At some point or another, every entrepreneur has wondered if they are on the right track and if the business they are pouring their time, money, and energy into is actually going to work out how they hope. But the reality is that these fears and doubts are just part of starting your own business. As an entrepreneur, there will be times when you’re not sure that things will work out. And it is in these moments that you need to be able to take a step back and look at the situation, and your thoughts, in a different way.
Financial insecurities, temporary setbacks, and the usual challenges that life throws at you can be daunting. The majority of ‘would-be’ entrepreneurs will throw in the towel and quit the moment the going gets tough. They falsely believe that they don’t have what it takes to succeed or the journey is just too tough for them. They fear the ‘hard yards’ and the trials that must be endured in order to see success. They quit out of fear.
At the end of the day, when it comes to fear, you really only have two choices:
Forget Everything And Run
Face Everything And Rise
The choice is quite obvious. While the first one will be easy, it will leave you stranded in the muck and mire of mediocrity. Your dreams and goals will die from strangulation by fear. Choose the second option, and you’ll push past your fear with grim determination.
When you come out on the other side, you’ll be emotionally stronger, mentally tougher, and you’ll taste the fruits of success. Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
In this guide, we’ll look at 5 of the most common fears that plague entrepreneurs and how you can rise above them to achieve the life and business you were created for!
1. Fear of the Unknown
This is probably one of the biggest fears that entrepreneurs face. When you’re starting your own business, while you may have done your homework and prepared the best you can, there will ALWAYS be a certain degree of uncertainty. That’s just the way it is. You must always remember that you can’t discover new lands if you’re afraid to lose sight of the shore.
You have to push through and go with your heart, even if it’s beating uncontrollably fast. Sometime in 1999, there was a movie called “3 Kings”. In one scene in the film, a young soldier who was feeling afraid approached Sergeant Major Archie Gates (George Clooney) with a question, and he replied, “The way this works is… you do the thing you’re scared sh*tless of, and you get the courage after you do it. Not before you do it.”
Although quite crass, this statement is very true, and it applies across the board. If you’re worried that you may not have the skills to create a successful business, go ahead and do it anyway. Then learn as you go along. You must have the faith to take the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase. The best way to put an end to your fear of the unknown is to have faith.
You must believe in yourself and what you’re trying to achieve.
Every day, countless people are hoping to start a business and make quick and easy money. Most of them fail and quit. The road to success is paved with the crushed dreams of the many who have tried and quit. They quit because they didn’t believe in themselves, and they let fear take over. Like John Stewart Mill said, “One person with belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who only have interest.”
The next time you have doubts and fears, ask yourself why you’re feeling them. Maybe you’ve been making a stable income with your “side-hustle,” but you’re worried about quitting your day job because of the security it provides. By asking yourself why you have this fear, you’ll understand that what you really fear is that you might have no money in case your new business dries up.
Now you’ll be able to make a plan of action to overcome this concern, such as saving up enough money to last you six months in case of any unexpected setbacks. If you do not analyze your fears and all you do is let them control you and hold you back, your life will become stagnant, and in almost all cases, you will end up quitting. The only way to progress is to keep moving forward no matter what setbacks you encounter along the way.
2. The Fear of Failure
This is another major fear that paralyzes so many entrepreneurs from acting on their goals and dreams. The fear of failure has stopped more people in their tracks than any other fear. Usually, this fear is disguised in many different ways. If you’re worried that all your efforts will go to waste and that you will make no money, that’s a fear of failure. Most people say they just ‘don’t want to waste their time on something that won’t work.’
The hard truth is that you’ll never know unless you try. It may take you three years to build a business that’s making you six figures a year. But guess what? If the fear of failure keeps you from trying in the first place, you will never know what could have been.
The three years will go by, and chances are your life will probably be the same. Whereas if you had moved forward with your goals, you just might be in the six-figure income category. Many people fear failure because they are scared they will look foolish in front of their friends and family or are worried about criticism from their peers.
In all reality, what others think of you should be the least of your concerns. You may notice that when you try to better yourself and do things that others don’t do, your friends and family may even be your harshest critics. The truth is that by you making progress and achieving your goals, you may inadvertently end up shining a spotlight on their own failures.
It makes them feel threatened, and the only way for them to feel better is to drag you down to their level so that the status quo can be maintained. This is a hard truth of life, and by realizing that what others think of you does not actually affect you in any way, this fear of looking foolish will disappear all on its own. Lao Tzu once said, “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
The best way to deal with the fear of failure is to ask yourself what could possibly go wrong. Now plan out what countermeasures you can take to prevent your endeavors from failing. Spend time visualizing yourself pushing past obstacles and succeeding. Repeat this visualization process daily and even a couple of times a day. This will give you faith and belief in yourself to keep going forward.
