Four Fears Southeast Asian Founders Need to Overcome to be Successful

Recognize, embrace, and let go

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BY Marishka M. Cabrera - 23 Mar 2017

fears to overcome for entrepreneurs

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

As far as first impressions go, most start-up founders seem confident and fearless. After all, only the brave dare to disrupt industries, take on huge risks, and venture into the unknown. But no matter how hard they try to shake it off, fear still lurks within.

Here are four common fears Southeast Asian entrepreneurs need to overcome to be successful:


1. Fear of change

Most start-ups were built with hopes of changing the world through technology. In a founder’s personal life, however, this may mean overhauling one’s routines, practices, and sometimes even relationships. And this can be scary.

“All entrepreneurs have to overcome this fear and make a crucial decision. Stay where you are or make a change,” writes Larry Kim in his Inc. article.

Doubt or anxiety about the future is natural, but the right mindset makes all the difference. “I now welcome [anxiety], as it means I am excited and my senses are heightened to put my best foot forward and give the best effort into whatever I do—whatever is thrown my way,” says Shannon Kalayanamitr, co-founder and chief marketing officer of female-focused e-commerce site Orami, in an Inc. Southeast Asia story.


2. Fear of failure

In most Asian cultures, failure is not as celebrated as in other places like Israel, describes this Inc. Southeast Asia story. Tackling a relevant problem entails risk, and if entrepreneurs play it safe, they are never going to make a major breakthrough.

Don’t let it hold you back; let it hone your resilience instead. “In my life, I have always been the underdog,” Kalayanamitr says. Now she is behind what is probably the biggest online shopping site for women in Southeast Asia.


3. Fear of being found out

And then there is the “impostor syndrome,” or when high-achieving individuals fail to internalize their achievements and are, thus, afraid of being found out. But as this Inc. Southeast Asia story suggests, entrepreneurs can fake it ‘til they make it.

“I would say [the concept is] definitely widely-adopted in the entrepreneurs’ community,” Shahab Shabibi, co-founder of Machine Ventures, says in the article.

For Jared Polites, a PR and marketing consultant for start-ups, “faking it” can act as a motivator to learn and get the job done. “We all start somewhere and need to improvise to get going—this process is critical to human development and learning, and should be encouraged rather than shunned,” he says.


4. Fear of being wrong

“When you launch your business, there are three areas that can just kill you: being wrong about your product, target audience, or go-to-market strategy,” Kim writes.

In the beginning, Kim shares his company targeted the wrong market. But then they pivoted, survived, and grew—taking in $22.8 million in revenue in 2015. “In the start-up world, a lot can go wrong. That’s why it’s important to be intentional with your strategy when you’re starting out,” he relates.