Recently I was interviewed by a fellow internet marketing guru for an upcoming product launch. The interviewer asked me how I got started in the business. I told my usual story about working for the “man” and getting sick of making someone else rich. The interviewer also asked me what I thought the one thing that holds people back from taking the same leap I did, starting my own internet based business. Without missing a beat or having to think about my response I answered “fear.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I want to start my own business, but…” Followed by any number of reasons. Typical responses are “I don’t know what to sell”, “I don’t know how to set up a website”, “I don’t have time”.
All of these responses are rooted in one thing–fear. The fear of the unknown. The fear of failure. The fear of judgment.
Your fear is the strongest force holding you back from your potential. It’s not talent, ambition, the economy, money or time that stops someone who truly wants something. It’s fear. And it’s stopped countless great businesses before they even began.
What many of us fail to realize though is that playing it safe has its risks too. Can you imagine if Steve Jobs gave up after his first personal home computer didn’t work? Or can you imagine our world if Thomas Edison had walked away after his first attempt to create the light bulb failed? What about if Thomas Jefferson had been too fearful of retribution from England to draft and sign the Declaration of Independence? The ability to overcome fear has often been a mark of spectacularly successful people throughout history.
Knowledge Offsets a Lot of Fears
Fear of the unknown can paralyze a person. It’s easy to build up in our heads all of the things we don’t know how to do when starting a business. What you fail to realize is that every entrepreneur was in the same boat as you at one point.
If they were good at marketing then they didn’t know how to do payroll. If they knew how to take care of the books then they didn’t know about product creation. Nobody goes into business knowing how to do every single facet of it. Knowledge has the ability to calm even the worst fears. The more you know, the less you fear.
Take the power out of fear by gaining knowledge about the things you don’t understand. If you don’t know how to do the accounting side of a business look into how much it would cost to hire a book keeper. If you don’t know how much it costs to print and package products, call a print house and get quotes. Research all areas so you genuinely know the risk of failure and the benefits of success.
A Little Coaching Goes a Long Way
Did you know Tiger Woods has a coach? The best golfer in the world still takes lessons and direction from someone else. So does Martha Stewart. The woman who built a hugely successful business has been known to show up at her local hardware store for lessons on home renovation projects like grouting tile. If these uber-successful people can still take lessons when they are at the height of their game, don’t you think you could too?
Coaching programs are great for those entrepreneurs who want to dip their toes in the pool of success before they dive in head first. A good coach will help you get over your hurdles and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. No matter what field you are looking to get into there are mentor and coaching programs available. Go to the website of your favorite industry leader and check out their coaching program. Nearly every successful guru has their own coaching program.
Take Away the Power of Your Fear
What is it you fear the most? I want you to imagine the worst case scenario. Is it losing all your money? Is it having to tell your family and friends you failed? Is it having to look for a new job? I want you to imagine your worst fears coming true.
The goal here is to turn the light on and face whatever monster is under the bed. Take away the power of your fears. Reality probably isn’t as bad as your worst fears. Most people underestimate their ability to pick themselves back up.
If you started your own business and it failed, how hard would it be recover? The answer is probably easier than you think it would be. How hard would it really be to find another job? Chances are you could recover within a few months’ time. Is the fear of a few rough months strong enough to hold you back from living the kind of life you always wanted to?
You can also take precautions and take the necessary steps to minimize the possible downsides. You can structure your business to reduce your personal liability. You can build up your emergency fund before you start. You can keep your day job until you’re sure your new business is going to be a success.
Dive In Headfirst
History books tell us that the Greeks were some of the fiercest warriors. When Greek warriors crossed the sea to do battle, the first thing they did after landing was to burn their own boats. They effectively stranded themselves on the enemy’s coastline to strengthen their resolve to win the battle. With no other option other than victory, the Greeks put everything they had into their battles. When failure is not an option, you have no choice but to succeed.
You can burn the boats too by doing something that will force yourself into action. Sign up for a seminar. Register a URL. Put together a business plan. Sign up for a coaching program. Open up a business account at your bank. Don’t let your fear hold you back any longer, jump right in to get started.
Would it comfort you to know that I was afraid of failure when I started my first business? I quit a high paying job to just jump into the unknown. Every entrepreneur gets some anxiety over their next adventure. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have at least a little bit of fear. How you handle your fears is what will set you apart from the rest. You will either take the steps to achieve your dreams or always wonder what your life could have been like if you had just tried a little bit.