This gap is caused by fear, those inner demons that rare up their ugly heads as you embark on your entrepreneur’s journey. I refer to them as entrepreneurial fears and they are quite a handful of them.
In my previous post about the greatest fear of an entrepreneur, I discussed 9 of these inner demons [fears entrepreneurs face] with the fear of failing being the greatest.
- Fear of starting
- Fear of the unknown
- Financial fear
- Business Partner fear
- Fear of being your own boss
- Fear of too much workload
- Fear of boredom
- Fear of failing
- Fear of success
Entrepreneurial Fears: Some Hard Facts!
According to a recent research by Mitchell, J. Robert and Shepherd, Dean A. (2011) titled “AFRAID OF OPPORTUNITY: THE EFFECTS OF FEAR OF FAILURE ON ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTION,” After surveying 120 CEOs from technology firms, the fear of failure was discovered to strongly influence entrepreneurial actions, both negatively and positively.
In another recent study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor [GEM 2012], the fear of failure was also discovered as one of the attitudes and perceptions hindering entrepreneurs from pursuing business opportunities globally.
To shed more light on this finding, in the table below, I have extracted the % of entrepreneurs with the fear of failure across all 69 countries that participated in the GEM 2012 study. This factor to a large extent accounts for the level of entrepreneurship in these countries!
Entrepreneurial Attitude & Perception Towards The Fear Of Failure According To GEM 2012 Study
% Of Entrepreneurs With The Fear of Failure
|LATIN AMERICA & CARRIBEAN|
|Trinidad & Tobago||17|
|MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA|
|ASIA PACIFIC & SOUTH ASIA|
|Republic of Korea||43|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||27|
|United States of America||32|
5 Tips For Managing Your Entrepreneurial Fears
In this unusual article, I will be sharing some insights on how to manage these fears and learn how to use them as fuel for your entrepreneurial journey.
This is perhaps the often most overlooked tip for dealing with your entrepreneurial fear. Rather than resist the existence of these entrepreneurial fears, embrace them!
The simple truth is this; every successful entrepreneur out there became successful because of these fears NOT in spite of them. The very existence of these entrepreneurial fears is what propelled every successful entrepreneur forward towards the fulfillment of their entrepreneurial dreams. No one can totally eradicate entrepreneurial fears; so your best bet is to embrace them.
To succeed in business and also in life, you must begin to accept failure and the fear of failing as an inevitable requirement for success. This is very important because failure and the fear of failure serve two purposes that are critical to your entrepreneurial success.
1. Fear of failing serves as warning signals of impending danger:
Rather than letting this fear immobilize you, let them inspire you to take corrective actions that will minimize the impending danger. The truth is when you feel the fear of failing, you are actually not doing some things right in your business and this fear is only acting as a reminder or signal to inspire you to diagnose your business.
When you ignore this fear, you do so at your own peril. But when you heed to it and slow down to really evaluate your business or the business opportunity you are about to embark on, you will most likely discover some improvement areas that would minimize the possibility of failing.
You must have probably heard many people say that fear is a false alarm and they back up their claims with this famous acronym for F.E.A.R –> False Evidence Appearing Real. This is not 100% accurate, as a matter of fact; the emotion of fear was biologically created to keep humans more alert of our immediate environment. In business, this fear keeps you on your toes and this is good because being on your toes constantly gives you a competitive edge. It simply means, you are not complacent, remember, complacency is a sign of a dying business!
2. Failure serves as shortcuts to success:
No one likes to fail, yet failures are practical lessons needed to succeed. Every time you fail, you are a step closer to success. The greatest benefit of failure is that it practically shows you how NOT to do something and that alone is a shortcut to success.
So rather than avoiding failure by all means, learn to fail fast. This is a common phrase in the start-up world these days; it simply means learning from your failures. The quicker you are to implement your business idea, the quicker you will fail and the faster you will learn what works and what doesn’t work. This knowledge is what will get you closer to success faster than any business plan!
So what does it mean to embrace your entrepreneurial fears?
Being brutally honest with yourself about the existence of these fears
Identifying with them and
Seeking out ways to manage them
Never Go It Alone:
The entrepreneur’s journey is not one you should embark on alone. Even though you don’t have a business partner per se, find a strategic support group of like-minded entrepreneurs that you can share your entrepreneurial fears and challenges with. On this journey, silence kills. No one knows it all, so it’s only foolish to assume you can make it alone.
Join a local chamber of commerce, attend your industry meetings or become a member of a business club/association. Whatever it takes, never go it alone. And thanks to the internet, these days there are many online support groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and on several blogs and forums. So you have no excuse to be a one man army or to die with your fears alone. Don’t just join, participate!
As I have often mentioned, one of the reasons why I created naijapreneur.com is to provide this support ecosystem for unusual entrepreneurs out there. As many subscribers would testify, in my welcome message I strongly emphasized the need for them to openly communicate their challenges and to actively participate in the community.
It’s not just sufficient to read the unusual articles I share, as a naijapreneur subscriber you owe it to yourself to also share your experience with the community, especially when any unusual article addresses an issue you are currently facing. That’s why we have the comment section; it’s for you guys to interact and let out some of these inner demons. Silence is not a strategy!
Taking it further, I launched a monthly business strategy session to create a mastermind group of 10 serious minded entrepreneurs who can actively support one another with my ongoing coaching/consulting. Very soon, we are going to launch an online private forum where all participants of the monthly strategy sessions can continue their strategic discussions. This forum will only be open to anyone who has attended at least one monthly strategy session. It won’t be open to every naijapreneur subscriber!
