Afraid of Starting Your Own Business

Afraid of Starting Your Own Business?

By Matt McDonald
6 Min Read

Of course Tim Sternberg was right on both counts: the mushroom and goats cheese omelette that he’d recommended was one of the best breakfasts I’d ever eaten.  And he was also dead right when he suggested that I work with him as a business adviser, where his strengths and mine fitted together perfectly.  He was always better at coming up with a good original business idea than I was, I remembered.  But he didn’t know that I was afraid of starting my own business.


Sure, Tim knew that I no longer had any ambitions to work within large corporates anymore, where the fair treatment of customers and employees, sustainability and innovation – things that mattered deeply to both of us – are all too often secondary to status anxiety and internal politics.  But he also understood that I really wanted to help small and medium sized business owners and leaders. Tim certainly knew me better than I sometimes admitted, and always shared my business passions and personal values.


So I agreed that Tim’s idea sounded good, but wouldn’t actually commit until he asked me outright why I hadn’t previously discussed starting my own business.  And I think I surprised both of us when I admitted that I had simply been too afraid of failing. And once that was out there, we both knew that was a poor excuse.  I was in.


But looking back to that shared family breakfast in Byron Bay, the learnings that I’m proudest of are that we figured out “why” we were doing this first, and established the Purpose and Values of how the Advisory Collective would work and how Tim and I would collaborate as Co-Founders and Principals – while also being good friends.


What makes me happiest about starting my own business and founding the Advisory Collective with Tim is that I’m working again with a person that I deeply admire and trust, who can do amazing work in his own fields while also making me better at what I do.  He’s incredibly supportive, hard working and thoughtful.


It took well over 30 years for me to take this big step, and every week I tell my wife and my friends how privileged I am to have Tim as my business partner.  I’ve told him that too but he’s too easily embarrassed by praise.


So while no-one’s perfect, Tim Sternberg is perfect for me as a business partner and for what we have built together with the Advisory Collective.  And I’m no longer afraid of failure, or to admit that this is what I really want to do for the rest of my business career.

Matt McDonald

Matt McDonald

Matt has worked as a CFO, Acting CEO, Company Secretary and Head of Sales and HR for 30+ years.

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