When I talk to other entrepreneurs, business owners, and self starters, there seems to always be a common theme when they start or grow their business- the F word. Whether they ended up being successful or not, it is almost impossible to escape FEAR when starting something new or trying something unique.
Fear itself is not a bad thing! It’s designed to protect us, both body and mind. It does a great job of keeping us safe and comfortable. The problem is how we interpret fear and what we choose to do with it. Some people have NO idea why they’re afraid and what to do with those strong feelings- is fear a real warning or is it holding you back from something incredible? Should you listen to your feelings of uncertainty or move ahead full-force ignoring your fears?
I’ve had HUGE issues with fears holding me back, and I still do! Sometimes the sense of fear can be so intense that it literally paralyzes you from moving forward. This can damage your business AND your self esteem.
Let’s break down what we’re feeling when we jump into something new. I believe with entrepreneurship there are 3 main fears under which all other fears can be grouped. See if you can identify with any of these common fears.
Fear of Failure
With this fear, you may say things like:
“If this doesn’t work, I’ll have nothing!”
“I’ll be devastated and totally embarrassed if this idea fails!”
“It’s impossible to ACTUALLY meet my goals- it’s wishful thinking.”
This is probably the most common fear for entrepreneurs and new business owners. It’s the “I can’t fall if I never jump” syndrome that holds SO many people back from reaching their goals. And when you really think about it, it’s not a rational mindset to have! Are you going to avoid relationships for your entire life because you’re afraid they may not work out? Or do you avoid ever feeling happy because you know one day you will feel pain? Of course not! This is not a rational nor realistic way to go through life.
The sooner we accept that nothing is ever going to be perfect, and that we WILL have setbacks, mistakes, and failures, the sooner we can learn to cope with these disappointments and turn them into a positive thing- an experience we can learn and grow from to better ourselves for next time.
It’s really difficult to completely eliminate the fear of failure, but you can absolutely learn to feel the fear and not act on it. Many people even use this fear to fuel them and push them towards success.
1. Anticipate success
We so often anticipate the worst- I’ll probably fail, I’m going to let everyone down, blah blah. Why not turn it around and say “I’m going to do well with this idea,” or, “this business is going to help a lot of people!“. Don’t leave yourself any room to doubt your success and plant negative seeds in your head. Believe me, there are people out there who will do that for you- stand up for yourself and be your own best friend!
2. Analyze your worst case scenarios
Take a second and think, if you were to fail, what would really happen? Would it truly be the end of the world? Would you lose all your money and the respect of your family and friends? Would you be stuck for the rest of your life with nothing? Run through the possible outcomes in your mind while staying completely realistic. Are the people in your life REALLY going to leave you? Will you REALLY have nothing and never be able to rebuild yourself? Catastrophic thoughts like this are enough to hold anyone back from their dreams!
3. Have faith in your resiliency
Honestly, how much credit are you giving yourself if you’re so afraid of failure destroying you that you won’t even try? You are downplaying your strengths and abilities and undermining your confidence! Think back to the times you’ve overcome some bad situations, or the times you’ve learned and grown. Life is about experiences and growth, not running away!
Fear of Judgement
If you have a fear of judgement, you may catch yourself saying:
“My friends are going to think this is a bad idea!”
“What will my family think of me when they see this?”
“People are going to be able to tell I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
This one is a doozy, and when you actually stop to think about it, it’s completely RIDICULOUS. We spend way too much time being concerned about the opinion of others when, ironically, other people spend close to zero time caring about what we are actually doing.
Let’s turn the tables for a second.
Think of the last time a friend contacted you talking about a new job or life change that was exciting. I’m sure you felt genuinely happy for them, sent your love and moved on. Maybe you thought about it once or twice over the week for a few seconds, but that’s it.
Well let’s imagine a more negative situation: your sister or brother calls telling you about a new business or idea they’re going to pursue and you think it’s the WORST plan ever! You say your piece, hang up the phone, and that’s it. Has your opinion about your family member changed? Do you think any lesser of them for having different plans/ideas than your own? Do you stay up at night laughing to yourself about how stupid they are? Of course not!
