Entrepreneurship is treacherous ground. There are great risks you’ll face, from the inception of your company through the growth stage, and even as you stabilize and gain momentum. If you’re going to be successful as a business owner, you need to be prepared for those risks, and address your fears proactively.
While each entrepreneur and each business is unique, there are five common fears that almost every entrepreneur will need to face before starting a business:
1. Running out of money. Capital is one of the biggest concerns most entrepreneurs have, and with good reason. Starting a business requires a lot of money, which usually comes directly from the entrepreneur’s savings, or the pockets of independent investors. If you can’t secure a reliable revenue stream by the time that initial startup capital runs out, the business — and all that money — is in jeopardy of being lost for good. Disappointing investors is one thing, but losing your life’s savings is another.
If personal investment loss is what’s keeping you from moving forward, consider other means of fundraising. Use crowdfunding to collect small amounts from thousands of people, or seek business grants from the government to help get you started. Most of all, you need to have faith in your business model — if you don’t, then you shouldn’t go into business.
2. Not being good enough. Whether you’re worried that you aren’t good enough as an entrepreneur or that your product isn’t good enough to be competitive, the fear of not being good enough can be debilitating for new entrepreneurs.
Remember a simple concept that applies to all businesses: launching with a minimum viable product. Your product doesn’t have to be perfect when it first launches, and it doesn’t have to be the best. It just has to be acceptable. From there, you’ll have plenty of room to make improvements to it over time. No product ever starts out perfect — some of the greatest businesses in the world probably started with a product of a similar quality to yours.
As an entrepreneur, you too can be a minimum viable product. You don’t have to make all the right decisions, and you don’t need to be a perfect leader. You just have to be passable until you have the time and experience to improve yourself.
3. Failing. The fear of failure gets the better of all of us occasionally. There are small failures — like a botched email marketing campaign or a major bug you discover post-launch, and massive failures — like your company going under.
Failure will set you back no matter what, but you can’t let the fear of failure stop you from making a decision. Failure is only the end of the road if you let it be. Otherwise, it’s just a temporary stopping point in a long path to a final destination. More importantly, failures are learning opportunities; every failure you experience yields a lesson you can incorporate into your business or into your life.
4. Being overwhelmed. The entrepreneurial life isn’t chosen because it’s easy. It’s chosen because it’s a challenge with many rewards along the way. If you’re getting into entrepreneurship because it seems like an easy way to get rich quick, someone has lied to you. Entrepreneurship is riddled with obstacles, stress, and hard work.
But the flip side of entrepreneurship is control. Yes, you will inevitably feel overwhelmed at times, but it’s all completely within your power to change. If you’re dealing with too many financial problems, you can hire a financial advisor. If you aren’t getting the results you want out of your developer, you can let him/her go and seek new help.
You will experience a greater workload than you’ve ever faced before, but remember that you’ll be in full control of your own destiny.
5. The unknown. The unknown is indescribable, and impossible to prepare for. When you first get started, with a business plan, a bit of money, and maybe a partner or a mentor by your side, you’ll have no idea what to expect in your first year. For many, it’s a thrilling thought, but it’s also terrifying.
Entrepreneurship isn’t a job. It becomes a lifestyle. You’re choosing to be in this role because you’re a risk-taker, you’re passionate, you work hard, and you believe in your idea. Those four qualities are more than enough to conquer any obstacle that gets in your way — even the unknown ones. So put those fears to rest, and believe in yourself.
Entrepreneurship isn’t for the fearless. It’s for the individuals who are prepared enough and strong enough to learn from their fears and work past them. Instead of avoiding your fears, embrace them, and use them as a motivation to learn more about your business, and prevent disaster.