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The 7 most common fears of starting a business and how to get past them

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Does starting a business terrify you?

You’re not the only one. Fear is one of the top reasons people never start their business. 

I’m writing this post because I don’t want fear to stop you from living the best life possible. It took me 24 years to get over my fear. I don’t want this to be you. 

My managers always had excellent feedback for me. However, as I got older I got less tolerant of being told what to do and how to perform my job. Especially, when I had ideas for improvements and better ways to do things. 

I became annoyed at things being done a certain way, just because they’d always been done that way. This is the worst strategy in business. If you’re not evolving you’re regressing. 

I didn’t lose my job because I wasn’t a good employee. I lost it because the project I was a part of was shut down and my role wasn’t needed anymore. I knew it was coming but it’s still difficult when your only source of income disappears. 

The more painful a situation gets, the more likely you are to change it. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Mindset is everything when it comes to starting a business. 

Getting over your fears before the pain becomes unbearable is ideal. Don’t wait until you’re struggling. Take action right now. A good place to start is by reading this post.  

I go over the most common fears of starting a business. Rejection, failure, and financial hardship are all fears entrepreneurs face. But, in the grand scheme of things they don’t matter. 

I tell you why and they don’t matter and how to get over them. Keep reading if you’re serious about starting a business but are letting your fears stop you. 

My only regret about starting a business is that I didn’t do it sooner. 

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Is it normal to doubt yourself when starting a business?

Every business owner has doubted themselves at one point. If they say they haven’t, they’re lying. I doubt myself daily and I’ve been doing this for 8 years. 

The key is to realize that the fears don’t matter. 

Nobody really knows what they are doing. They are successful because they do it despite not knowing. They are successful because they didn’t quit. 

Ultimately, they are just emotions. Emotions are guidelines to help us choose our next action. But that’s all they are, guidelines. 

They are not tangible. If we choose not to listen to them, they won’t harm us. 

As Mark Manson says, emotions are just feedback mechanisms. They take on the meaning we give them. 

"Emotions are not a choice. Behavior is."

What are the most common fears entrepreneurs face?

Many fears come up when starting a business. They can paralyze you if you let them. Focusing on the fear can be overwhelming and cause you to give up.

Here are 7 common fears budding entrepreneurs make and why you need to work through them.

Fear of Rejection

This is arguably the most common fear when starting a business. At least it was my biggest fear. I still deal with it regularly. 

Every time I write a proposal for a prospective client, there is a chance they will reject me. However, I choose to believe it wasn’t a good fit. I choose to believe that one rejection opened me up to something better. 

It really is about what you choose to believe. If I let this fear of rejection overcome me, I wouldn’t even have written the proposals. I wouldn’t have taken the calls. I wouldn’t have gone to the bank for the business loan. 

We all get rejected—even celebrities and billionaires.  The difference between someone who succeeds and someone who doesn’t is acknowledging the fear and doing it anyway. 

If you can believe it. Rejection can even be good for your brain

The difference between someone who succeeds and someone who doesn’t is acknowledging the fear and doing it anyway. 

Fear of Failure

This fear creeps up on me daily as well. It’s impossible to know what’s going to work unless you put it out in the world. 

Many people let this fear take over their lives and they never reach their full potential. I don’t believe in failure. It’s just another word for ‘quitting’. 

Mistakes are lessons. You either choose to learn from them or you quit. The fear is there to let you know there is a challenge coming your way. 

Use the fear to guide you in the right direction. If you’re afraid, it usually means it’s something that will be well worth the work you put in.

Mistakes are lessons.

Fear of Disappointment

If you don’t try something, you won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t work. But if you don’t try anything, you’ll live a very unfulfilled life. Avoiding disappointment makes for a boring and mediocre life. 

I have fallen into this trap in my personal life. If I stay single and don’t date, I will never be disappointed again. But this can get old. There comes a time when you need to take the risk of being disappointed. 

The same goes for starting a business. You can stay in your lame 9-5 so that you never feel the disappointment of a business that isn’t exactly what you pictured. But then you don’t have a chance in hell of reaching any of your dreams. 

