Scared to Start: How to Overcome the Fears of Starting a Business
Let’s peel back the curtain and talk about something a little scary here for a second. (Eeek!)
Fears…. we all, have ‘em right?
I think it’s high time to talk about some of them! Speaking with new business owners is one of my favorite zones to be in because they’re excited and there’s this creative buzz in the air. But this also means there are fears, too.
“Do you think this is a good idea?” a friend asked me one day after sharing a business idea. It all seemed to come together fully-formed like it had been simmering for a while and was now ready to be served up.
“Of course I do, it’s great!” I said, already thinking about the styling elements and moving parts. The more we talked about it, the more excitement there was.
Then I sensed this small creeping air of doubt, like this vaporous cloud of this is great and all, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. These vaporous clouds of doubt are responsible for more than their fair share of discarded ideas…
Sometimes fears are legitimate and definitely a good thing. They can keep us in check and prevent us from being impulsive. They may say, “Hey, you might want to slow down or check this out first.” But if it’s the same fear over and over, or it’s this loud, obnoxious thing keeping you from starting something you’re truly passionate about, then it’s time to take a good hard look at them!
So how can we lessen the fears that badger us when it comes to starting our own businesses? And how can we deal with the thoughts and actions that can sometimes come up as a result?
Self Sabotage is One Stealthy Ninja
We’re all familiar with it. The phenomenon of falling into actions that actively block an outcome we’re rooting for. It’s secretive, stealthy, and quick like a ninja. Before we know it, self-sabotage has struck again.
If you want a clean home, self-sabotage is like the cat that loves to knock over everything. If you want an online business, self-sabotage can be like that tiny little voice in your head that says “Excuse me, but everyone else is ahead of you already so let’s just Netflix today,” or, “This doesn’t seem like it’s working, let’s scrap it all and start over, even though it’s only been a week.”
Self-sabotage is often a protection mechanism that signals that more than likely there’s a big fear looming underneath.
Even if you don’t think you have any fears around starting a business, even if you want to do your own thing so badly, there may still be some fears there, maybe fears of being seen, making money, or just being out there (insert yours here!).
These fears can drive self-sabotaging patterns in the background just like a program working behind the scenes in a computer operating system. It’s like the ultimate stealth mode. To top it off there may be guilt involved, and you may blame yourself or think you must have a bad work ethic, are a procrastinator, or must be too lazy for not being able to make things work. This has happened to me and I would be genuinely perplexed at how I could want something so badly one day and yet simultaneously sabotage it all the next day. One word: fear.
Speaking with a trusted friend or a professional you trust is such a great way to get support on this and I would highly recommend it! Plus they can also help address connections in other areas of your life, too!
So what are some of these fears that get in the way and how can we address them?
Calming the Thoughts of, “Why Me? What Is So Special About Me?”
There’s sometimes a sense of separation when seeing someone else chase a dream, achieve a goal, or live out an aspiration. Sure, they can do it, and it’s inspiring to watch them do so. But when it comes to applying that same level of vision to ourselves, that can be so much harder!
It’s often way more comfortable to see ourselves in a smaller light. It’s simpler, easier, cozier, we’re sheltered, it’s safe.
But you are one of a kind! And there are so many people out there who you have already inspired and made a difference for along the way, and maybe all you did was hold a door open, share advice, teach a class, help a customer, or give a compliment. And it was natural and easy for you.
I believe we are all created for a purpose that is completely unique for us, so just give your talents freely, naturally, and simply show up and be committed to being you for someone else. Your gifts and talents will come out naturally because they’re part of you!
There is nothing more special about the people out there who have “made it” than you right now, sitting right where you are. They don’t have any special ingredients you don’t have. Repeat that. Write it down. Re-read it. You’ve got this!
Get Started And Close That Gap
You may have had this business idea for years, waiting for the perfect time to put it into action! But maybe the timing has never seemed just right. Maybe it’s just been too terrifying to wonder if the whole thing might fall right through as soon as you get started, or never take off, and then you’ll never want to go after a dream again.
Maybe it’s high time to tell those fears, “Not today!” Sure, the business idea may change or morph with time, your idea may even completely lead to something else! You may even decide in two years that it’s not your biggest dream anymore. Either way, if it’s a dream of yours, it’s a road made just for you. The only failure is if you never start.
Just getting started closes that limbo-like gap between dreaming and doing and can quiet those fears of “What if this fails?”
A great first step is to just commit to starting. Make those decisions, get things going, take clear action, and have fun! As a special challenge, what can you do today, right now, to get started? What can you begin to put in motion right now? What actions can you take today to plant the seeds of harvest for your dream? Go for it!
Create a Plan to Create Structure
A train can’t run without train tracks, so the builders lay down the tracks way ahead of time, and by the time a conductor hops aboard, he or she knows where the train will be headed. There may be minor course changes, like with a fallen tree, bad weather, or a switch in the track, but the tracks have been laid out. The course has been set.
Having a plan for your business idea is just like that. You may not be able to foresee all of the circumstances surrounding your track, but if you have a plan laid out with intention, it will create a structure that you can take action on that will give you not only a sense of direction but also security and a way to measure your progress to know if things are working.
If you don’t have a plan or a way to know if your efforts are actually making a difference, then it can be really tempting to give up too soon!
A plan can be as simple as setting achievable goals each month, planning your tasks each week, structuring your time, or just tracking your progress to make sure that your actions are actually creating positive momentum. This step alone does wonders!
But What If It All Fails…?
Ahhhh, the Big Kahuna of all the fears! What if it fails? What if I make no money? What if I can’t keep it going? What if I just embarrass myself by trying? What will everyone think of me if this goes nowhere?
Ok, here’s a helpful exercise. Write out all of your fears on a sheet of paper. Like, physically write them out. Get honest, get it all out. Be ruthless and leave no stone unturned. Leave a couple lines of space in between each fear.
Now, start with the scariest fear. Use your gut to pull you toward the one that bothers you the most, and then toward each subsequent one after that. Now, if you like to bring your faith into the mix, this is a great time to pray about your fears. Or if you love to meditate, try meditating on each fear.
Ponder each one until you can come up with possible solutions for each fear.
The fear: What if I don’t make any money and I have to quit?!
Calm the fear: If money is tight, I could always get a job that I’m interested in, maybe one that’s part-time so I can still work on this without being stressed out. I won’t have to give up!
Work through each fear until you have an actionable response for each one. Getting all of your fears out on paper can be really therapeutic, and sometimes it’s easy to see how silly some of the fears really are.
Also, calling out each one prevents them from running their own show in the back of your mind. And again, talking with a trusted friend or professional about your fears is always a great idea too so they can help you work through them.
You’ve Got This!
You’ve got big dreams, and they’re ready to see the light of day. Give it a shot, you never know what may happen! The first step simply begins with one brave decision to start.
If you were able to spot your own unique fears in this list I hope it was able to help you in some way. I mean hey, I’ve been there too! We’re all human! We’ve got fears. And sharing them is so helpful because it allows us all to just take the pressure off, lower our masks, and instead imperfectly go forward putting one foot in front of the other each and every day.
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What is the biggest fear you have in starting your business? Leave a comment about your story or experience below!