Business is a game just like everything else in life.

The school game is played to get grades. If you do the assignments the teachers tell you to do, and get the answers they expect you to get, then you win.

In business, you need to create a product people want, convince them to pay you for it, then deliver it to them in the way they expect (or better). When you get paid, you win.

But there is a deeper, more internal game at play when you’re in the early stages of a business. Before you’ve started your business, it doesn’t exist yet. It is only an idea. You need to win the belief game.

At one point, Facebook existed solely in the mind of one person. Now, several billion people around the world believe it exists. Mark Zuckerberg won the belief game.

In reality, your idea is just that — an idea. Before you start, this thing that you want to change lives and move the world is in its weakest possible form. You might not even believe in it yourself. I’ve had so many good business ideas that I talked about and never brought into reality. There are tons of reasons why they never happened, but it boils down to one thing: the belief game.

Every time I talked about the idea, it was clear it was just an idea. In reality, that’s all it was. Nothing more. So when I would talk about it, it would come off that way and whoever was listening would understand the reality that it’s only an idea. It takes a lot of energy to bring a cooperative system like a profitable business into existence. All the odds are against you. I would say it’s like pushing a stationary train up a hill, but it’s more like building a train, putting it on the tracks, THEN pushing it up a hill.

Here’s how to win the belief game:

First, convince yourself to believe that your idea is more than just an idea. This is where I’ve failed in the past. I let the reality that my idea didn’t exist blind me from the fact that I could change that reality. You won’t be able to convince anybody that your idea is real until you can fully convince yourself. Your idea should feel like an inevitable lucid moment in your future.

When it becomes real to you, your score goes from 0 to 1. Then you can start convincing other people.* When other people start to believe your idea is real and tangible, you’ll start gaining momentum. That’s how you win the belief game like Facebook did.

*The best way to convince people your idea exists is to do stuff that makes it exist.