Anyone who has contemplated forsaking the perceived, if not real, security of employment to start a small business has come face-to-face with the fear of failure.
Indeed, countless would-be entrepreneurs have discontinued their self-employment pursuits for fear of losing too much—the risk being just too great.
But if you pushed through these concerns and actually became a business owner, you know that this isn’t the last time you’ll experience fear. And time will teach you that fear can actually be a good thing.
Not paralyzing fear — like when you’re ignorant of how to prevent or recover from danger. But rather the kind of fear that motivates you to take the steps to be aware, knowledgeable, capable, prepared, decisive and effective.
Remember these two things about fear: It’s a shape-shifter, capable of appearing in many forms. Successful entrepreneurs learn how to recognize and deal with fear it in all of its shapes.
Let’s take a look at some of the manifestations of fear, followed by what each one might sound like.
First on the list is the mother of all fear — unremitting, cold sweat, cottonmouth fear in its default entrepreneurial shape: “What if I can’t cut it as an owner?”
Terror: “What if I’m buying the wrong business?”
Fright: “What if I order all of this stuff and no one buys it?”
Panic: “What if my pricing for this bid is too high—or worse—too low?”
Dread: “I hate it when I have to fire an employee.”
Trepidation: “I need a business loan; what if the bank won’t let me have it?”
Anxiety: “How will I ever be able to compete with the Big Box competitors?”
Shock: “What do you mean our best customer signed a contract with a competitor?”
The best way to minimize—if not eliminate—these fears is through performance. But performance only happens when you use the fear-fighting tools: awareness, knowledge, experience, training, planning, preparedness, decisiveness and execution.
Armed with the fear-fighting tools, fear can become manageable and a productive stimulus that actually can create opportunity. But if you don’t use these tools, the fear you feel is probably well founded and giving you good advice.
The only way to make sure your fear is a motivator and not an immobilizer is through performance. And small business performance only happens when you’re armed with the fear-fighting tools.
Write this on a rock…The fear-fighting tools help you replace fear with its archenemy, total confidence.
Jim Blasingame is one of the world's leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the creator and award-winning host of the nationally syndicated radio program, The Small Business Advocate® Show. In addition to his weekly columns, Jim is the author of two books; Small Business is like a Bunch of Bananas and Three Minutes to Success.