Being an entrepreneur has its highs and lows, and there are times that can challenge you to the core. Before running my own business, I had an idealistic view of what it would be like. I knew I would work hard due to the commitment I had previously shown when employed, and I knew my work ethic was an advantage. But I wasn’t prepared for when things didn’t go according to plan, especially when the business wasn’t making sufficient profit. I found myself challenged by several personal barriers that surfaced and realized I needed to work on myself, in addition to working on my business.
Some people believe that fear can be a great driver, and I’ve seen entrepreneurs suggest a healthy way to stay motivated is by facing things head-on. In Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, author and retired Navy SEAL David Goggins wrote, “Only you can master your mind, which is what it takes to live a bold life filled with accomplishments most people consider beyond their capability.”
I recently asked in an entrepreneurs group on social media, “What keeps people motivated?” Many cited the fear of having to work for someone else, the fear of running out of money and the fear of not achieving one’s dreams. Personally, I think being driven by fear can be very stressful. I prefer being driven by a sense of purpose and vision, as well as a dedication to adding value to the world and people’s lives through creating products and services.
That said, there are three common fear-based personal barriers that I faced. Below are my tips on how to navigate them when starting your own business:
Fear Of Rejection
When I first started in business, after the first few times of potential buyers not buying from me, I stopped making the effort to shout about my product or contact potential buyers because I developed a fear of rejection. I told myself that I wasn’t good at sales, but what was lurking beneath was a fear of people not being interested. I took it personally when people didn’t make a purchase, and I gave up easily because of the perceived rejection I had faced. When you internalize each and every “no” you receive, it can start to chip away at your self-esteem.
I overcame this by working on myself. If you’re struggling with this as well, examine the rejections you have experienced in life, and reframe them. As an adult, I was able to see that what I had experienced as rejection had more to do with the other person than it had to do with me. I was able to see that in some of the situations, the person was going through something that made them make certain decisions, which had nothing to do with me per se.
Once I worked on this, in business, I started to recognize that it was OK for people to say no. And in some cases, you may want to be persistent if a potential customer doesn’t yet see the value of what you’re offering.
Fear Of Success
When I shared with my family that I was thinking of running a business, there were some members who were skeptical, as getting and staying in a job until retirement was what they aspired to do. I wanted to prove them wrong by showing them there was another way.
I told everyone about the great things I was doing and announced to the world the great things I was going to achieve. The pound and dollar signs flashed before my eyes. Yet, bubbling under the surface of great anticipation was the fear of leaving people behind, my friends seeing me differently, not being able to connect with my family in the same way, etc. I also feared that running a business meant I needed to work harder than ever before, which would compromise my time and freedom.
But keep in mind that having to work harder is a fallacy, as you have likely already been working hard before starting your business. If you have a fear of success, I also recommend that you stop sharing every little thing you’re doing. I found this helped lessen the concerns and fears that were coming from my loved ones. This also freed me to take more risks, as I didn’t have to worry about what others thought. My true friends are still around and are my greatest champions and support network, as are the new friends I have made along the way.
Fear Of Failure
This is one of the most common types of fear I’ve seen in business, as many people worry they might not succeed. This can be very closely linked to a fear of rejection, but can also come from not feeling good enough or worthy of success.
This is a fear that kept me playing small for many years. I was scared of growing my business beyond the success I had already achieved, as I feared it would fail. I had tried many ventures that had not worked out, and even though I may have been guilty of not giving them enough time to grow, I still had the “battle wounds” and mental scars from my experiences of things not working out as I expected them to. But I once read that you never really fail unless you give up, so you must accept that failure is simply a part of running a business.
Over the years, I’ve learned that fear happens and continues to surface, especially during times when I’m being challenged to grow and move beyond my comfort zone. When your fears are surfacing, look at them as a signal that you’re growing. I’ve found this mindset ignites courage within me, and even if the fear doesn’t go away completely, I can keep things moving until it’s no longer there.