Jul 25, 2017By Tom Kooy

The Voices in your Head that Destroy your Start-Up…

Have you ever had a great idea? One that you believed no one else had come up with? You started to work on the concept and through the ideation phase you began to question yourself...

Have you ever had a great idea? One that you believed no one else had come up with? You started to work on the concept and through the ideation phase you began to question yourself, then gave up. Or perhaps you took the concept to prototyping or got involved in an incubator or accelerator and then after getting a laminated certificate with your start-up company name embossed on it (and giving away some equity along the way), you started to feel alone. That feeling then brewed and with the expectation, then became self-doubt – “Could I really make this a reality?” “How can I get the money to make this happen?” “I can’t do this; I have a partner and/or a mortgage and/or a family and the list goes on”. These questions and excuses build, which causes the weight of your mind to crush what could have been a game changing business.

We all too often let the voices in our head take control over our heart and what we want to let emerge out of our being. We let these voices play (on loop) in our head and they break us, they push us away from the exciting unknown and back into the comfortable.

We are taken away from the new future we wanted to create and revert to what we know and we push ourselves back into the box we wanted to break out of, which leads to the failure of the idea and willingness to pursue our purpose.

So what are these 3 voices that screw with our mind? They are, Judgement, Cynicism and Fear. Interestingly, these voices take an order and as we overcome one, the next appears.

Note: These voices are obviously also in our every day life. So whether you are in a start-up or just battling with a challenge or opportunity in your business these are voices you need to overcome to achieve a fulfilling change in your life.


This typically starts when we begin to engage with the new idea or a change we want to make. By this stage we have begun thinking about the idea. We have downloaded (in our mind) the excitement of the idea and change we will see in our lives when it becomes a reality. The people it will help, the money it will make and the future it will create. We have done a compare and contrast to our current life and we know that our future looks 100% better than the current life we live and we want it!

BUT, we then start to question, “what will people think? Will they think I am stupid for leaving this high paying job for the future of an unknown income and life?” “Will this work? My heart says yes, but my mind says….what will other people think??” The Voice of Judgement blocks our mind from opening and impacts our ability to engage with this new and exciting opportunity.

If you look at the statistics, the highest percentage of failure is here. Given we are innately relational as human beings, what WE think, OTHERs think (and the resulting judgement) leads the highest kill rate of a person’s true purpose and the idea they want to create.


Next is the Voice of Cynicism. Here we begin to go down the cynical view of the world, where we are distracted from our feelings. We question the start-up in the context of how embarrassing the idea might be perceived by others. We struggle to step out and be deeply vulnerable, letting our heart openly engage our purpose and the start-up we are trying to create.

By this stage, the voice of judgement has destroyed the feeling we had for the idea and its purpose. We say “it isn’t inspiring enough”, “I am too embarrassed to take this start-up into a public forum”.

We are unwilling to open our heart to our driving purpose, regardless of criticism to the new future your start-up is going to create. The cynicism is a cover to avoid the hurt we will feel.


Finally, fear. If you have overcome the judgement and cynicism voices, we then transition to fear. We now know in our mind and heart (in ourselves/our interior) that the start-up will be created, but it is now whether we can use our hands effectively and will this business and purpose into being (outside of ourselves/our exterior)?

“We start saying to ourselves, I know it will work in my head and heart, but can I take it out of my being and push it into a commercial reality?” “Do I have the capability to make it a sustainable venture with my own hands?” “What if I fail?”

The Solution.

And here I say, “what if you don’t [fail]?” What if you take what you want to create and define an exciting and profitable future for yourself?

We all too often let these voices break our true purpose and identity. We let others judge us and as a result they define our future. Whereas, the real solution is fearlessly creating, without judgement or cynicism; we need to step out, create and make impact.

Very quickly, my four tips are:

Deeply connect with your Concept.

Don't just download your idea into your head. Spend 3 hours on working through it. Think about it not just from your perspective, but zoom out, view the idea from a 3rd person point of view, consider the problem the concept will solve in the wider eco-system. Considering the impact you will have will inspire you to deeply connect with your concept.

Prototype & Test.

After those 3 hours. Be vulnerable with it, test the concept and commit to making it a reality. Find a trusted friend/advisor, be open with them, share your idea, show conviction. You are in a no fear zone.

Create Momentum

Do something every day that works toward it. Create momentum. Set a plan, follow through with it. These small steps you make will eventually, like the snowball effect, become big momentum. Before long, the concept is unstoppable. And you'll be on fire for making this a reality.

Set a North Star Metric.

(As a brief 101 in this deep metric) Like Polaris (where this was coined) the North Star is what guides you home. So when you get so caught up working on your project, there is a focus metric that keeps you accountable to whatever stage or sprint you're at. The North Star's power is that it stops you going down rabbit warrens you shouldn't and guides you to the actual results that drive growth and business value.

It's by working through steps such as these you then discover that the voices are not made up of truth, they are made of self-sabotaging tactics, your comfortable self (afraid of the unknown) is telling you.

We suffer more in our imagination, than in our reality - Seneca The Younger

There’s a hell of a lot of exciting start-up projects that don’t get off the ground due to these voices. And their founders trade an exciting future of growth, which contributes and impacts the lives of others, for the certain and mundane past they know.

My final 2 cents are; put aside the old you. And I mean genuinely do it! Take your start-up project (whether you are at seed & development or pushing to growth & establishment) and fly into the unknown (where it's bloody uncertain). Have an open mind, an open heart and an open willingness to act.

I promise you, if your intent is genuine to create something that improves the lives of others and you stay committed, it will work. Good money, great people and other supporting resources always find their way to impactful projects, the one thing that’s required of you is that courage to step out and just do it...

I wish you all the best,