Which do you prefer: the safety net of your 9-5 or the uncertainty of starting your own business? It’s a tough decision for most people. Leaving your steady paycheck behind in favor of a riskier entrepreneurial path requires a lot of courage.
Ideas fail, markets change, and the competition is fierce. Not to mention how lonely self-employment can be and the added worry of meeting your financial obligations. So it’s no surprise that fear of failure is one of the most accurate predictors of who will remain stuck in a job they hate, rather than leaping into entrepreneurship.
After all, the statistics show that approximately 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year of operation. A 30 percent failure rate is expected by the end of the second year. In the fifth year, about half of the businesses will fail.
But fortune, they say, favors the brave, so don’t let fear stop you from pursuing your dreams.
And to help those who are considering the riskier path to success, this article will discuss 7 fears entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them.
The benefits of being an entrepreneur
Not many things in life are better than the prospect of being your own boss. You set your hours and decide what you do with your time. There is no one to answer to and no micromanagement. You are in charge of your destiny.
One of the main benefits of becoming an entrepreneur is using your talents to create value and provide solutions. As an entrepreneur, you have the power to inspire others, create something bigger than yourself, and make a difference in the world.
Being a business owner also affords you flexibility. You can choose to work mornings or evenings or split the day up however you see fit. You get to decide when to take vacations and which holidays you celebrate.
And finally, if you hold on and survive the tricky periods, taking the entrepreneurial route can see you exponentially increase your income over time. For instance, Larry Page and Sergey Brin towed the entrepreneurial line when they launched Google in 1998. Today, they are billionaires.
7 fears you must overcome when starting a new business
1. The fear of failure
The fear of failure is rooted in uncertainty. People struggle with the unknown and become more comfortable with what they know. Will this new career I enjoy so much last? Will, my customers like me? Will I make enough money? What if my business fails?
When you decide to take the plunge and start your own business, you must believe you can succeed by sticking to your principles and values. It is also important to genuinely like what you do because this leads to greater success and happiness.
To overcome this fear, the first thing you must do is prepare. Before starting a business, do your due diligence and evaluate your market; research your competitors and determine your weaknesses. Then devise an action plan to combat those weaknesses as they arise. It is also important to trust yourself.
Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can or you can’t— you are right.”
Another way to overcome fear is by joining a local networking group (online or offline). Listen to what others have to say and consider their feedback.
Finally, don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Every failure is a learning experience that will help you to overcome future obstacles and strengthen your resolve.
2. Lack of funding
A good idea without the resources (money and time) to implement is a recipe for failure. Many people are skeptical about taking the entrepreneurial route because they worry that they don’t have the cash on hand to start their own businesses.
But there are ways to negotiate in the case of startup capital. Many entrepreneurs start by bootstrapping, the financial or business practice of starting with little cash and then growing the company over time through reinvesting profits.
You can also opt to take on a partner, invest your own money, use a crowdfunding platform to raise capital, or from an angel investor. You will have to get creative when funding your business, but getting your business off the ground without a lot of money is possible.
3. No technical skills
Thanks to the Internet and endless amounts of information at your fingertips, it has never been easier to learn a skill (whether it’s marketing, web design, writing, accounting, or programming). With YouTube videos guiding you every step of the way, you can learn a skill in as little as a few hours.
There are also accessible online courses that you can partake in to further your knowledge in a specific skill and informative blogs like Alibaba.com Reads, where you can get a lot of insights for starting and running a business.
Moreover, doing business is not a one-person game. As an entrepreneur, your responsibility is not to do everything by yourself. Instead, you should lead a group of people with different skills and fully use their talents in the business.
By delegating tasks to others when necessary, you will save money and free up your time to focus on other aspects of the business that you excel at.
4. Dreading the competition
Here’s the thing that’s for sure: you are not the only one with a great idea. There are over 7 billion people worldwide, so odds are, someone has had a similar concept to yours.
It doesn’t matter if it’s another business, book, song, or blog: people are doing or are likely to do the same thing as you. And that’s ok.
Know your customers. True entrepreneurs love what they do and are passionate about their craft and product. Their energy is evident in their attitude and the level of service they provide to customers. This passion wins more customers than anything else.
To stay on top of your competitors, you must remain attentive to what they’re up to and stay relevant by constantly improving your product offering.
One proven approach to achieving this is adopting SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) Analysis. This exercise will help you determine your business’s strengths and identify areas for improvement that can help you get ahead of the competition.
Another thing you can do to beat the competition is to reinvent yourself and aim to reach target new markets. For example, Slack started as Glitch, a computer game made by Tiny Speck. In 2012, the game was shut down due to a lack of interest. However, the game’s most popular feature with players and team members was its colorful, interactive chat functionality.
As a result, the creators came up with Slack, which allowed them to reimagine and transform their previous product into one of the fastest-growing startups in the world.
The company experienced rapid growth, and it went public in 2019. Today, the company serves over 12 million daily active users and more than 119,000 paying customers.
Don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy as needed to overcome your competition.
5. Not being able to handle the responsibility
This fear is a huge one for entrepreneurs. If you’re afraid of being responsible for the success or failure of your business, especially in the beginning, you should probably not start one.
No one will care as much about your business as you do—they won’t put as much into it or spend as much time thinking about its success as you do, so you need to be 100% committed to turning your idea into a reality.
Also, be prepared because there will be times when you’re working while the others are playing. You may miss out on important family events and starve for attention while working nonstop to make your business successful.
However, if you’re up to the challenge and firmly believe that your idea could be successful, there’s no better time than now to implement the plan you’ve spent months crafting and take charge of your destiny.
6. The fear of the unknown
Sometimes, people fear the unknown because they lack confidence in themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself, there’s a good chance others won’t either. Business success requires a leap of faith, so believe in yourself. Others will treat you differently if you believe in yourself and your business.
In addition, build relationships and valuable support systems. Surround yourself with people who share your values and whom you can trust. Look for people who understand your situation and want to support you.
Support systems — family, friends, networkers, or virtual acquaintances — can encourage you to continue on your path and celebrate your successes, no matter how big or small.
7. The fear of success
A successful business can take on a life of its own, and you may be concerned that your idea will turn into something bigger than you can handle. It’s important to tread carefully and stay true to your original goals and vision.
You must deliver on your promises and live up to your service standards. If you set standards initially, make sure you meet your customers’ expectations.
The bottom line
Becoming a successful business owner is not a walk in the park. Many things can go wrong, and that is why many have fears.
Lack of funds, not having the necessary skills, insane levels of competition in your field, and fear of failure are all common fears. But being a successful entrepreneur requires embracing these fears and overcoming them with the help of proper planning and hard work.
Figure out which fears are holding you back and turn your weaknesses into your greatest strengths.