As we look into the hidden causes of entrepreneur anxiety, one small business fear that has to be at the top of the list is the fear of losing money or income. This is a perfectly understandable fear since losing money could mean loss of home or lifestyle, require you to lay off employees or even shut down the business altogether. The repercussions extend far beyond yourself to your family, your employees and their families and possibly even the broader community. That’s a ton of pressure to put on yourself, no wonder you’re afraid!
In addition to the practical stresses that come with losing money, you may also be afraid of how such a loss would affect your status and how others view you. For most entrepreneurs, being a business owner is a strong part of their identity; a failed business can mean a loss of identity and the embarrassment of maybe having to get a job elsewhere. This can be especially anxiety-inducing if you have to get an entry-level or menial job when you used to be your own boss.
How can we overcome this type of small business anxiety? Maybe by simply accepting that it could happen. Yes, your business might fail. Yes, you might have to work a crappy job; maybe two crappy jobs. But really, is that the worst thing that could happen?
Would You Eat Dirt?
I witnessed the loss of business income firsthand.
The year after my father made his first million in his business, the market crashed and he had to work as a car wash attendant at one of the businesses that had been his biggest client. He was so embarrassed because the men who worked with him were making fun of him for having to “sink so low”. He, on the other hand, decided he was going to continue to chase his entrepreneurial dreams. He did not go out of business. He kept his business afloat during this time and after that one winter, he made sure to never let anything like that happen again.
I remember him telling me at the time, “Sometimes you have to eat dirt to get what you want.” For me, I can’t think of a time when I was prouder of him. It was then that I realized my dad would do anything to take care of his family and to make sure we had everything we needed. I still think back on that day when I’m facing my own fears of failure. Would I work in a factory if it would help keep my business going? Yes, I would! I would eat dirt to make sure my business is successful. There is nothing I will not do to succeed. I learned that lesson early on from my father.
Reframe Your Fears To Overcome Fear And Anxiety
I am a strong believer in reframing negative thoughts to work for you. Reframing gives you back control of the thoughts or situation and sometimes it is this loss of control that is really causing the small business owner stress.
By reframing your thoughts, you can change or channel your anxiety or fear into determination. Reframing can change your embarrassment to pride – you’re not a terrible business person who failed and had to take a menial job, you are a person who will do ANYTHING to succeed.
And once you’re rolling in the money, that time you didn’t give up, that time you failed miserably but got back up and kept going, THAT will make an amazing and inspiring story!