7 Deadly Fears Entrepreneurs Must Overcome to be Successful
How to recognize and conquer your fears, keep motivated, and stay focused on the future.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Starting from scratch can be both exciting and frightening for entrepreneurs.
This is true whether you're a first-time entrepreneur or you've recently quit your job to start up a new company.
Right now your future has no limits. You might be building the next billion-dollar company right now! Crazy, right?
But even though what is happening now and what comes next is incredibly exciting, every entrepreneur still has fears. It would be weird if you weren't at least a little afraid!
You must overcome your fears if you're going to be successful. There's a lot of upside if you can power through those.
Here are seven huge fears you'll have to overcome as an entrepreneur.
1. Fear of Change
Change is the first fear you will encounter. It will visit you and start hanging out with you long before you go all in on your new venture.
Why? Because screwing up a good thing is downright scary.
Is the grass actually greener on the other side? Or should you appreciate the green grass that's under your feet right now?
It's human nature to think that no matter how great your current situation is that it could always be better.
But really, are you stealing defeat from the jaws of victory by leaving a known quantity to start something new?
Until you take the leap and make a change, you will worry.
You can't know whether it will be an equally good or better outcome. Unfortunately, we can't A/B test our lives.
All entrepreneurs have to overcome this fear and make a crucial decision. Stay where you are or make a change.
2. Fear of Failure
Another fear you must overcome is the fear of failure.
Your company won't work--not enough customers, not enough funding, whatever the reason. You won't be able to pay your bills. Sure, but that's only part of it.
The real killer is the public aspect.
When you start a company, you're really sticking your neck out. You don't want people to think of you as a failure.
Fear is just your pride.
You can't worry about what other people sitting on the sidelines will think if you fail.
For crazy psychological or emotional reasons, some of your family members, friends, and peers won't truly support you because they don't understand what you're doing. Consciously or unconsciously, some people will cheer for you to fail.
Really, in the end, who the hell cares what they think?
3. Fear of Not Getting Funded
You're ridiculously passionate about your business idea. But will potential investors think it's good?
Raising money for your new business ideas is competitive and scary. The process of pitching VCs and angel investors is anything but predictable.
"What if you never get funding?" a voice asks.
Meet another one of your fears.
When I was first starting out, I pitched more than 100 VC firms in Boston. I was shot down. The rejection letters were brutal--but I learned several important lessons from them.
Listen to the feedback you get from investors! Make the changes to improve your idea.
Doing so will help you win the funding you need--and overcome your fears.
4. Fear of Being Uncomfortable
Some people are afraid of feeling uncomfortable.
Call me crazy, but I love this feeling.
I thrive in an uncomfortable environment.
In my experience, necessity is the mother of invention. It's very difficult to solve a big challenge unless you're put in a situation where you have to hustle and quickly figure it out.
Don't fear being uncomfortable. Embrace it.
Think of it like high altitude training. Your body will start to acclimate and compensate for the decrease in oxygen--and even start to thrive even more.
Trust that being uncomfortable will be the spark you need to figure out a solution or come up with a new business idea. And your idea will be that much greater.
5. Fear of the Unknown
When you're starting out, you truly don't know what you don't know.
I've learned so much over the past 10 years--things I would never have known unless I experienced them. These are lessons that will help me the rest of my life.
The unknown is not to be feared. It is only something you've yet to experience.
You can make lots of great business connections.
You can create something great (no matter how long it lasts).
You will make mistakes and learn from them.
There will be good times and bad-- challenges and triumphs.
Stop fearing the future.
Start writing the future.
6. Fear of Letting Others Down
Being afraid of letting other people down can be a great motivator.
You never want to let your customers down. Once people trust you enough to buy your product or service, you want to keep those customers for as long as you can. That means providing a great product or service that lives up to their expectations.
Another group of people you don't want to let down: your employees. Working for a startup takes a leap of faith on their part. They're counting on that paycheck from you to earn a good living.
Your investors are another group you don't want to let down. Anyone who invests millions of dollars into your venture deserves to make that money back.
Fear can either cripple you or motivate you if you make it all about you.
Or, you can use that fear to focus you, keep you going, and drive you to deliver on all those promises you made.
7. 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.
When this happens, startups pivot. But startup pivots almost never work.
In the beginning, my company targeted the wrong market. The company almost died. Twice!
We pivoted. Luckily, my company survived, grew, and became successful, taking in $22.8 million in revenue in 2015.
In the startup world, a lot can go wrong. That's why it's important to be intentional with your strategy when you're starting out.
Try to be smarter about the initial guess you make about your market. You'll have a lot more leverage if you don't have to redo your business plan or make huge course corrections.
Don't fight your fears. Recognize them. Overcome them.
Fear isn't all bad. You just need to recognize fear, punch it on the nose on occasion, and continue building your business!