Editor’s note: Chris Heivly co-founded MapQuest (which sold to AOL for $1.2 billion), was sole managing director of 77 Capital (a $25 million venture fund), and has been an executive at five software companies. Currently, he is one of two managing directors of The Startup Factory in Durham. A national writer and speaker about startups and startup communities, Heivly is also the founder of the Big Top Job Fair.

DURHAM – If you think that you are the only one with that nagging voice in your head that reminds you daily that you are not equipped to being a startup founder, let me be the first one to tell you that you are in the majority not the minority. You are special but in this you are not unique.

I have shared this thought through one-on-one conversations with thousands of founders and the only consistent theme I have ever found is the concept of self-doubt. No matter who you are, where you came from, or how many successes you have, you have an inner critic.

I get it. The very nature of a startup is that you are surrounded by a ton of questions and very few answers. That is the journey through the first days/weeks/months, maybe even years. With that as a backdrop, how can we not be consumed with doubts and inevitably those doubts surface about ourselves?

Tara Mohr is an executive coach (primarily around women) and I first heard the phrase “your inner critic is a liar” in a podcast featuring her thoughts. Like a great business book where you pull out that one thought, I found that phrase captivating.

I am in the advice business. I work with an investment portfolio of just less than 50 companies, and I meet with entrepreneurs almost every day. Invariably I poke and prod until I can break through the business issues to find the core concerns that each founder is carrying with them.

You see, our problem-solving part of our brain is the source of our motivation and inspiration. We see problems or opportunities and we strategically tackle those with our full army of resources. We got that part down.

So what to do with that other part of our brain?

Get the advice at:


(C) Chris Heivly