Whether you’re a new or seasoned business owner, chances are you regularly encounter fear. Entrepreneurship is a huge personal growth experience and, whatever industry you’re in, part of your job involves learning to manage your fears so you can keep moving forward.
Having spoken to a lot of business owners over the last two years, I’ve learned that even though it’s tempting to think we’re the only ones that feel this way, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here are three of the most common fears entrepreneurs experience and how to reframe them.
1. What if I fail?
When I hear clients talk about failure, one of the first questions I ask is: What does failure look like to you?
Sometimes, naming our personal definition of failure brings relief, as it helps us see the many opportunities for intervention and course-correction long before we reach that point. Even when that’s not the case, we can ease our fear of failure by redefining what failure represents.
From a young age, we’re taught to avoid failure at all costs. In certain environments (like school), it’s even punished. In business and in real life, however, failure is just feedback. If you’re “failing,” that means you’re getting out there, trying things, and getting useful data and feedback in response.
Far from being something to avoid, failure is actually a sign of progress.
2. What if people don't like me/my business/what I’m doing?
Some people definitely won’t—and they’ll be more than happy to tell you so. As Dita Von Teese said “You can be the ripest, juciest peach in the world, and there’ll still be someone who hates peaches.”
As business owners, we need to be able to discern constructive criticism from what I call “cut-down” criticism. Constructive criticism can still be challenging to hear. But it comes from someone who can see your potential and has suggestions for how you can make it a reality.
Cut-down criticism, as the name suggests, is not about helping you. It’s about leveling the perceived playing field, and it’s always a reflection of what’s happening internally for the critic, rather than the state of you or your business. It’s rarely helpful and rarely warrants a reply.
Both kinds of criticism are inevitable and the best thing we can do for ourselves and our businesses is to learn how to tell the difference and respond accordingly.
3. What if I end up losing my weekends/freedom/sanity/relationship because I’m so invested in my business?
Fear of failure is widely discussed and accepted, but fear of success (and the changes success brings) can be just as potent and crippling. We all want our businesses to succeed, but at what cost?
Running your own business is hard work, but you don’t necessarily need to sacrifice everything else that’s important in your life to do it. If you value your weekends, freedom, sanity and relationships, start acting in a way that reflects your priorities.
Yes, there might be trade-offs. Maybe your business won’t grow as quickly, maybe you won’t be able to attend X conference or take part in Y opportunity. But you also won’t be doing your best work if you’re not living and working in alignment with your values.
You have control over your calendar, so use it. Nobody gets to tell you what your priorities should be; that’s your decision. If you’re not getting enough family time, schedule it in. If you need a sanity day, take it. If you want more freedom in your life, get curious about what is going to invoke that experience for you.
Running your own business can be scary, but it’s also invigorating, exciting, and a chance to make profound internal shifts that will ripple across all areas of your life.
How do you handle business-related fear? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hannah Braime helps creatives develop the psychological and emotional tools that enable them do their most important and courageous work. Visit hannahbraime.com for more articles and resources, download your free ebook The A to Z of Creative Joy, and say “Hi!” @hannahbraime on Twitter.