5 Ways to Overcome Fear and Launch Your Dream Business
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve either started your own business or plan on doing so in the future. Either way, starting a business can be scary and gives us all plenty to worry about.
What if I…
- Run out of money?
- Can’t get any clients or customers?
- Not good enough?
- Can’t handle the work?
While asking yourself these questions can be helpful in making you prepared, dwelling on them can easily let your fear take over and, worst case scenario, keep you from even trying to get your business off the ground.
Here are 5 tips on how to overcome the fear of failure in launching your dream business and become the entrepreneur you know you can be:
1 – Do What Scares You
Often times, fear comes from imagining the worst case scenario, no matter how far fetched it may be.
“If I start a business and it doesn’t make any money, I’ll lose my house, my car, and I’ll be homeless for the rest of my life…”
Most of the time, what we fear the most never happens or even comes close to happening. In order to start to understand that, we sometimes need to do what scares us. We need to face our fear, head on.
Also known as exposure therapy, facing our fears helps us realize that we are in more control of the situation than we think. When I first thought about setting out as a freelance copywriter, I was genuinely scared that people wouldn’t trust my abilities and would never want to work with me. For weeks I would write emails to prospective clients without sending them, worried about their responses.
I eventually realized that I had to overcome this fear and just started writing and calling clients I hoped to work with.
Most of the time, I didn’t even get a response. Disappointing maybe, but not so scary. I also got some rejections (we’ll talk about that later). Again, not scary. But soon enough, I had enough responses from people who were curious to see more work, which then led to happy and paying clients.
The same goes for telling people I was going out on my own as a freelancer. I thought they would think I was crazy, that it was too big of a risk, or that I just didn’t have the experience. But once I made it known publicly that this was something I was going to seriously pursue, I was inundated with support, words of encouragement, and best of all, immediate referrals. My posts were shared by friends and family. Almost immediately, I was in contact with people who needed help. So, not only were my fears unfounded, they were completely contrary to what actually happened. I imagined ridicule and what I received was immense support.
Facing your fears is harder than it sounds, but when starting a new business, the scariest thing you’re likely to come across is someone saying “no”…which leads us to the next point.
2 – Accept Rejection
Remember the old saying, don’t take no for an answer? Well, forget it. Starting a new business requires hearing a lot of “NO” and you’re going to have to accept it.
Simply put, no matter what you do or sell, it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s not even going to be for MANY people in the grand scheme of things. And that’s okay. Many successful businesses only sell to a few people.
And just because one, or two, or a dozen people say it’s not for them, doesn’t mean it’s not for anyone.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffet was rejected from Harvard.
Jeff Bezos was rejected over 30 times to raise capital for Amazon.
J.K. Rowling was sent 12 rejection letters before publishing Harry Potter.
Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team.
Most roads to success are paved by rejection. It’s normal and, honestly, it’s more common than acceptance. For every 10 cold emails I send, I get one response. And for every 10 responses, only one is a yes. That adds up to a lot of “NO.”
But, true entrepreneurs don’t measure their success by how many times they hear “no”. They measure it by how well they did for the people who said “yes”.
3 – Set Small Goals
One of the more common obstacles with starting a new business is feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work it takes to get it going. When you write down all of the things, big and small, that need to happen, it’s easy to see why someone might want to run and hide under the covers.
Even if you’ve got the spirit to tackle the world and set ambitious goals for yourself, it doesn’t take long to start feeling discouraged by all of your unaccomplished goals.
That’s why it’s important to start small. Give yourself small goals that you know you can accomplish.
Get in the habit of achieving something, no matter how small, every day. Not only is this productive, but it will also help you get used to the idea that you CAN accomplish your goals. It will train your brain into thinking positively about your skills as a business owner and leader.
4 – Dress the Part
Possibly, nothing is more important than making a good first impression. Feeling confident, whether it’s in-person or virtually, is paramount in establishing yourself as knowledgeable and worthy of your customer’s time.
Dress the way you want to be seen, the way YOU feel you look good, and in the clothing in which you’re most comfortable. Usually, this does not require breaking the bank on a whole new wardrobe. You probably already own the clothes that best fit your style and business. But don’t stop at clothing.
In this day, most people will establish their first impression of you by looking at your business or work online. So, make sure you look good online, as well.
I’m not just talking about headshots and profile pictures, either. Make sure you have a website or online representation, where you can direct customers, that looks the part. Whether it’s a well designed and intuitive site or a polished and neat online portfolio.
I’ve talked to too many business owners that have been embarrassed to show people their site or web presence. The lack of confidence in their own site, unfortunately, impacts the confidence others have in their business, no matter how great the product or service may be.
Remember—looking good is feeling good. If you don’t feel good about your business, no one else will.
5 – Breathe
It’s smart to have a strategy for building confidence that includes facing fear and rejection, even when it stings.
But, understanding that strategy and executing it are two very different things. To quote Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.”
So how do you take on the fear of failure or rejection, in the moment?
It’s all about the breath.
That might sound like some New Age wu wu but, many peer-reviewed scientific studies have confirmed the importance of breath in regulating mood and action. When our pulse increases and our adrenaline starts pumping, we often unconsciously restrict our breathing. This, in turn, makes us feel more nervous.
On the flipside, taking longer exhales activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which calms our body down.
Next time you’re paralyzed by a tough decision or forced into an uncomfortable confrontation, try following these four actionable steps:
- Pause – Perhaps the hardest and most important part, catching yourself as you are reacting (or paralyzed)
- Take a deep breath – Just like hitting the reset button.
- Feel into your body – Is your fear localized? Is it accompanied by a physical sensation?
- Think about what you are trying to achieve – How will this action or decision help move your long term goals forward? Are you leaning into your fear and welcoming rejection?
- Act – Follow through on your action, based on the strategies we’ve discussed here.
At the root of our anxieties and apprehension, is the fear of failure. Don’t let yourself think that feeling worried means that you aren’t ready. It just means you’re being mindful.
And, honestly, there’s no way to avoid this reaction. As business owners, we should always try to reduce risk and make successful choices. But growing a business means taking chances, and we can’t guarantee that they’ll always pay off.
Turning our fear of failure into an expectation of failure will help ease the blow when it inevitably happens.
If you do fail, don’t get discouraged. Congratulate yourself and your team for trying and learning. Failure is a great teacher.
And, when you do find yourself paralyzed by fear, remember the 5 tips above and get back to launching your dream business with confidence.
Did this article help you build confidence? Let us know in the comments, below. We’d love to hear from you!