Those of you who have been following my blog for a while probably know that I am a sucker for themed posts. And what's the next big holiday knocking on the door? Halloween, of course! But wait a minute, what does Halloween have to do with business? Well, nothing at a glance. If you think about it, though, in its core the celebration of Halloween is about conquering the fear of the unknown. And as business owners we have to do that not just on a particular day of the year, but almost every morning. Quite often, even before the coffee.
So, to stay relevant with time, I've chosen to talk about some of the most common fears every entrepreneur has at some point of their business journey. But of course, you aren't interested in a simple list of concerns. You probably want to know how to cope with these fears, especially if they are troubling your mind right now. Good thing you landed here, cause I've got you.
#1. I'm Going to Fail
This must be the one fear all of us have had, even if it was just a thought that crossed our mind for a moment. Having the fear of failure isn't all bad. It means you realise running a business is not a childish game and it takes a lot to become successful. The trick here is to not allow this fear to settle within you permanently. Don't let it crush your confidence. Easy said, but how can it be done?
- Do your market research - Don't throw yourself into the deep water without dipping your toes first. If you are starting a business, test your idea by doing proper market research. Find out if people Like it, Want it and Need it. Your product or service has to pass all three for you to start offering it. When you have been in business for a while, don't stop studying your target market. Its preferences and needs will change with time. If you stay behind, your business will suffer.
- Start with low expectations - Although it's great to believe in yourself and your idea, be realistic about your goals. Having lower expectations will help you tackle the fear of failure because your target won't be buying a private jet during your first year of trading, for example.
- Get a mentor - Find someone or some people who have walked that path before and can tell you what exactly to expect, what you should prepare for and how to do things the right way. You don't necessarily need to pay for this service. Just join business groups or go to networking events where you can learn new things and get some ideas.
#2. I'm not going to cope with too many orders/projects coming my way
Just like the fear of failure, its extreme opposite, the fear of success, is strikingly common. You've done your research, you had great response, you are confident in your skills, knowledge and talent. But what if you get snowed over with enquiries and orders you can't complete?
- Create a business plan - The best way to avoid failure due to lack of preparation or resources is by having a business plan. Again, you don't have to pay someone to do it for you. Actually, you should try and do it yourself if you are only going to use it internally. It will keep you in check and point you to the right direction when you get stuck.
- Put processes in place - Business processes are important and help you run your venture smoothly. In your business plan, have different scenarios with possible problems and solutions, featuring specific processes that you can implement.
- Cross the bridge when you get there - In other words, don't worry too much about possibilities. You may be right about your prediction, but if you prepare yourself in advance you will be fine. Sometimes, things happen not exactly as we expected, so you don't want to end up disappointed.
#3. What if employ staff and my sales drop
Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks. If you are doing well, you will get to a point where you need to hire people to cope with all business tasks. It's a major milestone and it is natural to cause some anxiety. As an employer, you will be responsible for other people's daily bread and you need to make sure you won't be putting them in financial distress. What if your sales drop and you can't afford the salaries?
- Think about the time and the business environment - If you know that a quiet period is coming up, it's probably best to hold off hiring staff. If you need extra helping hands just outsource for the time being or look for a temp.
- Offer free exclusive training and equity shares instead of a salary - Not everyone will agree to such a deal, but it may be of a particular interest to university students or recent graduates. Equity shares may be a very tempting offer for an expert who sees a bright future for your company.
- Apply for a business loan - Financial hardship is not something rare in the life of a rising entrepreneur. Before they got to the top of their empires, some of the most famous business people in the world turned to creditors for help and even bankrupted. May that not be your case, but there's nothing wrong with taking a business loan to cover current expenses if you have a clear ideas and an action plan how you will make than money and return it.
#4. What if my employees backstab me or someone steals my idea
- Prepare your mind - This scenario is almost bound to happen. Disloyal employees and unfair competition are everywhere. If you prepare your mind that this can become your reality, you are already one step closer to overcoming that fear. Don't concentrate on that thought, though. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone is out there to get you!
- Improve your idea and USP - They can copy you as much as they want, but you've heard the cliche "a copy can never be better than the original". That cliche is 100% true if the original doesn't fall behind. Nobody knows your idea like you do. Build on it and make it even better than before. Your mind is your strongest weapon they would never have access to, unless you let them.
- Strategise in advance - Every entrepreneur's main job is to strategise. Think about the future of your business and products well in advance. Even if your employees or competitors strike against you now, you can rise above them in the future. On that thought, if you haven't watched Empire, do it. There you find a perfect example of how the creator of a multi-billion enterprise can build up another masterpiece from the ground even after his first creation was stolen ruthlessly from him.
#5. I may lose my passion and get bored
Sometimes our fears about entrepreneurship have nothing to do with success or lack of it. Sometimes it's about us, our personality and how we feel about what we do. Is it possible to keep doing something for years and not lose the passion for it? Will you fall out of love with a hobby if you turned it to your main stream of income?
- How do you feel about your idea? - It's hard to stop loving something that brings you joy. And how do you know if it brings you joy? Well, it's simple. Would you be doing what you are doing every day if it wasn't bringing you money? If the answer is yes, you have the passion for it. Earning money with that is just an added bonus.
- Interact with other business owners - your environment is crucial for your inspiration. The more creative and passionate business people you surround yourself with, the more ideas and motivation you will continue to get.
- Imagine the alternative - what would you do if you weren't involved in your business? Go to work 9-5? Have 25 days holiday in a year? Pay large amounts of taxes only to be able to afford a normal lifestyle? Would you be happy with a mediocre life where you don't enjoy your work week, you don't have enough time to spend with family and not even enough money to be spontaneous? If you would choose freedom over security, being an entrepreneur will always be your path. (Don't forget you still need to put a lot of work to make it happen, though!).
Keep being the amazing business minds that you are and fear not!