The thought of starting a business is the unknown and can be daunting. In fact in this survey, Wakefield Research found that one-third of Americans are more afraid to start their own business than to jump out of a plane!
But 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.
Here are some tips that will help you to control your fear and use it to your advantage:
1. Set attainable goals
Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) goals can help you evaluate the goals you wish to set. Think about whether they are realistic. You should write down your goals in your business plan to help keep you on track to achieve them.
Here are a few things to consider when setting your goals:
- Specific: be clear about what you want to achieve
- Measurable: make sure the goal can be measured, and you can recognize if you’ve achieved your goal
- Achievable: check that your goal is something you have the time, money, and resources to meet
- Relevant: ensure your goal is relevant to the direction you want your business to head in
- Timely: set a realistic deadline for completing the goal
2. Surround yourself with your wolf pack
Being an entrepreneur can be stressful and you’re going to need a strong support system around you. Surround yourself with the people in your life that lift you up and fill you with energy. This includes friends and family but can also include others as well:
- A great coach: coaching is one of the best kept secrets to being a successful entrepreneur. A recent study conducted by Infusionsoft and Emergent Research, “Defining and Achieving Small Business Success,” discovered that small business owners are increasingly using paid coaches for overcoming challenges. A good coach will be able to provide you with an objective viewpoint and a results-oriented mindset that will hold you accountable to your goals. I personally have two coaches I’m actively working with, so I can attest to what an asset it is.
- Mentors: develop connections with mentors in the area that you want to focus on. For example, if you want to launch an online boutique, seek out connections on LinkedIn or in your social network that are already managing successful online businesses. If you don’t already have a mentor, you can find free mentors at organizations like SCORE and networking groups such as Meetup, Vistage, or the Young Entrepreneurs Council.
- Professionals in support industries: as a business owner, you should collect a capable team of pros around you. Talk to one or several people in the legal, finance and accounting fields. If you don’t already have your own accountant for example, you can also take advantage of services like Rocket Lawyer, LegalZoom or SmallBizAccountants.com.
3. Take the first step!
The most important way to manage fear is not to let it prevent you from moving forward. TAKE A STEP! Whether it’s doing research on the industry you want to enter, talking to a mentor or going to your local SBA branch to learn about the ins and outs of setting up an LLC, start taking action.
- Even small steps are valuable: all your steps don’t have to be huge ones—what matters is that each one is getting you closer to your goal. The Kaizen method is a great example of this. Kaizen was originally a Japanese management concept for incremental change. It has since grown into a way of life philosophy that centers its approach on small, achievable steps. The steps build upon each other for an overall increase in effectiveness. So next time, instead of thinking of taking a big leap and feeling overwhelmed, think about how you can break it down into small manageable chunks. As the great philosopher Lao Tzu said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
- Don’t wait for the absence of fear before taking action: if you wait until you feel no fear to start acting, that day will never come. You need to seize the moment. Even well-known, highly successful people feel fear. For example, Maya Angelou admitted that even after writing eleven books, she still felt self-doubt and that people were going to find her out. The key is not letting fear get in the way of your ultimate goal.
- Know that action builds confidence: when you are in action, you don’t have time to worry or have self-doubt. You are focused on your end-goal and slowly start to realize that what you thought was difficult or insurmountable really isn’t, once you break it down.