When Gallup asked potential business-owners why they hadn’t taken the plunge into entrepreneurship, several common reasons emerged. Entrepreneur’s biggest fears include losing the security of a steady income (84 percent), not having enough personal savings to launch a business (68 percent) and concerns about the low success rate of new startups (66 percent).
Starting a business can be one of the most exciting—and terrifying—times in your life. But if you’re serious about launching a business and reaping the benefits of entrepreneurship, you’ll need to manage those fears and learn to overcome the feelings of imposter syndrome.
Plenty of successful entrepreneurs bootstrapped their business or started it as a side project, so you don’t always need a lot of money or unlimited time, but you do need confidence and a plan. With that in mind, here are five effective strategies that can help you face an entrepreneur’s biggest fears whenever they pop up.
1. Entrepreneur’s Biggest Fears #1: Self Doubt
Maybe you doubt the viability of your business. Perhaps someone or something has you worried that your business idea might be lacking or that customers won’t want what you’re selling.
Some people would tell you to shake off the haters and forge ahead, but there could be some validity to these concerns. Instead of shrugging it off, which many people won’t be able to do anyway, take criticism as an opportunity to re-evaluate your business. Worst case scenario? They were right and now you can update your business strategy accordingly. Best case scenario? They were wrong–and you can prove it using case studies and market analysis.
No matter what happens, the lesson here is to seek comfort in facts, rather than opinions or speculation. As a business owner, you’ll meet plenty of people who want to give their two cents about your business. The key is to find comfort in your own research and data. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling self-doubt every time someone asks “are you sure that’s a good idea?”
2. Entrepreneur’s Biggest Fears #2: Doing it All Alone
The many hats that entrepreneurs need to wear can feel overwhelming: accounts payable, tech support and marketing to a name a few. But while you may not have someone on staff to handle those tasks, it doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
Build a personal board of directors so you can consult trusted mentors when you need advice. Tap into government resources or other resources designed to help small businesses flourish. Invest in the tools that can help your business run more smoothly, whether it’s an invoicing tool like Freshbooks or a marketing platform that can help spread the word about your business.
3. Entrepreneur’s Biggest Fears #3: Staying On Top of Everything
The gateway to fear and negative self-talk is constant stress. So, the next logical step is to minimize stress brought on by your business. Easier said than done, right?
Many entrepreneurs stress themselves out by multitasking. The rationale is that doing multiple things at once will end up freeing up more time in their schedules. Unfortunately, that’s not really how the human brain works.
The American Psychological Association reports that several studies show multitasking doesn’t make you more efficient. In fact, a study conducted by Stanford University researchers proved that chronic multitaskers made more mistakes and took longer to complete tasks than infrequent multitaskers.
Instead of trying to juggle activities and meetings, try “batching” them. Batching is simply grouping tasks together and focusing on one task at a time. As simple as it might sound, the lack of distractions and task-shifting will improve your efficiency and reduce your overall stress level.
4. Entrepreneur’s Biggest Fears #4: Is the Timing Right?
For whatever reason, people tend to think there’s going to be an ideal time to start a business. Unfortunately, life never gets less stressful. The longer you wait, the more responsibilities you’ll have and the less likely you’ll be to follow through on starting your own business.
No matter when you decide to start your business, it’ll never be “the perfect time.” So, just do your best to prepare, then make the leap. Many tech entrepreneurs use the term “minimum viable product,” meaning you can launch a product as early as possible and refine it as you go based on customer feedback instead of waiting for perfection and never launching.
5. Entrepreneur’s Biggest Fears #4: Fear of the Unknown
Self-doubt can be vicious. Left unchecked, it can undermine your business, not to mention your sanity. This last point might be the most challenging to implement, but it’s also the most powerful.
Belief in your ability to execute is going to be the key to your success. There will always be competitors out there with more experience and better connections than you. Still, you need conviction that your plan is going to work. The most important step to becoming a successful business owner is believing you can be.
If there’s any doubt in your mind that you can’t accomplish your goals, go back through these steps. Take a good honest look at yourself and decide whether or not you can do this. Find something you love and accept the fact that it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Once you do that, you could be hooked on entrepreneurship for life.
So, what do you think? Did we miss any strategies for overcoming entrepreneur’s biggest fears? Can anyone be an entrepreneur or is it reserved for a brave few? Let me know in the comments below.
About the Author: Freelance journalist Susan Johnston Taylor covers entrepreneurship, small business and lifestyle for publications including The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and FastCompany.com. Follow her on Twitter@UrbanMuseWriter.
This is an archived post from the FreshBooks Blog and was originally published in February 2016.