Reality Bites: Being comfortable with being uncomfortable

After another gruelling week on The Apprentice, female entrepreneur Jackie Fast shares the importance of getting out of your comfort zone when running a start-up...

In a three-part series, Reality Bites, Young Gun Jackie Fast gives an exclusive insight into her experiences on the BBC’s hit-show The Apprentice, including the lessons she learned each week and how she has applied them in business. 

Following on from her first blog on dealing with setbacks, this week Fast explains why focusing only on the tasks you love isn’t conducive to running a successful business…

When you start up a new business there are a million things to do and very little time to do them in. As such, most people revert to what they are good at, which typically means the stuff that they like to do.

The more you do something, the better you get at it. Conversely, at the beginning of a start-up you tend to shy away from the things you are least good at, and the things you hate. This is why many people, including myself, love the beginning of starting up their own business because you are just doing fun things that you are good at.

Growing in this way, however, is detrimental and eventually the business will stall because you haven’t been putting time into all areas of the business.

Without a fully functioning business it’s impossible to grow to the ambition that you are after. Doing things you don’t want to do is not just part of a start-up, I’d argue it’s one of the most fundamental elements to success. The longer you put off the areas you hate, the longer it will take for you to truly become a successful business.

The Apprentice breaks down tasks similarly to how they would be broken up in the real world: sales, product/marketing, and money (money often being part of the product team). Whilst most people put themselves forward for the area they feel they are strongest in, not everyone gets their way and you have to adapt quickly in order to survive another week.

And as you can see on The Apprentice, not everyone can even identify what they are the best at – which makes it trickier still.

When there are areas of the business you aren’t strong at, you have two options:

      1. Hire someone to do the work
      2. Fake it till you make it

Hiring Someone

My first question for anyone who is self-employed is always “do you have an accountant?” and it shocks me how few do. This is the one area where I hugely encourage you to stop what you are doing and go find one. The huge amount of time people waste working out their accounting is often overlooked in terms of the value that could be gained if it was time spent growing the business.  

Don’t waste precious time, find a cheap accountant who can help you with the basics.

There are other areas of the business where you could hire people to support, but often the lack of funds in a start-up makes hiring people of true value worthwhile. Therefore, for everything else, I recommend you fake it till you make it (read my tips on faking being excellent at sales here).

Fake it till you make it

I have been singled out as a good salesperson in comparison to the rest of the candidates on The Apprentice, but I can promise you it wasn’t always so.

I used to be incredibly nervous if I had to speak at any event and would be quite uncomfortable picking up the phone to someone I didn’t know. However, when I set up my first business Slingshot Sponsorship in my bedroom in 2010 it was truly sink or swim – I quickly realised that if I didn’t sell my services, I wasn’t going to make the rent.  

It took years of practice and years of forcing myself to do things I wasn’t comfortable with, but I eventually honed my skills into a personal sales strategy that works and can be found in my Amazon bestselling book PINPOINT.  

The same can be said about marketing, branding and business. Read as much as you can about the subject, following competitors to see what they are doing, and try and mirror what works. Eventually you will come up with your own style and your own process, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

More start-up tips can also be found on my blog: https://jackiefast.com/blog/

Support Jackie Fast on The Apprentice on Twitter and Instagram #TeamWackie