Avoiding disappointment makes for a boring and mediocre life. 

Fear of Financial Hardship

This is a fear that may never come to pass. With the fears above, most of them are going to happen at one point or another. However, this one may not. 

You are probably asking yourself, ‘What if I don’t make any money and I go broke?’ when you should be asking yourself, ‘What if I don’t try this and I lose my job anyway?’

Most people believe that starting a business is riskier than staying in their 9-5. But what they don’t realize is that the 9-5 could go away at any time. If all your income came from that one job, it’s all gone. 

Now, being self-employed or owning a business gives you much more control over your destiny. If something isn’t working out, you pivot and try something else. 

There is also no cap on how much money you can make. The longer you do it, the less you have to work but the more money you can make. 

With a 9-5, once you reach a certain point, the salary increases stop (aside from maybe the odd cost of living increase). This isn’t to say you can’t become a millionaire with a 9-5. You just have to know how to live within your means and invest wisely. 

Did I make less money with my business than as an employee? Yes. 

Was it worth it? So far, yes. 

When you own a business, you are investing in yourself. I don’t think there is any better investment than that.

If all your income came from that one job, it’s all gone.

Fear that you don’t know what you’re doing

As mentioned earlier, nobody really knows what they are doing. There is no life manual that they are following. 

They are simply navigating through life by making decisions based on past experiences and emotions. If you can reframe how you react to your past and your emotions, the sky is the limit. 

Not to mention, the only way to begin to know what you are doing is to do it. People aren’t born knowing how to run a business. 

A good place to start is by working through the process of writing a business plan. This is an excellent exercise to help you get past your fears. It takes you through the process of building a business from the ground up. 

Writing a business plan will help you determine whether your idea is viable. If it’s not viable, it’s not the end of the world. Knowing it’s not viable before spending time and money building upon it is invaluable. 

Once you’ve determined your original idea isn’t going to fly, you create a new iteration. This is the pivotal moment where you can either choose to let your business be a failure or choose not to quit and keep working towards your dreams. 

RELATED POST: How to Write an Effective Business Plan: The Intro

Nobody really knows what they are doing.

Fear that your idea is bad

This ties directly into my last point. The only way to know whether your idea is bad is to start working on it. It will eventually flush itself out. Once you see where something isn’t going to work, you work to mend it.

Quote: ‘I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ – Thomas Edison

In my mind, it’s not a failure to discover a chink in the armour. It’s a learning opportunity. It’s the point at which your idea becomes stronger. The most valuable skill an entrepreneur can have is adaptability. 

If someone pours a concrete foundation for a building and there ends up being a small hole in it, they don’t redig and re-pour the entire foundation, they fix the hole. 

This is how true growth happens. Making your idea stronger each time you solve an issue within it. 

"I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Fear of more responsibility

This one is a doozy. It is certainly harder to get past. But when you realize that by not going through it, you’ll never reach your goals, it’s easier to ignore. 

I think this fear is what most people can’t get past. And maybe it’s not just a fear. Maybe it’s that they legitimately don’t want more responsibility. 

Not wanting more responsibility is perfectly fine. If you are content with your current situation, there is nothing saying you need to make a change. 

But if your dreams are bigger than your fear of more responsibility, you need to change your mindset. Really look at why you don’t want more responsibility. Is it because you are averse to conflict or negative emotions?

If that’s the case, you can start by working on your resilience. Start doing things that challenge you daily. It’s like a muscle that can get stronger. Doing hard things makes you a better person.

It’ll build the confidence you need to take the first step toward starting your dream business. 

Doing hard things makes you a better person.

Still not convinced?

Starting a business is hard. No, that’s not true. Starting a business is easy. Anyone can do it. Children can do it. What’s not easy is, building a solid business that stands the test of time. 

Overnight success is a myth. Passive income is a myth. Getting rich quickly is a myth. You’ll need to put the work in. It may take years before you will make a profit. 

Nobody may buy your product or service. This is a real concern. However, if that happens, you either improve the product or service or improve the marketing. 

Most millionaires and billionaires failed at their first attempt at a successful business. Many failed over and over. Heck, some even went bankrupt. It’s the stubbornness and refusal to give up that led them to success. 