So here you are moving on with your life, and chances are (if your brother of sister has a fear of judgement) they’re thinking “I looked like such an idiot. My family is probably thinking how ridiculous I am right now. They’re probably right and this idea is totally stupid” How much would it suck for someone to give up on their dream just because you don’t agree? It sounds ridiculous, so why do we do it to ourselves all the time? Why do we let one opinion change how we live our life?
It’s the same thing with all kinds of judgement- customers, fans, internet trolls/haters- everyone will have an opinion! You will never be able to build a business without facing judgement from other people, but the key is to analyze why the idea of judgement bothers you so much.
1. People have busy lives
No one is ACTUALLY sitting at home laughing at us like we so often imagine. People have enough to worry about in their own lives- work, family, money, vacations, etc. so how often are people really sitting around laughing at you? Never. It just isn’t happening, so get that out of your head and stop assuming people are thinking poorly of you!
2. Always remember the source
If one of your major concerns is that your peers in the business world or haters on the internet will judge you and won’t think you’re experienced enough, who cares? First of all, complete strangers who disagree with your ideas and hate on your business will spend 10 minutes criticizing you on your website or social media and disappear- those people offer you ZERO value. Your more successful peers in the industry either a) don’t care what you’re doing or b) come from a place of support and encouragement having lived through it themselves.
3. Be confident!
Whose life is it? Are you living to please your friends, spouse or parents? Will you really let your fear of customers hating your product stop you from doing anything? Learn your passion inside and out- the good, the bad and the ugly. Why do you love doing what you’re doing? Why are you excited to build success in your industry? I guarantee you, your enthusiasm will shine through and be infectious! At the end of the day, let those nay-sayers be your fuel to grow and become successful- prove them wrong! If you’re still struggling with confidence, check out the post I wrote about what to do when people don’t believe in your dream.
Fear of Success
The main symptoms include statements like:
“To be super successful I will have to sacrifice a lot of time.”
“I don’t even know what I’m doing. Once I get going in my business, it will be too hard to maintain!”
“I don’t need a lot of money- wealthy people are sellouts anyways.”
This fear is probably one of the most difficult to identify, making it the most dangerous! You may not necessarily be afraid of what people think, and you’re prepared to learn as you go and take the necessary steps to grow. So what’s going on? If you catch yourself saying any of the statements above, or if you’re stagnant in your business and you can’t figure out why, you may have a fear of success. But it’s important to remember, the fear is not about success itself, it’s about all the things that come along with success- pressure, responsibility, money, growth and time management.
Maybe you’re afraid of being successful because you worry about losing time with your family, or you’re worried about the stress of having to manage a larger amount of money. Or maybe you’re worried about hitting a certain level of success and being able to maintain it. It could be as simple as a stay-at-home mom wanting to start a business but feeling guilty about having less time for her children.
This can be so tricky because you may be holding yourself back and not even know it. You could have distorted views of what it means to be “successful” either from the media or from people in your own life who seemed to always be strapped for time, guilty, uncharitable, or stressed out.
If this is you, it’s time to think differently about what it means to be successful and change your mindset around money. Always remember that:
1. Being successful does NOT automatically mean sacrifice
And it does not mean your relationships have to suffer! Include your family and friends on your business plans. Share your passion and let the other people in your life see what it means to you. Time block. Focus on building a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
2. Success will not happen overnight
You need to trust that as your success builds, so will your ability to handle it. You need to stay confident in yourself and your ability to roll with the punches. Remember, you are BUILDING something – no one knows your skills and the ins and outs of your business like you, so when the time comes, you will have worked your butt off and you’ll be ready.
3. Money and success does NOT make you a bad person
Being opportunistic is not a negative trait, so say “adios” to the guilt complex right now! You are responsible for your life and the examples you set for those around you. You are not doing yourself (or anyone else) any favors by holding yourself back. Start seeing your business as a way to help people, solving a problem that people NEED solved. Does finding an opportunity and working your hard to share that opportunity with the world sound like a bad person to you? Not a chance!
I hope this helped some of you identify your fears and ways to cope! What do you think about fear holding you back in business? Leave a comment below!