
Fear 5: It Is Already Being Done
When we finally have that lightbulb moment of that idea that we truly believe will succeed, we get defensive. It’s completely natural that we hide our idea to prevent anyone stealing or copying it. We want to be unique and innovative!
Don’t be disappointed if your idea is implemented by somebody else. We all tend to see competition as a bad thing, but competition is actually a wonderful thing. When you decide you want to do something that other people are already doing, your idea has already been validated. It means you already have a benchmark, or a starting point, from which your idea can grow. So be happy for others, cheerlead your competitors! And then figure out what will set you a cut above the rest!
Overcoming Our Fears
To sum up, Elena is no stranger to fear. Fears and anxieties affect all of us but its about changing your mindset to use these fears to your advantage.
I’ll ask you to keep feeling these fears… to let them be there… and make a step forward regardless.
They’re not just a warning that you might fall down but also a reminder of how far you might go. Nurture your spirit of adventure and your passion for what you do… and good luck to all of us!
You can watch Elena’s TedxTalk here!
Author: Elena Reva and Sam Pennington