You may write the business plan and the bank won’t lend you money. What do you do then? You find someone else to borrow from. 

RELATED POST: How to Get Funding to Start a Business

If that doesn’t work, you improve the plan. You don’t stop until you get the funding you need. 

FAQs related to common fears of starting a business

What is the biggest fear of entrepreneurs?

After writing this post about common fears, I’ve realized that the overarching fear is the fear of the unknown. 

But as mentioned above, the only way to know something is to start doing it. The unknown is only unknown until you learn about it. 

After spending time researching and taking action, the unknown won’t seem so scary. You will begin to realize that everything has a solution. 

Start being someone who is a problem solver, not a problem causer. 

What is the biggest obstacle in starting a business?

Inability to show up everyday and be consistent. 

By far, the most important thing when starting a business is to work toward it every day. 

Being self-disciplined and self-motivated are the two most important strengths you need to start your business. If you don’t have one, work on it. 

Create your own schedule. Make promises to yourself and stick to them. 

Breaking promises to yourself tells your subconscious that you don’t respect yourself so it gets harder to remain disciplined. 

What is the #1 reason small businesses fail?

Cash flow management. 

Read my article about why cash flow is more important than profit to learn more. 

Most business owners have no idea how important this is. They end up learning the hard way. 

Having poor cash flow management can cause your business to go bankrupt. 

How can you overcome the fear of starting a new business?

Overcoming your fear comes down to changing your mindset. You need to believe you can do it. If you don’t believe you can do it, that will be true. 

Refer to this article for tips on what to do if you are feeling afraid. 

Is it worth it to start a business?

Yes! The world is your oyster when you own your own business. The possibilities are are endless. However, if you prefer following instructions and putting your energy toward making someone else money, that is up to you. 

You need to develop and high-risk tolerance and realize that each setback isn’t the end of the world. As long as there are more steps forward than backward, you’re in a good position. 

That's all folks...

I hope this article has convinced you that fear doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything unless you decide it does.

Without rejections, failures and disappointments, your life would be extremely dull. If you want to live a dull life, listen to your fears and avoid them at all costs. 

Doubts and fears are common experiences for entrepreneurs when starting a business. Dealing with fears like rejection and failure is part of the journey. 

Success often comes from pushing past these fears, acknowledging them as mere emotions that can guide but not define our actions. Embracing challenges and learning from setbacks can lead to growth and achievement in the entrepreneurial world.

When I was laid off from my office management job in the mining industry, I could have just found a lower-paying job and continued on my way as an employee. I would have continued to make decent money but I would have continued to feel like I was meant for more. 

Thankfully, I decided to take my destiny into my own hands and sign up for an entrepreneurial course. This course guided me through the process of writing the plan and also helped me face my fears. 

Now I’ve been self-employed for 8 years and have never looked back. Getting laid off was the kick in the butt I needed to realize my dream. 

Instead of looking at something, like losing your job, as a setback, look at it as an opportunity. If I hadn’t done that, who knows where I would be? 

Quote: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. 

If you’re reading this, it’s a sign that you want something to change. Take what is in this post and do something today. Don’t wait. If you don’t take this opportunity now, you may never do it. 

Fear regret, not failure. 

The best way to get over your fear is by taking action. 

Start by writing the plan. If you don’t know how to do that, start by reading my blog series ‘How to Write an Effective Business Plan’. I guide you through the process section by section. 

Fear doesn’t matter. Take the first step now. 

P.S. Please share this post if you found it helpful. Forward it to someone who is struggling to take the first step to starting a business. Comment below if you are scared to start a business. 

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P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you.

Online Business Management. I will assess your business and make recommendations for improvements. Together we’ll create a plan to streamline the daily operations. My goal is to simplify your business so you can focus on what’s important.

Business Plan Writing. Take the first step to building your dreams.

Digital Marketing. If your business doesn’t have a digital marketing plan, you’re leaving money on the table.

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Dan Richards
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Brandon MackOwner | Black Atlas Creative
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Dzurka Plumbing Inc.
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