How to Conquer The Fear That Comes With Being An Entrepreneur

Mar 29 2014, 6:02am CDT | by

How to Conquer The Fear That Comes With Being An Entrepreneur
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

The host had run out of questions about a blog I had posted on Forbes and so when the interview ran short she opened it up to questions from listeners of her Midwestern talk show.

“I think I have a good idea for a company,” began the third person who called. “But I am scared to death about starting.  Any advice for me on how I can overcome my fear?”

It was really too bad we only had 10 minutes left, I could have gone on for much longer.

My starting point was this: I don’t know if fear is helpful as a motivating force, as many people have argued, but I do know it is normal.

Going into the unknown—and that is exactly what you are doing every time you start something new—is by definition scary. That fact may be the biggest reason so many do not start anything new. They are literally frozen in place by their fear. The fear of the unknown keeps them from beginning.

The primary cause of that fear is the very real fact the new idea might fail. And that fear, in turn, triggers three worries of it own.

1. A lower self-perception. You think because your idea failed-or might fail—you are, or will be, a failure.  Who wants to view themselves that way? The guaranteed way not to fail is not to start.

2. You worry about what other people will think if your new venture doesn’t work out.

3. You are afraid of the lasting consequences that could come from a failure. There is a very real fear that not only will the unsuccessful attempt use up valuable resources—money; time and reputation capital—but you will have also jeopardized your current status and position in the attempt.

As I said, all those fears are natural. But saying the fear is natural is not particularly helpful nor does it give you a plan to eliminate it.

I think the following can help.

When we think of the something failing, we are usually imagining a full blown venture that hasn’t worked out.  We picture ourselves having invested hundreds (or thousands) of hours of time and untold money to get our idea up and running.  And if that were the case, the failure would certainly be devastating.

But you don’t have to approach starting anything new that way.

Let’s use a couple of extreme examples to hammer home the point.

Sure, you could quit your day job to see if you could turn your hobby of building bird houses into a full-fledged business. Or, you could build a few and take them to local craft fairs and post pictures of them on a retail site like eBay and see if anyone is interested.

If they don’t sell, it is no big deal. You are not out very much either in time or money.  And if they sell, you can take another small step toward making Bird Houses R Us a reality. (Maybe you think about selling your plans as well as the birdhouses, or you hire a retired neighbor to build them for you.)

Similarly, starting from scratch a new pizza joint at Fourth and Main could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take months and would cause a substantial hit if it failed./>/>

But, how much time would it take to survey potential customers and give away samples of what you plan to offer to see if you are on to something.  If people don’t like what you have, or tell you they are really happy with the pizza place two blocks down, your “failure” is small.

The idea here is simple.  If you break the idea of starting something new down into extremely small steps, the risk diminishes and so should the fear.

It also gives you early confirmation that you are onto something or could reveal you need to do more work before you take another step.

There are three other benefits to taking this approach.

– You can get started right away. No elaborate planning is needed. You take a small step and see how the market reacts

– You don’t need a lot of resources to take that small step.

– You can quickly respond to market needs and reactions.

What we have just explored works for established entrepreneurs as well.

Just because you have succeeded once doesn’t mean you won’t have fears when you try for an encore.

Taking small steps should help.

###

Paul B. Brown is the co-author Just Start: Take Action; Embrace Uncertainty and Create the Future published by Harvard Business Review Press.

Please note the blog appears every Wednesday and Saturday.

Click on the “follow” link on the top of this post to receive every post the moment it goes live

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Fareed Zakaria faces fresh plagiarism charges
Washington, Aug 20 (IANS) Indian-American journalist Fareed Zakaria, who two years ago got away from a plagiarism controversy claiming he made a "terrible mistake", is facing fresh plagiarism charges from anonymous internet watchdogs.
 
 
Ukraine seeks combined IMF aid tranches
Kiev, Aug 20 (IANS) Ukraine Wednesday voiced hope that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will consider a possibility of combining the third and fourth tranches of its aid programme for Kiev.
 
 
Investments pouring in from Singapore: Bengal minister
Singapore, Aug 20 (IANS) Camping here to woo investors, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra Wednesday said many companies have signed joint ventures and letters of intent promising to pump in at least Rs.1,200 crore in his state.
 
 
111-year-old Japanese officially declared world's oldest man
Tokyo, Aug 20 (IANS/EFE) Sakari Momoi, a 111-year-old Japanese citizen, was Wednesday officially recognised in Tokyo as the oldest man in the world by the Guinness World Records award committee.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

43 killed in fresh clashes in Ukraine
Kiev, Aug 20 (IANS) At least 43 people, including 34 civilians, were killed in fresh clashes in eastern Ukraine over the last 24 hours, authorities said Wednesday. Nine government troopers were killed and 12 others...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
INS Sahyadri reaches Philippines to enhance naval ties
Manila, Aug 20 (IANS) The Indian Navy's INS Sahyadri arrived in Manila, Philippines Wednesday and made a courtesy port call to reinforce naval ties, a defence ministry statement said. Navy officials said the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
40 soldiers in Nigeria face execution for mutiny
Abuja, Aug 20 (IANS) Nigeria's Chief of Army Staff Kenneth Minimah has said some 40 soldiers in north-eastern Nigeria, who refused to fight the Islamist Boko Haram group, would be court-martialled and sentenced to...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Wife, workmate charged with Sikh man's murder
Wellington, Aug 20 (IANS) The wife of a Sikh man and her workmate have been charged with murdering him in New Zealand, media reported Wednesday. Gurjinder Singh, 25, and Amandeep Kaur, 31, appeared in the Auckland...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Hamas military head alive as Gaza conflict continues (Roundup)
Gaza, Aug 20 (IANS) Islamist movement Hamas said Wednesday its military wing commander Mohammed Deif is alive and still issuing orders in the fight against Israel in the Gaza Strip, according to media reports. Israeli...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Three policemen shot dead in Yemen
Sanaa, Aug 20 (IANS) Three policemen were killed by unidentified gunmen in Yemen's southern province of Abyan late Wednesday, a government official said. The gunmen with assault rifles opened fire at military police...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
West Indies sever ties with Gibson
St. John's (Antigua), Aug 20 (IANS/CMC) Ottis Gibson's tenure as head coach of the West Indies cricket team has ended and team manager and former captain Richie Richardson will take interim charge for the ODI series...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Windies officials fine-tune plans to host international matches
Kingstown (St. Vincent), Aug 20 (IANS/CMC) Cricket authorities in St. Vincent say they are fine-tuning preparations to host four international matches here next month. The West Indies and Bangladesh will play their...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Nigeria football federation headquarters gutted
Abuja, Aug 20 (IANS) A fire gutted the headquarters of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Wednesday but no one was killed or injured in the incident, an official said. Spokesman of the NFF Ademola Olajire said the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Kipchoge aims at Chicago Marathon course record
Nairobi, Aug 20 (IANS) Kenya's Rotterdam marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge will make another attempt to run under the two hours and four minutes when he lines up at the fast course of the Chicago Marathon slated for Oct...
Read more on Sport Balla