Business fears are scary

With Halloween fast approaching and ghouls and goblins popping up everywhere, it seems like a good time to talk about what scares you. If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a good chance that you have a whole list of items that strike fear at your very core – regardless of how long you’ve been in business. And this year has been an exceptionally scary one for most people.

How Do You React?

Often, our first reaction is to run when things get scary. If you run fast enough, you can outrun whatever is chasing you. Or that’s the theory. In reality, running from fears only increases them. They get bigger and more threatening until, finally, they force a confrontation. At that point, you have to stop and do something. And by that time, much damage may have been done that could have been avoided by acting more quickly.

The list of fears for a business owner is lengthy:

  • Fear of not enough sales
  • Fear of too many sales
  • Fear of growing the business too quickly
  • Fear of not growing the business quickly enough
  • Fear that you won’t be able to find the right employees to keep the business going
  • Fear that your really good employees will leave for another opportunity…

The list goes on and on. And when you’re me, that list also includes health challenges. Will I remain healthy enough to run my business? Will I get a new heart soon? When I do get a new heart, how will that impact my health and my business? And on and on.

Friend or Foe?

Many entrepreneurs have learned that fear is a two-headed beast. It may hold us back, immobilizing us and rendering us mute, or it may motivate us to draw our sword and slay it. Most fears are temporary and can be alleviated by action of some kind – any kind. Even a small step can send the monsters scurrying for the shadows.

When fear knocks on your door, here are a few steps you can take right away to hold it at bay while you decide how best to deal with it.

  1. Examine the source of your fear. Where is it coming from? Is it real or perceived? You’d be surprised how many fears begin in your imagination and grow from there.
  1. Play with a few worst-case scenarios. Write them out if you need to. Once you get comfortable with the worst that can happen, it may be easier to see a solution to the problem that’s in front of you. Often it’s not as bad as it seems. Once you’ve given this some thought, jot down best-case scenarios and get moving.
  1. Embrace the fear. I know, it sounds weird, but fear can often be a learning tool and a fierce motivator. Allow yourself to feel afraid for a while. Just don’t feel it so deeply or for so long that you become paralyzed from it. Examine it, and ask yourself what you can learn from it.
  1. Remind yourself of your “why.” Now is the perfect time to give some thought to the reasons you started this business in the first place. What was your motivator? Why did you want to start a business? What do you hope to gain from it? If you need tips on finding your “why,” take a look at my previous article, What’s Your WHY.

How Will You Handle It?

We live in a fear-filled world these days. Global pandemics, COVID-19, economic and political upheaval, riots in many cities…there’s a lot to be afraid of. Stay calm and practice the steps above. Just choose one and start there. You can get through this. And you may discover, after facing your fears, that you’re a better person for the experience. 

Dale Carnegie, motivational speaker and author of the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, once said this:

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Good advice, indeed.