Think BIG, Start SMALL:
To manage the fear of starting, I often tell entrepreneurs this; think BIG, start small. Often times you get crippled by the fear of starting because you want to start BIG. From experience, I have noticed that most entrepreneurs want to start out from the end rather than from the beginning. They want to start the business as a finished product rather than as a work in progress.
I can totally relate with this, as an entrepreneur, the dream is often conceived in its finished state. The business idea comes in perfect form, already made and so you want to start out from that perfect stage. This is why you are so afraid to start because the finished product you see with your mind’s eye is too overwhelming for your current situation.
So rather than being inspired by the business idea, it cripples you and blinds you from knowing the very next step to take to make the idea a reality. This is what you must realize as an entrepreneur; ideas come in their finished forms, but actions are taken one step at a time.
In other words, the BIG picture, the BIG idea, must be broken down into tiny practical steps that you can begin to act on immediately. This is the critical difference between dreamers and achievers. Never confuse the dream with reality, in your mind, the dream is finished but in reality you are just getting started. So don’t start from the end, start from the beginning, start from exactly where you are. That’s why it’s called the entrepreneur’s journey. Think BIG, Start small.
Be Neither Optimistic Nor Pessimistic, Be REALISTIC:
This is the most brutal advice for dealing with entrepreneurial fears. Most fears are often as a result of your misinterpretation of your current situation. This misinterpretation can come in two forms, over optimism [too positive] or over pessimism [too negative].
When starting out a business, the first misinterpretation shows up as optimism. You will often have a positive outlook about almost everything. The excitement of creating the next big thing will blindfold you from the reality around you. The typical phrase is; all is well.
The flip side of this misinterpretation of your current situation is pessimism. This shows up when things are not working out according to plan or as envisioned. The natural inclination is to expect the worst by having a negative outlook of everything around you and going about like a loser. The typical phrase is; it’s all over.
Neither of these two misinterpretations of your current situation is good, they amplify your entrepreneurial fears because they create a false perception of reality. When your perception of reality is distorted, fear will be amplified.
The ideal outlook is to be realistic. Being realistic simply means accepting the honest truth about your current situation and taking the appropriate decisions and actions that it demands. It means always being in touch with NOW, leaving yesterday or tomorrow aside and practically addressing the present. It means responding as the situation demands. It means acting based on facts rather than emotions.
If you are afraid of starting, it’s probably because you are trying to bite more than you can chew or you are lagging behind in some vital areas. Don’t shove it aside with over optimism and don’t make matters worse with over pessimism, look the situation in the face and deal with it. If you are biting more than you can chew, start small. And if you are ill prepared, start learning what you need.
If you are afraid of working too much, it’s probably because you are trying to be a jack of all trades or you are not passionate about what you do. Look the situation in the face and deal with it appropriately. If you are trying to be a jack of all trades, seek for more strategic help like partnership or outsourcing. And if you are engaged in a business you don’t have passion for, be realistic with yourself, no matter how profitable, more work will mean less life for you.
If you are afraid of running out of money [financial fear], it’s probably because you are spending too much or you are making too little. Don’t say everything will be alright and continue spending too much [optimism] and don’t panic that everything will come crumbling down because you are not making enough [pessimism], rather look the situation in the face and find out what is exactly wrong and respond accordingly.
The bottom-line is this; when you give the situation exactly what it demands rather than misinterpreting it with over optimism or over pessimism, you will be less fearful. In other words, it’s not what has happened, or what will happen; it’s what is happening. Don’t let negative events of the past hold you back with fear from moving forward and don’t let future expectations make you bite more than you can chew. Always take a realistic view of the situation and let it dictate the appropriate action.
Acquire Relevant Knowledge And Skills:
This is another often overlooked solution for managing entrepreneurial fears. As humans, we are naturally more afraid of the things we don’t understand. As the popular saying goes; “what you don’t know can kill you!”
The same is true in business. If you are about to embark on your entrepreneurial journey without adequate information and necessary skills, your chances of failure is amplified and this alone will significantly increase your fear of failure, fear of starting, your financial fears and fear of the unknown.
Knowledge they say is power, nothing can be truer. Fear melts away in the face of knowledge. The clearer you are about the path you are treading on, the less scary the journey will be. But ignorance fuels fear; the less you know about the path you are on, the scarier the journey will be. There is a limit to how far commonsense can take you on this journey!
Knowledge bridges the gap between where you are and where you want to be. As a matter of fact, research shows that an individual is more likely to pursue a business opportunity or execute a business idea if he/she believes they possess the relevant capabilities – knowledge, skills, and talent to excel [GEM 2012 study].
The research revealed that economies with more emphasis on entrepreneurial education produced far more successful entrepreneurs than their counterparts. In other words, knowledgeable and skilled entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed in their entrepreneurial pursuit than their ignorant and unskilled peers. So how prepared are you for where you are going?
Over to You!
The data has spoken and so have I, entrepreneurial fears are real and they greatly influence your journey as an entrepreneur. The choice is yours whether to let these fears positively or negatively influence you.
This unusual article was written to help you draw some positive insights on how to deal with these fears; this is obviously not the end of this matter. So here’s your own chance to add to the discussion by sharing with us from experience; how have you been able to deal with some of these entrepreneurial fears?
Use the comment section below to contribute, thanks a lot!