15 Entrepreneurs On Their Biggest Fears

Starting a business is scary but being scared is common.

To be a successful entrepreneur takes certain qualities like persistence, resilience, determination and many other bold characteristics. But this doesn’t mean that these superhuman entrepreneurs don’t have their worries, concerns and fears. With the overbearing knowledge that so many startups fail within their first year, many if not most entrepreneurs always feel that lurking fear of failure.

However, fears can be turned into motivation or even points of strength. Indeed, fear of failure is one of the principal motivations for all types of business owners. To find out more about this topic, Seek Capital talked to 15 successful entrepreneurs to find out what their biggest business fears are.

1. Making a Major Mistake

“One of my biggest fears is making a mistake that will cost my small business dearly. It really could be anything, such as a social media post that turned out to be controversial, a change in business direction that negatively affects revenues, or even not anticipating an upcoming shift in the business environment I’m in that I should have seen coming,” said Andrew Schrage, CEO of Money Crashers. “One of the cool things about being a small business owner is that the buck stops with you. But that’s also a negative because even very small decisions or mistakes can affect your business big time. How I deal with it is by trying to be the best small business owner I can every single day and making smart business decisions at every turn.”

Read: The Lessons Entrepreneurs Wish They’d Learned Sooner

2. Missing Business Opportunities

“My biggest fear is missing out on big opportunities for my business. When you’re an entrepreneur, many things demand your attention, and you wear all the hats. Amongst the craziness, there are moments of truth where you realize [there are] high-impact business opportunities. Making time for these high-impact and yet non-urgent opportunities can be difficult,” said CJ Xia, vice president of marketing and sales at Boster Biological Technology. “I deal with this by engaging ‘moment of truth (MOT) management.’ The goal is to minimize the reaction time to MOT. I use two key practices. The first is to keep important MOTs top of mind by making reminders. The second practice is equipping employees to detect and react to MOTs.”

3. Trying to Balance Everything

“The biggest fear that I face in my business is the fear of not being able to ‘do it all.’ I want to be a mom and I always ask myself, ‘will I be able to serve hundreds of thousands of women and be present for my family?’” said Cait Scudder, business coach and success catalyst. “I manage it by focusing on the current most important things that I have control over — systems and positive self-talk. I can delegate tasks to my team to ensure I free up my time and I can remind myself how incredible I am and how I’ve built my business while navigating all the uncertainties of life. Those remind me that I can do anything, no matter the circumstances.”

4. Being Behind the Market

“Being an entrepreneur, my greatest fear is not upgrading my business according to market demands. In this era, those businesses cannot succeed that lag in innovation,” said Tyler Sellers, certified trainer and CEO of Total Shape. “Bringing innovation in products and services is a daunting challenge. Among thousands of brands, people are only attracted to those businesses that bring something new on their table. In the same way, potential investors need innovative ideas to invest their time and money.”

5. Having Nothing to Show for It

“My biggest fear as an entrepreneur is building a business, it crashing and I have nothing to show for anything I’ve built in the last decade. I built a business in college that was generating $120,000 per year, but after it was over, I didn’t have any savings or assets to show for it,” said Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers. “This time, we reinvest 40 percent of our income back into multifamily rental properties to generate passive income. This way, if our business goes under, we still have a residual income from assets that we can live and retire on if we need to.”

6. Failing to Scale

“My biggest fear as a small business owner is not scaling. I’ve seen many enterprises stay small to play it safe, but eventually lose their small business to businesses with a more robust budget. I am afraid of stagnation,” said Chima Mmeje, owner of Zenith Copywriting Agency. ”I fight against it by building and nurturing my sales pipeline to ensure I have a steady stream of income. With income, I can reinvest in my copywriting business to reach new customers who can pay higher rates for my services and help me scale when the time is right.”

Related: 5 Lessons You’ll Learn When Scaling Your Business

7. Not Enjoying the Job Anymore

“The reason I decided to start my own business was so that I could try new things and experiment. I get a real kick out of doing this and it’s truly fun and interesting for me. However, in the industry we work in, online marketing, things always change and one of my biggest fears is falling out of love with what I do,” said Mark Webster, co-founder of Authority Hacker. “There have been a few occasions where I’ve become burnt out working on things that simply didn’t interest me and these were the times where I began to fear that my work was no longer interesting. This is why it’s always important to step back and really assess whether or not the work I’m doing is meaningful and something I truly enjoy, and if it isn’t, I should take action as soon as possible.”

