The media portrays entrepreneurship as a glamorous lifestyle where start-ups are valued in the billions of dollars in short timeframes, and entrepreneurs live a lifestyle beyond that of even celebrities.
The fact of the matter is these stories, whilst true, are really the exception to the rule, and the truth is that most entrepreneurs spend years investing every ounce of themselves into their businesses, failing several times along the way, before reaching that level of success, and even then some won’t.
Entrepreneurship is more difficult than most can comprehend, and the public does not see the struggles entrepreneurs go through. Often you will look at an entrepreneur’s lifestyle on social media or in the news, and think “man, I envy that guy or gal”, but what you don’t see are the struggles he/she goes through, the pain and tears, and the fears entrepreneurs face every single day.
Here are some of the things that scare entrepreneurs the most:
What if I fail?
The Nr 1 fear of all entrepreneurs is “what if I fail?” and subsequent to that a whole lot of other questions for debate such as “What will my friends think of me?” or “What will I do now?”
The fact of the matter is that every successful entrepreneur has failed several times, but instead of letting that failure break them down, they looked at it and made a list of the lessons learnt so as to never repeat it, and then went on to create another business. Great entrepreneurs all have mentors who guide them to avoid failures in business (see the article “What Is A Mentor And Do I Really Need One?”).
Do not care what others think, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs who have been there, reset, and start again.
What if the customers don’t like my product or service?
There is always a constant fear about market conditions changing and customers not being interested in your product anymore, or if you have developed a new product, that customers won’t like it.
The solution to this is to always keep your finger on the pulse of what your target market’s needs are, and constantly focusing on innovation so you can adapt to market conditions. If you did proper market research and business planning in the beginning, this shouldn’t be hard to do.
See the articles “Do I Need A Business Plan” and “The Key Components Of A Kick-Ass Business Plan“.
What if I can’t pay the bills at the end of the month?
The majority of entrepreneurs are stressed about where revenue will come from in order to ensure they can pay bills (business or personal) at the end of the month.
Sales and determination are the backbone of your revenue stream. Work out what you need to cover bills, and work back from these how much revenue you need to generate, and how many people you need to market to, to get customers. Then break that down into daily or weekly targets. Drive yourself as you would any sales person to reach those targets. And importantly, believe in yourself! You can do this!
I don’t know how to be the boss.
As an entrepreneur, not only do you need to be the boss for any staff you hire, but you also need to be your own boss. This can be scary for anyone who has never been a leader before.
Being a boss should not be scary, so don’t worry about it. Focus on your vision for the business and let your passion sell that to your staff. Inspire and lead by example, and learn from mistakes, and you will make a great boss. As an entrepreneur, keep yourself focused on your vision and goals, and that motivation alone will drive you to success.
I need start-up money.
Almost all entrepreneurs believe they need money to start their business and grow it. And the truth is, YES you do to start a business, and without the proper funding upfront, the fear of early failure is evident on most entrepreneurs faces.
The fact of the matter is you need money to make money, and any person telling you differently has never been an entrepreneur (See the article “Do I Need Money To Make Money?“). That said, the amount of money you need is really debatable. If you have a solid business plan, good network and a track record (personal or business), then sourcing funding should not be too hard to get your venture of the ground. Sell the concept to those closest to your first.
See the articles “11 Ways To Finance Your Business” and “How Starting A Business Is Like A Computer Game”
I have no work / life balance.
The fear of working all the time and neglecting your family can be terrifying, especially with the divorce rate for entrepreneurs being higher than other groups of people.
Setup a proper work / life schedule and manage your time effectively, and you will find you have enough time to spend on both aspects of your life. Never neglect your family, but ensure you are focused enough on your business to make it succeed. Balance is achievable. Business is like a rubber ball, when you drop it, you can pick it up again and start over, unlike family which is like a glass ball, if you drop it, it will break and no matter how much glue you use, the cracks will always show.
My friends are more successful than me.
When we look at our friends working 8-5 jobs and watch them go on holidays and have not a care in the world, we often become envious of that. The same when we look at fellow entrepreneurs whose businesses are more successful.
Remember you became an entrepreneur so you can set your own destiny. You might not have the lifestyle stability of someone who has an 8-5 job when you start your business off, but trust me in a few years with the right commitment, strategy and guidance, you will have a lifestyle each of them will be envious of. Entrepreneurs live like nobody wants to, so they can live like everyone only dreams about down the line. Use the successes of your fellow entrepreneurs as inspiration and motivation that if they could do it, then so can you. It’s simply a sign that it is possible at the end of the day.
How will I ensure stability for my family?
The hardest part of being an entrepreneur and investing everything you have in your business, is ensuring stability, especially financial stability, in your family.
Use your need to provide for your spouse and children as a driver to success. Whenever you feel down and sales are down, look at them and say to yourself “this is why I must be successful” or “this is why I must do it”. There is no greater motivation than that of a parent having to look after a child.
How do I grow my business?
As entrepreneurs we always get to that point where enough really isn’t enough, and we need to grow our businesses. This growth in itself will be associated with a lot of risks, and that creates even more fear.
You are an entrepreneur. You are someone who can take calculated risks. If you need to grow your business, look at your business model first and foremost and see what you can change to give your customers more of what they want. If you need funding, go get it. Get a mentor to advise you on growth strategies (see the articles “What Is A Mentor And Do I Really Need One?“).
I don’t know how to do everything in the business.
As an entrepreneur you are not only the CEO of the business, but likely also the CMO, COO, CFO and the person who makes the coffee and sweeps the floor. This can be a scary position when for instance you are not experienced in finance or maybe marketing.
Be honest with yourself and look at the strengths and weaknesses of your skills, and map them to what your business requires. Highlight the gaps and focus on bringing in partners to fill those gaps (preferred), or if finances allow, outsource or insource those aspects of your business. Remember, you can’t do everything yourself and the right partner who shares in your vision and commitment, can help you take your business to success a lot faster.