Owning a small business is filled with things to be afraid of at every stage of the game, no matter if you started business yesterday or 20 years ago. Big fears are real, and they can be hard to deal with, but a big part of being an entrepreneur is finding a way to master them.
We asked real small business owners what their biggest fears are and how they’ve overcome them. Here’s some inspiration:
Fear #1: The Instability of Working For Yourself
When you have your own business, there are bound to be a few ups and downs. And you probably knew this going in. But when you’re just getting started, a slow week can be really terrifying.
Michelle Schroeder of MakingSenseofCents.com noted, “Having one or two weeks where nothing seems to come in can be frightening when you work for yourself.”
Business ebbs and flows are nothing but natural for any company. Michelle says reminding herself of that helps her to get past the fear. She’s also built up an emergency fund, so she doesn’t have to panic when a few slow months come along.
Fear #2: Can Your Passion Actually Make You Money?
When pursuing your passion as a new business, there are a lot of doubts that can creep up along the way. If, like most people, you’re leaving a comfortable, steady job behind, you wanna know that your business idea is actually viable.
Sarah Faulkner of Faulkner Strategic Consulting told us, “[I] regularly still have moments when I wonder if this can really work, if I can really make a living doing this.”
With so much on the line, it’s normal to wonder if your business can really be successful. Sarah says she reminds herself of her business plan, skills and experience, and personal network to help her overcome her fear.
Fear #3: The Unknown Unknowns
If you’re like most small business owners, you’re new to running a company. You have no idea what to expect on a week-to-week basis. There are plenty of potential problems that you can think of, but there are even more that you can’t.
Max Galka of Revaluate mentioned, “With an early stage business, things change so quickly, and we are constantly faced with challenges we had never anticipated. The possibility of a critical problem arising out of no where is what keeps me up at night.”
Having a mentor is a huge way to help overcome your fear of the unknown. He or she can shed insight on what you can expect, what you should worry about, and what you shouldn’t. You can find a mentor in your own personal network or use tools like SCORE and Clarity.fm.
Fear #4: A Crisis of Cash Flow
Whether you’re in a seasonal business or not, a crisis of cash flow is probably pretty terrifying to you. Since most of us aren’t born accountants, handling cash flow can be totally foreign at first. And there’s not much scarier than simply running out of money.
Lori Osterberg of Vision of Success told us that with her first business, a wedding photography company (seasonal), cash flow issues were a big fear for her.
The good news about cash flow is that it’s pretty easy to manage if you just remember to work with a budget and plan ahead. Lori shared, “As long as we were conscious of the potential, and worked at putting money away for the down times, we could control cash flow issues.”
There are plenty of tools available that can help you if accounting isn’t second nature to you. Apps like FreeAgent, Pulse, and inDinero are super affordable and easy to use.
Fear #5: Cold, Hard Failure
So here’s the big one. It’s safe to say that just about every entrepreneur has been terrified of failure at one time or another. When you’re pouring all of your money, time, and energy into your business, it’s only natural to be afraid of it failing.
Madhavi Jagdish of SimpleBra said, “When you have a week of slow sales or when your audience doesn't engage with your brand on social media or unsubscribes from your marketing emails, you start to doubt yourself.”
Madhavi says she overcomes her fear by throwing herself back into her business, working tirelessly to ensure that failure never becomes a reality. She also takes the little failures in stride. A missed sale becomes a learning opportunity, and negative feedback becomes a chance to improve.
Conquer Those Fears
Fear and risk are just a cost of doing business for entrepreneurs and small business owners. While it’s okay to be afraid of some things, it’s important to manage your fears, so you can concentrate on running your business.
You can take a page out of these entrepreneurs’ books and find a way to overcome even your biggest fears!
What are your biggest fears? Tell us how you get past them!