Fear is a common feeling that all of us have experienced at least once in our lives. I remember feeling afraid the very first day of school, at my first job and even walking down the aisle. There is just that moment of doubt that sets in along with other ingredients that create the recipe for fear. This same fear can also grip you as an entrepreneur, but if you acknowledge what is at the heart of that feeling, you can realize you don’t have to be afraid and can then overcome it.
Here’s a list of some of the most common entrepreneurial fears, and how to overcome them.
Fear of the Unknown
The first time out the gate as an entrepreneur is scary. That sense of the unknown can leave you like a deer in the headlights and stop you from pursuing your passion. Instead of fearing what you don’t know, embrace it.
You will only really learn by doing whatever it is you want to do. Preparation, which includes having studied your market, audience and competition, as well as conferred with others, like mentors and investors, does help to considerably dial down the fear. The more I learned about what I was taking on, the more confidence I gained, especially when I surrounded myself with others who had already started and managed successful businesses.
Fear of Rejection
The fear that no one will like your product or service goes hand in hand with the idea of failing. Essentially, if no one likes what you offer, then your business isn’t going to survive. I had a mentor tell me that I would never know if I was going to fail or succeed if I never put what I had to offer out there for people to decide.
While I could not control what people thought of my idea, there were things that could be done to increase the likelihood that my business idea would not be rejected or fail. It went back to preparation. In this case, the answer for overcoming this fear was listening to my target audience. They told me what they needed or were looking for, which was information I could use to help pivot my idea to align with their desires, thus decreasing the chances of rejection.
There are also many people who seem to enjoy criticizing or watching others fail. These people should not be your focus. That’s wasted energy and takes away from the true success that can be achieved. These naysayers are actually just jealous that they have not thought of anything that is marketable, or they are trapped by their own deep-seated fear.
Fear of Failure
Beyond rejection, the concern over failure is a huge barrier for entrepreneurs. It’s understandable, as many statistics speak to the fact that the majority of new businesses shutter their doors in the first few years. Many have given up reliable jobs to make the leap into something that they don’t know will work or not.
For me, I was in the midst of rehabilitation to learn to walk again, so I had a slightly different mindset. Since I was determined and succeeded at my goal, I truly believed that anything was possible.
Anyone who wants to succeed as an entrepreneur should focus mentally on winning, not the chance of losing. There’s also the fact that many wildly successful people have failed, and are not afraid to tell you about it or how it might have actually helped them succeed later on with other ventures.
Fear of Being Less Than Perfect
To ensure I was successful, I wanted my offering to be perfect before it was launched. I thought any imperfections would lead to that aforementioned rejection. When I look back on the many months I spent on trying to fix and fuss over everything, I realized it was fear that was making me do that rather than an inherent desire for quality.
There comes a point in time, however, when it’s critical to get what you have out there before someone else beats you to it. Certain tweaks can be made later on, and don’t have to affect the overall impression that you want to make in the market. Plenty of technology companies have made a big splash and have been well-received while behind-the-scenes bugs were still being worked out.
Customers now typically expect some imperfections, but if they have an emotional connection to what you are offering, they won’t care. This means that you can again quell that fear by working on those things that create that emotional connection. Save working on any minor flaws for after your product’s launch.
Fight the Fear
The biggest thing to fight in starting your own business is not external. It’s your own mental state, where self-doubt and negativity creep in and pull you backwards. You are afraid of failure, including losing money and your reputation. If you don’t go forward, however, armed with research, support and a positive frame of mind, you will never know success.