“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”–Jack Canfield
Fear typically rears its ugly head when you finally decide to do something big, like start a business or scale your current one. Statistics about business failures do not help; they just make your fears stronger. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are about 28 million small businesses in the US. Unfortunately, only half of them survive and about one-third make it past their 10th year.
No matter how disheartening these figures are, they should not prevent you from reaching your business goals. If Mark Zuckerberg and Walt Disney let these statistics intimidate them, their lives would be very different, perhaps less favorable. Managing a business is no easy feat and the only way to overcome fear is to approach it head-on. Unless you find a way to fight your fear, you could miss opportunities and hold yourself back from reaching your true potential.
Here are seven of the most common fears that entrepreneurs face and how to break free from their paralyzing effect.
1. Fear of Being Judged
Did you know that Google was once an unprofitable company with no business model? For a while, it struggled to find a stable revenue source. It wasn’t until it decided to focus on selling search technologies and Adwords that it finally found its footing. Apple also had its share of failures.
The company struggled to make profits to the point that they sold digicams, CD players, and TVs. Steve Jobs being fired made matters worse. It wasn’t until 1997 when Steve Jobs returned and made a bold change in the company that Apple was able to bounce back.
Sometimes you’re too consumed with being liked or fitting in that you become afraid to reinvent yourself. People have expectations of your brand, but if what you’re doing is not working, it may be time to make a change. It could be your saving grace. To fight off the fear of being judged or rejected, you have to accept that not everyone will like you. If you fail the first time, reboot. Apply a new strategy and re-engage.
2. Fear of Failure or Losing
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report reveals that fear of failure depends on where you are in the world. Around 61.2% of Europeans aged 18-35 think that having a business is a good career option. However, this is low when compared to its peers in Latin America (74.9%), North Africa and the Middle East (75.5%) and Sub-Saharan Africa (76.5%). Areas that are exposed to difficult conditions are more likely to think of failure as a normal phenomenon. As a result, people become less afraid of it, pushing them to innovate and take on risks.
The secret to successful innovations is accepting that loss is an integral part of business growth and development. Polaroid, Kodak, and Motorola are classic examples of big companies failing to keep up with the changing market. They failed to innovate and reinvent, and they are continuing to feel the effects of that.
If you don’t want to experience the same fate, you have to accept that you won’t win every time. Think of what you will do if you fail so you can create a contingency plan that could help you recover quickly.
3. Fear of the First Step
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”–Lao Tzu
Procrastination is becoming one of the most expensive, invisible costs in businesses. A study of 10,000 US employees revealed that procrastination costs companies around $10,396 per employee, per year. Imagine the price you’re going to pay if this happens within your company.
Microsoft would not be the gargantuan tech company it is today if Bill Gates did not pitch his idea to IBM. Starbucks would not be one of the world’s largest coffee companies if Howard Schultz decided not to ask his employer to finance his idea. These success stories should be motivation to push you to take that first step towards a greater, more promising future. Just do it and do it now!
4. Fear of Letting Go
Some business owners want to have everything under control. They fear that if they delegate tasks, things will get chaotic. As a result, they micromanage and lose sight of core business goals because they’re focusing on the little things, like the money in the petty cash register or next week’s coffee supply.
Business owners need project management tools to delegate tasks, monitor performance, quality, and work turnaround. Options include, Trello, Speedcamp, and Asana. They’re free and they let you focus on the things that matter like profitability, innovation, and customer relationships. Hire managers or consultants who have experience and an excellent track record so you can be confident that your company is in great hands.
5. Fear of Offending
If you want to succeed, you have to be audacious with your actions. Be honest and upfront about potential issues. Consider what happened to Nokia: For fear of being offensive to senior management, many employees did not communicate their concerns about the problematic operating system and style of phones, especially compared to the iPhone. The market did not respond well to their product. This move caused their market value to decline by about 90% in just six years.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to be direct, honest, and professional about potential issues.
6. Fear of Old Age
It’s never too late to do great things.
Henry Ford and Sam Walton are just two entrepreneurs who were successful later in life. Ford was 45 when he made the revolutionary Model T car. Walton was 44 when he founded Walmart. It may sound cliché, but age is really just a number. Do not let it stop you from doing what you love and are passionate about. Your belief in yourself and your happiness are far more important than age. Get out there and start making things happen!
7. Fear of Success
In his article, “Those Wrecked by Success,” Sigmund Freud described the fear of success as a perceived need to fail. He said that this may be connected to the person’s experiences during childhood where parents thought that aiming too high would just result in disappointments and failures. As a result, they don’t push their children to dream big. Children then develop the fear of assertion. Some feel guilty over surpassing a mentor or a hero.
Meanwhile, the Imposter Syndrome is when a person believes that success is a false reality. They fear that others might discover that they are not really good at anything and are just pretending to be successful.
The thought of bigger responsibilities, fame, & the threats associated with success can be overwhelming. This is why some lottery winners say that they were better off before winning. To break free of this fear, do not let success get to your head. Think of it as an accomplishment that you can share with others. Be grounded and self-aware.
Don’t Give In
The business world is a jungle. Only the toughest make it. When you step out of your comfort zone, you may encounter fear in every form. The risks are great, but so are the rewards. Take it all in, learn from every experience, and overcome fear by having the right mindset and attitude. Fear is natural. It is nothing to be ashamed of, but don’t let it paralyze you. Have a clear purpose and faith. What separates successful entrepreneurs from failures is their ability to conquer their fears.