One of the biggest concerns I hear from aspiring entrepreneurs is the fear of failing.
"What if no one buys my product?"
"What if I find out that I am totally unmotivated working out of my home and I watch Oprah instead of tending to my business?
"What if I use up all my savings starting my business and my spouse loses his job?"
Fear is a natural part of trying something new. If you didn’t feel any fear, you would likely get hit by a car (since you wouldn’t bother looking when crossing the street), scammed by a telemarketer (since you would believe that the free trip to Florida truly had no strings attached) or nurse a broken heart (since you would think he was truthful when he said "I swear I will change my cheating ways!")
Fear is simply nature’s way of telling us that there is some risk involved in a situation. Here is how to face it head on so that you work with it, not against it:
- Examine the truth in the fear. Let’s take the first example I listed above, "What if no one buys my product?" This could be an extremely legitimate fear if you have not taken time to clearly define and research your market, identify competitors, develop a compelling marketing strategy and define a sales process. If you have done all that and gotten positive and encouraging feedback from smart and successful people in your field, I say move forward. Mitigate your risk by taking it slow and watching the results carefully. You will find lots of lies among the truths in your fear, and these you can expose and leave by the roadside. (Byron Katie’s The Work is an excellent tool for doing this)
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is a huge lie that successful people feel no fear and skip effortlessly from one challenge to another. They experience the same digestive distress, sleepless nights and trembling hands as you do when they try something very different in their life or business. The only difference between them and you is that they feel it and do it anyway! They know that fear is an essential part of growth. So purposefully put yourself in some situations that push your limits a bit and get you out of your comfort zone. This is like sit-ups for the psyche. The more you practice, the more "fear fit" you will be.
- Develop a strong safety net. Surround yourself with encouraging people that take smart risks themselves. You need cynics and skeptics around when you are doing your competitive market analysis and research. But when you have done all that and are ready to make a scary leap into unknown territory, invite your globe-trotting, skydiving and hair color-changing friends to hold your hand. They will enthusiastically encourage you to close your eyes and JUMP.
Photo by Taro Taylor, 2005
Excellent post! We have been learning a lot about the fears that women business owners face, in particular, and your suggestions are spot-on. Thanks.
Carnival of Entrepreneurship at Just for Small Business
This weeks Carnival of Entrepreneurship is being hosted at Denise OBerrys Just for Small Business.
Each week, a new host takes on the hosting duties and picks their 7 best posts thats been submitted to them.
At Just for Small Busin…
This is an issue that I’ve been encountering as I make the change from computer programmer/researcher to productivity consultant, and it’s nasty. For me, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” is the name of the game. But it’s …. uncomfortable! Thanks for the post.