3. The Fear That You Are Not Good Enough
This fear usually arises when you have experienced a tough failure at a previous time in your life. Many people do not do well academically while in school because they had no natural affinity or interest in the subjects they were learning. The girl who was gifted at art and writing may have failed at math and science and couldn’t go further than high school. This failure may make her feel like she can’t succeed at anything in life even though she has all the potential to be extremely successful.
The very wise Albert Einstein once said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The point of that statement is that one should not judge themselves based on how they performed in school or previous jobs. There are countless stories of people who failed many times and finally succeeded beyond their wildest dreams once they found their true calling.
Never give up on yourself. Fortune favors the bold. Usually, when you’re trying to build a business, there will be a learning curve that you’ll have to go through. This is inevitable. You will make mistakes. You will hire the wrong person. You will purchase the wrong products. And you will waste time and money. This is just part of the process and can’t be avoided. However, if you quit while at this stage because you feel like you’re not good enough, you’ll NEVER get better.
You only get better as you keep learning and progressing. Many beginners look at super-famous entrepreneurs and feel intimidated. They believe that the other guys are smarter, richer, and better than them. Do not compare yourself with others. This is a huge mistake and will always leave you feeling discontented. You may be comparing your beginning with someone else’s finish. It’s not fair to you and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. All you need to do is focus on being the best that you can be.
Here’s the truth. Everybody started off as a beginner. You do not become successful overnight. There is a journey that you have to go through, and go through it you must. Fearing that you’ll never amount to much will mean that you have given up before you even started. You must have confidence. Chalk up every little failure that you encounter along the way as a learning experience. You can’t extrapolate from incomplete data. The more you learn, the better you’ll get.
The more mistakes you make, the better. Failure is not the opposite of success. It is a part of success. You are good enough just as you are. You just need to believe it.
4. The Fear That You’re Late or Too Old
This is another big one. You may have heard things like ‘The good ol’ days are over’ or ‘You’re too old to start a business’… But are these statements even true? Of course not. While some types of businesses may come and go, being an entrepreneur is here to stay, and every single day there are people, just like you, that are succeeding. It’s never too late to start, and now is as good a time as any.
You’re also never too old to set new goals or dream new dreams. Stan Lee created his first hit comic close to his 39th birthday. Henry Ford was 45 when he created the Model T car. Ray Croc started MacDonald’s at the age of 52, and Colonel Sanders was 62 when he franchised KFC. As you can see, people have succeeded in life at all ages. You’re never too old. So cast this fear aside and pursue your dreams today.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese proverb
5. Limiting Beliefs
The fifth and final fear is actually not a “fear” at all but an incorrect belief pattern. There are many people who have been held back from success because of their own beliefs about what they are and are not capable of. This is because while growing up, we formed our beliefs based on what we saw, what we heard, and what we were told.
One good example of this phenomenon is overweight people who feel that they’re ‘destined’ to be fat. Their parents, siblings, relatives, and everyone close to them is overweight, so they buy into the story that they are naturally predisposed to obesity. While to a certain extent it could be true because of genetic factors, the truth of the matter is that food choices, eating habits, attitudes towards food, etc., are often passed down from parents to the kids.
Because of this, all they ever knew about food and eating was what they saw and heard. If they decided to eat clean, exercise more, and watch their calories, they’d most likely lose the excess pounds and probably end up being the leanest person in their family. But getting to this stage requires one to overcome their limited thinking and believe that they are actually capable of achieving this.
The same applies to people who grew up in low-income families where the parents expressed how hard money was hard to come by, or that rich people were evil and greedy. With beliefs like these, their subconscious mind will not allow them to build wealth because they wouldn’t want to be evil and greedy, would they?
Overcoming your limited self-beliefs is a Herculean task, but it can be done. You will need to be alert to the way you think and proactive in correcting yourself. Once you realize that your only limit is you, your life will change, and you’ll be able to conquer this obstacle. You are worthy of success.
By now, you’ll realize that fear is false evidence appearing real. The best way to conquer fear is through action. Analyzing why you feel the way you do is helpful, but nothing beats action when it comes to dispelling fear. Do what you fear most, and the fear will vanish.
Never let your fear decide your future. Make a good plan, have contingencies in place, and work your plan till you succeed. Even during the darkest hours, when everything around you may feel like it’s all about to collapse and all your fears are telling you that you’re about to fail, dig your heels in and keep pushing forward.
It’s always darkest before the dawn. Keep going. You’ve got this!