By design, your mind has one function: survival. Our brains are wired in such a way that we’re able to evaluate risk, and that triggers fear. What does this make us do? Pull the emergency brake.
This can look like many things. The most common one? “I’ll start when…”
Why? Because your mind needs to feel safe, and the important stuff scares us. But fear is a part of everyday life. It’s human psychology. It’s why we don’t do a lot of things, because fear keeps us safe. In business, however, it can also hold us back.
The good news is, only you can give it permission to do so.
Being aware of your fears is the first step to overcoming them. And unfortunately for many entrepreneurs, it’s a war they must wage because once you’ve conquered your fears, you’re one step closer to victory.
This list breaks down the common fears of every entrepreneur and exactly how to overcome them.
1. Fear of starting (or not knowing where)
Ever felt lost before you’ve even begun? For most entrepreneurs, not knowing where to start is their first encounter with fear. You don’t know how to develop your idea? Not sure how to launch your business? You’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs who have walked the journey before you have found themselves in the same spot.
This means lots of business owners have been where you are. They can help! Start by finding someone who’s been in your shoes and succeeded. Reach out to them on social media and ask if they would be keen to share some advice.
Most will be willing to help you out. If they aren’t, you’ll still walk away knowing that they achieved success, so it’s possible for you too.
2. Fear of not knowing enough
You’ll never know enough. And that’s okay.
Running a business is a constant learning experience. Start with what you do know and take comfort in this: nobody knows it all. As Aristotle famously wrote, “The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.”
That said, make it your mission to learn as much as possible. Read books, talk to leaders in your industry, attend conferences, follow blogs, immerse yourself in your field. Put in all the work, and there’ll still be a lot for you to learn and know.
“The more experience you have, the more things there are that you know you know. But also, the more things you know you don't know.”
Don’t worry if you’re not an expert in your field. The trick is simply to start doing. Through experience, you’ll begin to feel good as you grow in your business. Throw yourself into the journey and commit yourself fully.
3. Fear of not securing funding
To start a business, you need capital. Whether it be in the form of a loan, investment, or from your own pocket.
In a dream world, you could just waltz into a bank and get a loan. Even better, an investor that puts stacks of money into jumpstarting your business. For most of us, we don’t live in such a world.
Meaning, as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be resourceful. You’ll need to find a way to start a businesses with what you already have.
That said, what you already have could be a great idea. American academic Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Knowledge is the antidote for fear.” Arm yourself with a robust plan and potential investors will soon see your value.
READ THIS: How to Write a Business Plan
4. Fear of letting people down
There’s always a risk when starting a business. And often that risk doesn’t only impact you. It also affects the people in your life. When their well-being is tied to your new business venture, the fear of letting them down can be overwhelming.
What’s the best way to deal with this fear? Transparency. Talk to your spouse, partner, parents, and friends. Let them walk the journey with you. They want to support you, but you need to tell them how. So, be open and honest.
Starting a business can be lonely, at first. It’s important that you have people around you to help along the way.
5. Fear of not making money
Understand that business growth is incremental. It doesn’t happen all at once. According to Forbes, on average, it takes 18 – 24 months for a business to make a profit.
Be patient. Focus on running your business well. Providing you’ve done the research upfront, the money will come.
In your first two years in business, remember:
- Be kind to yourself – you’re just getting started and you’ve made it further than most
- Delivering on your promises and offering good customer service will help build the relationships you need to grow your business.
If you’re feeling unsure, calculating the break-even point can help you scope out when to expect a return on your investment and when you’ll actually start making a profit.
6. Fear of change
It’s natural to fear change. And that’s what starting a business is, isn’t it? It’s a change of responsibility, lifestyle and environment – all rolled into one.
When we go through a change in our lives, we lose control. Suddenly we’re out of our comfort zone. We feel powerless, because we’re unsure of our role in this strange new world.
Slow down. Change is uncomfortable, but it is essential for growth. It’s important to back yourself. The fear of failure can be crippling, but don’t pull the emergency brake. Rather, hit the accelerator.
Besides, change is unavoidable. It’s how we react to it that really matters. In the words of writer John Maxwell, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional”.
7. Fear of success
On the flip side of failure is success – opening a business and finding out that it’s exactly what people were looking for.
Picture this, as you fling open the doors to your business, there’s already a long line of people waiting eagerly to buy from you. Does the thought of that overwhelm you? Is it the fear that you won’t be able to handle the demands of a successful business?
You are not alone.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Social Issue presents the idea that men and women may have a fear of social criticism from success.
While it’s normal to want social acceptance, it may be lonely at the top. Remind yourself why you started and why you got into business and keep going – someone has to lead, and it may as well be you.
The 5F’s: Fail Forward Free From Fear
Fear is always going to be a part of life. It’s what you choose to do with it that will define the course of your life and business. It can either motivate us to take action or talk us out of the best opportunities life has to offer.
The question is, will you let it control you or will you let it fuel your success? Only you can answer that question.