Starting a business is a big decision and there are a lot of things to think about. Some of these things can be downright scary, and it’s important to face them right from the beginning.
From finances to public speaking, the list of potential fears business owners face are seemingly endless, and you can’t afford to wait until your business is in motion to address these issues. Here are seven common fears that could be holding you back from making the leap from employee to business owner, plus how to overcome these fears.
1. The Fear of Failure
As Henry Ford said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” That’s why you’ll often hear businesspeople speak publicly about the number of times they’ve failed before they succeeded.
“You have to see failure as the beginning and the middle, but never entertain it as the end,” said Jessica Herrin, co-founder and CEO of Stella & Dot. Overcome your fear of failure by changing your mindset from, “I didn’t succeed at this,” to “Here’s what I can learn from this.” Failure is part of the process, so view it as such.
2. The Fear of Success
Once you’ve gotten over your fear of failure, you may also need to overcome a fear of success. A successful business can take on a life of its own, and you may be concerned that your idea will turn into something bigger than you can handle. Trust in your ability to grow your business intelligently and to delegate appropriately when it’s necessary. And remember that the ‘overnight sensation’ is extremely rare — some businesses become well-known quickly, but they’ve often been flying beneath the radar for years, giving their founders plenty of time to adjust to varying levels of success.
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3. The Fear of Debt
Funding a new venture is a challenge, and costs often exceed what you’ve budgeted. It can be difficult to determine where the fine line is between investing more to get over a hump and throwing good money after bad decisions. Here’s a question to ask yourself if you’re considering borrowing money for your business: Do I need this money to expand my already-successful business, or am I looking for money to put behind a product or service that’s still unproven? If it’s the latter, you may want to think about ways to cut back in other areas. Borrowing to expand your business is often a prudent move, so you should overcome your fear of debt in this instance, provided that the debt you’re taking on will result in greater revenue in the future.
4. The Fear of Responsibility
As a business owner, you may be responsible for your own livelihood, which is scary enough in itself. But you may also be responsible for supporting a family, and, as your business grows, for your employees’ livelihoods. That’s a lot of responsibility, but you can handle it with careful planning and good decision making. Set short-term goals for revenue so you can make adjustments to stay on track. Understand what you need to be bringing in to add an employee, making sure you account for benefits and other costs.
5. The Fear of Letting Go
Entrepreneurs can be, by nature, controlling. Their idea is their “baby,” and no one can nurture it like they can. While this may sometimes be true, there comes a time when you will need to let go of at least a piece of your idea. You may need to bring in a partner or manager, or you may need to give up some equity in your company in exchange for much-needed funding. Or, you may get an offer to buy your company or your product that is simply too good to pass up. In any event, recognizing from the start that there may come a day when you will have to share your passion with others will help you make smarter decisions when that time comes.
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6. The Fear of Being Overwhelmed
A common fear of would-be entrepreneurs is that of having to do it all. When you start a business, you are responsible for sales, marketing, production, finance and human resources. You may also be responsible for cleaning the office, answering the phones and setting up the internet. Even if you have a partner, or you hire staff, there’s always the possibility you’ll be working 60 or more hours a week, even after your business has become established. If this is your fear, consider setting a limit on the number of hours you’ll work or the number of customers you’ll take on before you bring in help. And remember that you can get contract help for just about anything — accounting, sales, marketing — even answering the phone.
7. The Fear of Competition
If your product or service is a first-of-its-kind, you may enjoy a first-mover advantage. But eventually, other companies will become aware of your offering and may try to replicate it or create something else that solves the same problem for customers. The way to overcome this fear is to recognize that competition is actually a validation of your idea. The bonus is that competition can also increase the size of the customer “pie,” resulting in a larger market and more revenue for all the players.
The Bottom Line
Starting a business isn’t for everyone, and if overcoming these fears feels impossible, entrepreneurship might not be for you. If you make the decision to take the leap into entrepreneurship, you’ll soon see that these fears are very real, but you can overcome them. Addressing them early on and developing a workable action plan to conquer them can help you start your business on the right foot. Now, what are you waiting for?
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