A good friend of mine recently lost her job. She has been toying with the idea of opening her own business for the last two years, and she is now approaching this topic again. After many conversations, advice and encouragement I was offering, she confessed to me that really she is just plain afraid. I don’t blame her.
My very wise mentor Michael Port once told me: “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” He was not kidding. Entrepreneurship is a series of sometimes scary decisions. Fear is what holds people back. Fear is what dictates bad decisions. For some reason, people think they aren’t good enough just because they are afraid. Let me tell you what I know about fear.
It sucks. It cripples you. As an entrepreneur, it can down right destroy your business. But you cannot let it hang out for long, that I know for sure. So as someone who has made a ton of mistakes, and will likely make a ton more as I navigate entrepreneurship, let me tell you how you can handle your fears.
1. Acknowledge what you are afraid of. A lot of people will tend to stick their head in the sand and pretend that everything is fine and it will all go away. Newsflash: it won’t. Take a good look at whatever it is and find out what you are really afraid of. The unknown is never as scary as the known. So analyze what it is you are afraid of and face it.
2. Get educated. There is a phrase that my best friend (who is also an entrepreneur) and I use all the time: Knowledge is power. A lot of the times, fear comes from thinking you do not know enough. Do your research, get as much information as possible about whatever it is you are afraid of, and then make the best educated guess you can. Worse case scenario is that if you are wrong, now you know one way NOT to do it. Learn from that and move on.
3. You are not perfect. A lot of entrepreneurs hold back because they are stressing over the need to have everything be absolutely perfect. They don’t want to make a fool out of themselves, so consequently they never finish projects because the aren’t “right.” DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT. Nobody is perfect. Even you. So finish what you started and if it needs improving you will do so on the second round. Get off the pedestal of perfect and move on!
4. Keep your eye on the prize. Most people live their lives beholden to employment from others. Some are happy with that, but entrepreneurs want to be in charge. They want to take their passions and turn them into something they get to do every day – and get paid for it. What is your prize? Making your own schedule? Being in charge of when you work and when you don’t? Changing the world? Just like the quote on the picture with this post from Jack Canfield – “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” How far are you willing to go to do what you love? What risks are you willing to take? What fears are you ready to overcome? Sometimes it is easier to accomplish all of these things if you just keep your eye on the prize.
5. Do not wait until the eleventh hour to ask for help. Here we go again with the whole “being afraid to ask for help because we don’t want people to think we are stupid” thing again. Sometimes, the thing you need to accomplish will take a team. Sometimes it is just a simple conversation to help you think through the details more clearly. Just because you are asking for help does not make you incapable. It makes you smarter. It means you are doing your due diligence and rocking Step #2 I just talked about. For goodness sake, find a mentor and ask for help when you need it.
Bottom line, fear is normal – and it is not going anywhere. Ever. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and keep your eye on the prize.