8. Letting Down the Team

“I’m not worried at the slightest about failure, revenue, or the sacrifices I’m making to help take an impact business to scale. I am, however, deeply afraid of letting my team down; a team that has quit their jobs, followed me, respected and trusted me while we build this impact business,” said Aaron Velky, CEO and co-founder of Ortus Academy. “I’m motivated by mortality, but even keeping the brevity of life in mind, I constantly check in and remind them of the risks, and what could happen in the future should I make a wrong decision. We stop, smell the roses, and remind ourselves that we have a great set of people around us, and the right ‘why’ behind us.”

See the Study: The Best States to Start a Business

9. Bigger Companies

“My biggest fear as an entrepreneur is that all my time, money and effort will be nullified by a bigger company building what I’m trying to build. With limited resources compared to a large firm, I have to hope that the barriers to entry in my field are large enough to defend me from deep-pocketed competitors swooping in and taking customers from my business,” said Jayson DeMers, CEO of EmailAnalytics. “I deal with this fear by reminding myself constantly that entrepreneurship is about believing in yourself, persevering through adversity, and always ‘playing defense’ by identifying weaknesses and shoring them up.”

See: Why Your Business Needs a SWOT Analysis ASAP

10. Failing to Pay Employees

“My biggest fear as a small business owner is missing payroll that then causes harm in the personal life of my employees. I have a line of credit on the business that I have never had to use, but I put it in place in case cash flow becomes an issue,” said Bobby Reed, CEO of Capitol Tech Solutions. “I would rather go into debt on the business than miss paying my employees’ salaries. If the debt on the LOC becomes too large, I would have time to go through layoffs before I miss any payment.”

Related: How to Safeguard Your Small Business for the Next Recession

11. Elements Beyond Your Control

“My biggest fear as an entrepreneur is that something happens which is completely out of my hands and impacts my business. For example, I can influence how many employees I have, what kind of quality of work they do, how much I invest in marketing to promote my product. However, there are things that I cannot influence,” said Carsten Schaefer, founder and CEO of crowdy.ai. “For example, another legislation like [General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union], which makes it nearly impossible to market to new customers. Another algorithm change by Google which kills months and years of hard work we spent on creating and optimizing content. An enterprise client giving us a bad review because we took more than a single workday to respond. Things like those make me afraid because I have no idea what may happen or how to prevent it.”

12. Becoming Complacent

“My biggest fear is complacency. Whilst running a successful small business, I need to consistently remind myself that technology moves incredibly quickly, competitors have low barriers to entry, and success today does not result in success tomorrow,” said Raleigh Addington, managing director of Chartwell Speakers. “I try to remind myself and my team daily that we need to remain agile, diligent and never be content with the status quo in order to ensure that we remain successful.”

13. Managing Expansion

“My biggest fears as an entrepreneur and small business owner are the ability to stay afloat and the ability to grow the business through expansion. Working as a contractor, I do not receive material or human capital funds in advance,” said Jasmine Byrd, an educational entrepreneur and founder of DC Kids Makerspace. “I may have a career contract opportunity, but if I am unable to sustain the upfront expenses I can lose out on that opportunity. I have learned to save funds and work various odd jobs to generate additional income sources.”

Related: Top 12 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

14. Regret

“My biggest fear of being an entrepreneur is the fear of regret. I have created a service that people need and has a ton of great reviews. The regret is that if I fail now, a few years from now, I’m going to see somebody else succeed where I’ve failed, and I’m never going to forgive myself,” said Raihan Masroor, co-founder of Your Doctors Online. “That fear is my main motivation that gets me up every morning thinking to keep pushing, even when days I feel I’m drained of energy. I begin thinking, how can I make my customers interact with my service faster, with better accuracy, and furthermore with enhanced quality. It’s something that pushes me [to] persevere even through the toughest of challenging times at the company.”

15. Not Taking Action

“One of my biggest fears is not implementing or taking action on the tools I have in my toolbox which results in missed opportunities. I have learned from some of the best entrepreneurs in the world, but observing their framework and not implementing is missing out on great potential opportunities,” said Robert Gauvreau, a CPA and founding partner of Gauvreau & Associates CPA. “By not implementing, you live in the world of regret. The best way to avoid this is to find a team of implementers. Many times entrepreneurs are really good at creating the vision, but [they] miss out on implementing the vision because they have moved onto the next idea.”

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Photo credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com

2 thoughts on “15 Entrepreneurs On Their Biggest Fears

  1. Hi Andrew DePietro

    I have gone through the process of getting funding for Development of Solar Farm.
    However, shortly after, it became apparent that I would not be able to utilize the
    Loans due to stoppage of companies due to mandatory shutdowns that I would
    be needing..

    Sad and Craziness

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