The day I got married was the scariest day of my life. I walked up to the altar shaking like a leaf. At 31, I would have thought that I was too old to be afraid of getting married, but I was scared.
Each month I talk to a business owner who expresses their fears to me. There is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of fear at the right time. Here are some of the fears that many business owners face on a regular basis.
Fear of Failure
Failing in our business after putting in so much time, energy, and money can make us lose face. We have probably been putting on a brave face, all while knowing that things are not always going well. We are afraid of failing our families who have believed in us and not being able to “bring home the bread.” We might be afraid to fail because we will disappoint our employees and even our customers. I even worked with a business owner who was afraid to fail because she would let down the previous owner who sold her the business for too high of a price!
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Fear of Losing Control
Business owners do not want to lose control and, as a result, end up micromanaging their businesses. “No one can do it as well as I can” is often heard in the small business environment. However, it is precisely this fear of losing control that holds business owners back. Only once you overcome this fear and start delegating tasks can you move your business forward. Successful owners hire people who are better than them and let them do the job they were hired for.
Fear of Not Knowing What to Do Next
We own a business and think we should know everything; however, this is impossible. Often business owners are great at the technical aspects of the business and end up faking the other stuff. Don’t be afraid of getting help in areas where you don’t have the expertise. To know what to do next, we often need to slow down and not rush our decisions. At the same time, we must refuse to be conquered by inaction. Feeling overwhelmed is often the symptom of not having plans in place and following those plans.
Fear of Success
Some business owners I know don’t believe they can be successful and actually fear success. This fear sometimes relates to upbringing and being discouraged or doubted by others. Sometimes owners do not recognize their success, so are doubtful of taking the business to the next level. You can overcome this fear by celebrating your successes; by recognizing what you have achieved by having achievable goals, you can overcome this fear.
Fear of Being Thought of as Crazy
You are stepping out on a limb by taking on a business venture. Some people will think you are crazy for taking on such incredible risks. Pay no heed to these naysayers unless they have experience in what you are doing. If they do, listen closely to their advice. Avoid those with little to offer other than their attempt to bring down leaders like yourself who have a vision!
Fear of Thinking Big!
Fear of thinking big can be related to some of the other fears above, which, in turn, can be related to our upbringing or our life’s history. Thinking big can be scary, but it is necessary for small business owners. You will be stuck forever with small profits and a struggling business unless you can think out of the box and aren’t afraid of trying new things.
Lack of Business Knowledge
As a business coach, I regularly work with business owners who have not reached their full potential because of self-limiting factors. Sometimes it is simply the lack of knowledge on how to grow their businesses, increase sales or, more importantly, make their business profitable. Business owners often do not have sales systems, good marketing practices, or financial systems in place that enable them to succeed. It is hard to measure what you don’t understand.
If this is holding your business back, take some courses or get someone to help you with this area of your business so that you can become more successful. The fact that you are reading this right now proves that you are committed to increasing your knowledge of business which will lead to your success.
To truly be successful, business owners need to determine what is causing their fear and determine whether that fear is holding them back or pushing them forward. By understanding and working on the drivers and the psychological barriers holding us back, we can achieve things thought impossible by others.
I am glad I got married and really had nothing to fear.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc.
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