Would you be surprised to learn that a survey conducted by Wakefield Research, found that one-third of Americans are more afraid to start their own business than to jump out of a plane! The thought of starting a business can be daunting—especially if you are transitioning from a job where you have enjoyed a steady paycheck. However, fear can also be great fuel when it comes to striking out on your own. The key is to manage it because once you do, you will feel empowered and committed to your new dream. Focusing on three key areas will help you turn fear from foe to friend.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
In the corporate world, employees are rewarded for drawing inside the lines, getting along with co-workers and basically not “rocking the boat.” If you’ve been in the same job with the same company for a while, chances are that you’re feeling very comfortable. You are probably seen as an expert and can fulfill your job requirements with your eyes closed. On the other hand, when you are your own boss, life can be unpredictable. To be a successful business owner, you will need to embrace discomfort. It will be critical for you to realize that it’s impossible to be the expert at everything. As an entrepreneur, it is essential to find people who are smarter than you are to supplement those areas in which you may be weak. Be prepared to get comfortable with taking risks, trying new things, and sometimes going against the grain in order to trust your instincts.
Shift your mindset
Most people think of fear as a negative emotion. It is actually a very natural response that is a good thing because it indicates that you are pushing yourself and dreaming big. Fear always appears when you are about to embark on something great. When people think of starting a business the most natural fear is fear of failure. Instead of thinking about how you might fail, the key question to ask yourself is, “what am I giving up by not trying?” Look at billionaire Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. When Blakely was growing up, her father would ask her the same question every night at the dinner table, “What have you failed at this week?” Blakely says,
My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail. The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”
By shifting your mindset and reframing your definition of failure, you can accomplish remarkable things.
A research study analyzing the fear of failure in entrepreneurship found that one way entrepreneurs overcome feelings of fear is through knowledge and information seeking. This process includes doing research and networking with mentors and experts. Learning can be a powerful antidote to fear of failure. In fact, the most successful leaders and entrepreneurs embrace lifelong learning. Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year and has taken a yearly two-week reading vacation throughout his entire career. Warren Buffett has also invested the majority of his time in lifelong learning. As Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s longtime investing partner) said of Buffett,
The other big secret [to our success] is that we’re good at lifelong learning. Warren is better in his 70s and 80s, in many ways, than he was when he was younger. If you keep learning all the time, you have a wonderful advantage.”
The average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media every day, which translates to a total of five years and four months spent over a lifetime! Imagine allocating part of that time to learn valuable skills that will make you a better business owner. Because entrepreneurs must get involved in every aspect of their business, lifelong learning is essential for long-term success.
By using these techniques, it is possible to turn fear from your enemy into your greatest ally. The secret is to feed your dreams, starve your fears and most of all, believe in yourself.