What’s one thing that’s scarier than skydiving?
The answer may surprise you. It certainly did me.
According to a recent survey, about a third of Americans find the idea of starting their a business scarier than skydiving! Yikes.
And, unfortunately, this fear may hold them back. The same study found that while 57% of Americans have had at least one new business idea, only two in five took steps to make that happen. The sad part is, fear is something you can overcome. It is possible to create a business doing work you love and earn a good living. I overcame this fear, and you can too!
So what makes starting a business so scary? And how can you overcome that fear and make your dream a reality?
I’ve also experienced that fear. The kind that leaves you curled up in a ball. The I-don’t-want-to-leave-the-safety-of-my-bed kind of fear.
This was especially true when I was a corporate executive. Even though I was completely miserable, having health issues, and dreading work every single day, I was still afraid to leave the security of my job. It wasn’t just the potential loss of income (although that was a major factor). I was also afraid of failing, looking stupid, and disappointing the people I care about.
I dreamed about having a profitable business that would allow me to do meaningful work, to be able to work from home and control my own schedule. While deep down I believed it was possible, I still delayed getting started. I was too scared.
But finally, I did it. I took the first step.
Looking back now, I wonder why it took me so long. But I am also grateful. Grateful that I listened to that faint voice inside that told me I was meant to do more, that I deserved better, and that I could be happy.
Now I have the honor of working with successful women every day who’ve heard that same quiet voice. They feel the fear, but they take action anyway.
Through it all, I’ve found three big things that will help you overcome the fear of starting your business:
1. Get Clear on Your Big Why
Figure out the real reason you want to start your business. Your “Why.” This is by far the most important thing you can do. When you have a compelling reason to start a business, your vision will pull you forward toward your dream. Your big Why is more than just wanting to quit your job or hoping to earn more money.
Pro Tip: Try the “7 Levels of Why” Exercise: I often use this exercise with my clients to help them find their “Why.” It can take some introspection, and it’s more difficult than it looks. But it’s well worth the effort.
- To get started, ask yourself, why do I want to start a business? Write down your answer.
- Take your last answer and ask yourself, Why do I want to [write down your last answer]?
- Repeat 7 times. By the end, you’ll get to your root cause, your real reason. Your Why.
- If you said I want to start a business so I can make more money, you would ask, why do I want to make more money?
- I want to earn more money so we can have more freedom. Why do I want more freedom?
- I want more freedom so I can spend more time with my family. Why do I want to spend more time with my family?
- I want to spend more time with my family so I can be there with my daughter while she grows up. Why do you want to be there for your daughter?
- I want to be there for my daughter because I want her to feel supported. Why do you want your daughter to feel supported?
- I want my daughter to feel supported so we can have a close relationship. Why do you want a close relationship with your daughter?
- I want a close relationship with my daughter because I didn’t have that growing up and it was difficult. I want her life to be easier than I had it.
This is just an example to show the steps. It can get really challenging once you get past the second or third time asking why, but keep going. The saying is, “it’s not your Why, unless it makes you cry.” In other words, once you truly connect with why starting a business is so important to you, you will feel the emotion.
A strong connection with your Why not only helps you overcome fear, but it also keeps you moving forward when things don’t go right. Connect with your Why.
2. Take the First Step
While this one seems obvious, it’s amazing how powerful just one small step can be. Whether it’s brainstorming a to-do list, coming up with a business name, or pricing out websites, action quiets the fear and gives you more confidence.
One of my mentors pointed out to me once: Waiting for the confidence to act has things backward, because seeing yourself take action is what then gives you confidence. Use your courage to act before you have the confidence. That’s how you’ll become a confident business owner.
I often hear from my clients that they felt like they were waiting for permission to get started on their business. The truth is, you don’t need permission to start your business, or follow any dream for that matter. Just take the first step.
3. Create a Plan
Creating a plan for your business is also a good way to overcome fear. If you have concerns about things that could go wrong, write them all down. Then, take each one and come up with three strategies you could use to overcome that concern. Instead of allowing your fears and concerns to hold you back, you can use them as fuel to create a well thought-out, strategic business plan. Need a business plan template? Grab a copy of mine for free!
And of course, getting help from a trusted business coach or mentor is well worth it. A good advisor will save you countless hours of you trying to figure things out on your own, avoid costly mistakes, and can help you do it right the first time. Interested in learning more? Take advantage of my free 30-Minute Business Breakthrough Session. We’ll focus entirely on you and your business, and if at the end it looks like it would be helpful for us to work together, then I’ll share more about my programs. Otherwise, I’ll share my favorite resources, point you in the direction, and bless on your journey.
Now It’s Your Turn
What are your fears about starting a business? Or, if you’ve already started one, how did you overcome fear? As always, I love hearing from you, so please leave your comments below.