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Can Fear Ruin You? – hang_in_there via photopin cc

What are you afraid of most?

Snakes…heights…in-laws? Or maybe you have phobophobia, the dreaded fear of fears.

Ok, those types of fears aside, what fears are having an impact on your business or your ability to start a business?

For me, I would have to say fear of failure or fear of not doing something right. I have spent a lot of time trying to perfect certain tasks and action items in starting If I had a nickel for every logo tweak I made, I could retire right now!

Some would say fear is an excuse. For instance, being afraid of failure could easily manifest itself into “not starting”. After all, if you are afraid of something it’s like a free pass. “Oh, I didn’t start that business, because it wasn’t ready.” That thinking shifts the blame off of you so you don’t look like a failure. (At least in your mind)

But I would challenge you to try and find a successful business that, 3 years ago, is EXACTLY the same as it is today. Same product? Same employees? Same strategies? I doubt it.

So here we go, 3 fears and how to conquer them so they don’t conquer you.

Fear of failure

No one likes to fail. But for some, failure may mean a lot more. “I can’t do it.” “People will think less of me.” “My (mother, spouse, friends, colleagues) won’t support me.” And the list goes on. This can be a real show stopper for some people trying to start a new venture.

The fix

Don’t look at your business as a success or failure right out of the gate. It is a process. If I am planting grass in my yard and on the second day I give up because the grass is not 3” tall yet…that is not a failure. I need to water the grass, add fertilizer and wait for some sunshine. If one kind of grass doesn’t grow, I try another. Only after I have exhausted my resources, can I determine success or failure.

You also need to define what success looks like. If you don’t have a reasonable metric or goal, you won’t know if you have failed or not. Is it a certain number of customers? A monetary figure? A product design?

Fear of public speaking

This one is difficult. Is it a fear of speaking to large groups? Or are you afraid of almost any discussions that you are supposed to be in charge of? Are you an introvert and you wish you were an extravert?

The fix

You really need to boil it down to the actual fear. Are you fearful when you are talking to strangers or people you know? Is the bottom line that you are afraid you will make a mistake and not look “perfect”? Or will possible forgetfulness make you feel like you are coming across as ignorant.

Make it a point to talk on the phone and in person as often as possible. There are different skills for each. Email is a great communication tool, but it won’t help address your speaking fears.

Talk to your customers. Talk to your friends about a topic you are not an expert on. Join a group like BNI or the Chamber of Commerce. Networking with other like-minded people will ease the pain.

If you are on a phone call or have a meeting with someone, take some notes beforehand. Don’t be afraid of using those notes. Not everything needs to be memorized.

People realize that you might not have every answer to every question. Don’t tap dance your way around it. Let them know you are unsure and will get back with them. Then be sure to get back to them with the answer!

Practice is really a must here. There is no magic pill for getting over your fear of public speaking…except doing it more often. So find some ways to break into it in smaller doses.

Fear of Change

Some people have routines. They sleep on the same side of the bed. Make coffee before both eyes are open. Eat the same breakfast every day. Being in the military will give you a little regiment in your life. (Now THAT is an understatement.)

But to be a successful entrepreneur (and remember you need to define what that is) you are probably in for a bit of a change.

The Fix

Force yourself to change things up. It will take effort. But it will also help prepare you for some of the curve balls that a business will throw at you.

If you are unable to change the way you do something before you start a business, you will be in for a big surprise when things don’t work out as planned.

Find out why something changed. Did it need to be changed? Does the change help you, your customers or employees? If so, see how best to implement that change to now make it part of your routine.

There are only about another million types of fear that you could face. But attack it head on. Find out “why” something is fearful and work toward a plan to overcome it.

If you’ve ever heard the quote “Ignorance is bliss.” erase it from your mind. Ignorance is simply one more thing that has to be dealt with, just like “What do I do when I run out of toilet paper?” There is an answer, you just have to find a solution!

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About Brian Richardson

Entrepreneur, father, grandfather, Christian, start-up fanatic