Entrepreneurs are often viewed as fearless. After all, who else but a fearless person would have the courage to follow their dreams, many times walking away from a safe, stable job to try and make it on their own? But entrepreneurs have fears just like everyone else. Those fears differ from person to person and with the situation. Some entrepreneurs fear loss of income, others fear loss of clients, some even fear success and what it will mean for other aspects of their lives!
The point is, fear exists and it’s real – for everyone. Everyone has experienced self-doubt or fear at some point or another, the difference is how we manage that fear. Will it stop you and hold you back from achieving your dreams or will it motivate you?
What’s Your Fear?
Are you really afraid or are you afraid of failure? Most entrepreneurial fears really stem back to a fear of failing, whether it’s failing to make money, failing in your choices and decision-making, failing to please everyone, failing to attract clients, etc. When you feel fear, fight or flight instincts can kick in. Will you give in to fear and flee from whatever is causing you distress, giving up your entrepreneurial dreams? Or will you use that fear to motivate you and drive you further than you ever imagined?
To me, that hesitancy and fearfulness means you are doing exactly what you should be doing as a business owner. I know that when I start to feel scared I am on the right track. I’m growing. I’m becoming what I need to be to get where I want to go and I WILL NOT let emotions stop me. It’s okay to feel the fear but you have to keep going. Fear will keep you safe but it will also stop you from taking the necessary risks to obtain massive success.
When I get scared I stop and think, “You already had the courage to start your own business, don’t chicken out now! Use the fear and turn it into motivation!”
Turning Your Small Business Fears Into Motivation
A fear of failure can be incredibly motivating. I liken it to performing well under pressure. If you’re afraid of losing your business, you may be more motivated to do everything you can to ensure success. The question is, how do we flip that fear around and turn it into motivation?
- Recognize it for what it is. If you can accept and recognize the fear for what it is – an emotional response to a situation, then you can harness the fear by taking control of the situation that is cause you to feel fear. This type of self-awareness is called Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence involves being aware of your feelings AND being able to control how they influence your thoughts and behaviors. In many cases, fear and anxiety are temporary. If you recognize and accept that, you can move past it by not allowing the fears and doubts to affect your decisions and actions.
- Develop a plan of action. Another way to take control and flip fear on its head is to problem solve. Take control. What actions can you take to eliminate the risks or worries that are causing your fear? As an example, if you have a gut feeling that an idea is bad and that is causing you fear or anxiety, stop and re-think it. Instinct is deeply tied to our emotions. If your business instincts are screaming at you that something isn’t right, listen to them and re-work it. This proactive, problem-solving approach can help you regain control of the situation – and your fears.
- Use it as an opportunity to learn. Just as fear pushes some people to work harder, it can push you to learn more. Some people can overcome their fears by gathering as much information about the situation as possible and using their new knowledge or capabilities to find solutions or answers or even to give them the confidence to believe in their decision-making abilities.
- Reach out to your network. Self-doubt is a terrible thing. If your fears and doubts are holding you back, reach out to mentors or others in your network for reassurance. This type of support can help you in each of the three areas mentioned above too. Mentors and peers can help you problem-solve, learn, and see the situation from a less emotional perspective.
Fear is a normal emotion. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. The stress of running a small business guarantees that. The question is, what’s behind your fear and how will you respond to it?