Lulalend CEO and Co-Founder Trevor Gosling is no stranger to the fears and anxieties that come with running a small business in South Africa. In fact Lulalend was borne out of one of the biggest challenges he had experienced in previous entrepreneurial ventures: access to funding. Over time, Trevor has learnt to manage and harness his fears into constructive momentum for his business, and now 5 years into running Lulalend alongside CTO and Co-founder Neil Welman, shares some of his biggest learnings.
What has been your biggest fear in starting your own business?
Initially my biggest fear was largely driven by ego, which I learnt to let go of very soon after starting my first business. My biggest fear was the fear of failure. You feel like you are defined by your business and if it fails it’s a direct indication of who you are as a human being. Having the confidence or self-worth to know that you’re more than your business (even if it is successful) is a big step to getting over this. Also, when you put yourself out there by starting your own business, you feel like you’re in the spotlight where everybody is watching to see if you fail. But barring your mother, no one really cares that much and if things don’t work out. Your life’s not over and you can always get back up. dust yourself off and go again.
Have your fears changed as you’ve grown your business? Are they different from when you first started?
It was important for me in the early days to start letting go of fear and viewing problems as challenges that can be solved. So the biggest thing for me is to identify what exactly I’m ‘fearful’ of and view it as a challenge that there’s a solution to. Once you’ve worked through enough challenges and come out the other side (maybe a little battered and bruised) you realise that with the right mindset and approach it can all be done.
If you could give one piece of assurance to yourself 5 years ago when you started Lulalend, what would it be?
“You’re on the right track!”
Is there such a thing as healthy fear when it comes to running a business?
I wouldn’t call it a fear so to speak, but it’s definitely important to keep a healthy level of consciousness (not quite paranoia) about the competition and where the market is headed. It helps you to perform better and ensures you stay one step ahead. If you start becoming complacent, that’s when you’ll start slipping.
As a business owner what are some of the ways you manage your own fears and anxieties?
My faith plays an important role and helps me put life and challenges into perspective. Accepting that you’re never fully in control and can only do your best is incredibly freeing and helps me sleep at night.