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The Messy Middle

Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture

By Scott Belsky
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The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky

The Messy Middle (2018) lifts the lid on the difficult reality of driving your entrepreneurial venture from conception to completion. Eschewing the conventional fairytale of the incremental rise to glory, Scott Belsky explains how and where start-up success is forged: in the challenging but crucial middle stage of the venture.

Key idea 1 of 7

Business success is forged in the difficult middle of any venture.

Beginning a new venture is akin to setting out on an arduous journey. Whether your chosen field is entrepreneurial or artistic, you’ll probably share similar fears and hopes with the other people trying to strike out and plunge into something new. But regardless of what it is you’re attempting to create, you’ll undoubtedly encounter the messy middle.

The messy middle of any worthwhile venture is incredibly volatile – a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, during which your enthusiasm and your venture itself will expand and contract seemingly without warning. Once you and your new project are out of the initial honeymoon phase – when you’re blissfully unaware of how much you don’t know – you’ll likely feel lost.

Why? Because the middle of a project is all about finding a direction, making progress, and then stumbling and losing your way again. Your task is to weather the lows, enjoy the highs, and keep pushing to ensure each low isn’t as low as the low before, and each high is higher.

When you’re in the thick of it, this mid-section might look like its made of only downhills and uphills, but after a while, you’ll hopefully see an upward-slanted median toward successful completion. This is what the journey to accomplishment looks like.

If you’re not convinced, just consider the author’s path.

After founding in 2006 an online platform called Behance for connecting professionals working in creative industries, Scott Belsky experienced his own messy middle, which lasted for several years. During this time, there were periods when his whole project seemed on the verge of falling to pieces. No one beyond his employees cared for or understood his idea, and if anyone did show an interest in the project, all they expressed were doubts.

During this difficult stage of his business, Belsky was so crippled with worry and self-doubt that he could only maintain an appetite by taking anti-nausea pills. Many entrepreneurs feel uncomfortable talking about this ugly period in their lives, but this is the reality of the messy middle.

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