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November 15, 2021

How to Get Over Your Fears and Start a New Business

Post By:
Julie McMahon
In-House Contributor
Executive Performance Coach
Julie McMahon Coaching
Guest Contributor:

Have you ever read the meme; I would rather work 100 hours a week for myself than 40 hours a week for someone else? When you're on the outside of that meme thinking of a new business that you're super passionate about, it doesn't sound so bad. But when you're full on in the new business, 100 hours is legit exhausting.

Diving into a new business is not only exhausting, it can be downright intimidating, especially if you've never done it before. Not only do you need to execute the passion part of your business, but you also have to wear the hats of all the key players who create the foundation of any good business, like accounting, IT, business development, marketing, operations and so on.

That's just the business side, then there's the toll it takes on our personal life. Remember that 100 hours? Well, there's only 168 hours in a week; the remaining 68 hours doesn't leave much time for sleep, let alone family, friends and fun. That doesn't even take into consideration what it's like to start a business when you have children. And the truth of the matter is we just don't know what's going to happen when we do start the business. It could totally flop, or be a raging success.  While we can speculate on its success, there are so many unknown variables that can cause us to hesitate to ditch the day job and move forward on a new entrepreneurial adventure. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn’t do it. In fact, I'm here to convince you to go all in. If you’ve been thinking of starting a new business but fear is holding you back from doing it, this article is for you.

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So, let's talk fear.  Why do so many people cling to the 9 to 5 jobs that they hate? The answer is simple: fear. We are afraid of the unknown and we are afraid of failure. Fear is a primitive emotion that your brain and body rely on to keep you safe. Its intention is to keep us safe from predators and death. It creates an environment where worst-case scenarios take over our physical body and stop us from living a life with a potential for the best-case scenario. The problem is, we won’t die if we start a business and fail, so this fear is merely perceived. It’s not even real. In order to overcome this, everything we do has to be bigger than the fear. Here are five tips to overcome fear and dive in:

1. Build Confidence

Building confidence before diving into a business is important. It's a big decision and if you don't feel confident in doing so and you don’t trust yourself, you're most likely never going to do it. The two main ways to build that confidence are to do the research and have a plan. I know that seems really basic, but you'd be surprised at the amount of people who jump into something and don't have extensive research or a written business plan created. The purpose of doing research is obviously to see if the business is viable, so that you can determine if you should even start it in the first place. You may do the research and find that there's thousands of similar businesses which gives you a great baseline and understanding that there's a market for it and so you have a decent level of confidence going in.

But, if you're starting a business that does not have a lot of competition or you are building a new model, you are going to want to have even more research to support the decision to start this business. When you know the ins and outs of an industry it's a lot easier to jump in because you feel more safe and secure being able to navigate the rough waters as you move through it. I suggest researching everything. Research the industry you're going into, research the current market conditions, the location (if it's brick and mortar), marketing your business, etc., and how it's going to impact your personal life. The more prepared you are the easier it will be for you to make the decision to move forward.  Research extends beyond google. Seek out industry mentors and vetted business professionals who can answer your questions, help guide you along the way, and maybe even provide services that will set your new business up for success.

Once you know your market conditions and everything you could possibly know about the industry and how it's going to affect your personal and professional life, you can make a plan. Create a business plan that's going to give you clarity and direction so that when issues arise and emotions are running high, you have something to look at that's going to keep you moving forward in the right direction. A written business plan will further reinforce your commitment and create an even greater level of confidence to move forward.

2. Shift your perspective

If you knew you could succeed, would you do it? The answer is yes, of course you would. We have to start shifting our perspective to believe that we can succeed and can depend on ourselves. This belief needs to be stronger than our lack of confidence, and stronger than our fear. It's also important to realize that most of the time our perception of safety is a false sense of security. We think that our 9 to 5 jobs are secure and therefore give us confidence, but most of the time that's not the case. It's like thinking that the gates around our communities can stop people from coming in. Yes, it's a barrier, but someone can always jump the fence. It's not 100% safe, nor is working for somebody else 100% secure. There's always an opportunity to become just another number and lose your job overnight.

The only thing that we can control is our own behavior and nothing is exemplified more than when we have our own business. That's the true security and safety because we can depend on ourselves to get the work done and pay ourselves accordingly. This perspective shift puts you in the entrepreneurial mindset and I promise: once you're here, you're not going to want to go back. This perspective shift itself will propel you into starting your own business because once you start thinking this way, the fear of being stuck in a dead-end job will be greater than the risk of taking the leap.

3. Passion

Choose a business that you're passionate about. Something that springs you out of bed in the morning and keeps you up late at night. When we do something that we love we will find a way to make money at it because we don't want to give up. Living with purpose and passion will keep us moving forward.

So often we hear about people hating their 9 to 5 so much that they start a business just to get away from the day job. In essence they are running away from something. The goal is not to run away from your day job but to run to something that you love. To be so driven and feel so passionate about your new business that you are essentially magnetized to do it. It's the kind of feeling we have when we can't imagine doing anything else with our life. You will know that you found this passion when it's the lens through which you see the world. When we find this, the passion overrides the fear and it's easier to take the risk.

4. Know Your Why

Knowing your why is crucial. Knowing your why means knowing the deep-down, heart-felt reason that you want to start a business. On a surface level we may say we want to start a business because it brings us money, or we don't want to work for somebody else. But your deep-down heart-felt why is the REAL reason that you want to start a business. It’s the reason under the reason, under that reason and under that reason.

For instance, if I asked a client why she wants to start a bakery, she might say something like “because I like baking cakes and I don’t like working for anyone,” and then I ask why don’t you like working for someone else, and she may say “because I don’t like having set hours,” to which I ask why, and she says “because I don’t like to be controlled,” and I ask why, again, and she says “because I was controlled by my husband for many years and never want to feel that way again.” There are probably many more layers we could go on with here, but you get the point. She doesn’t want to start a bakery because she likes baking cakes and doesn’t like working for someone else like she originally said. The real reason is the freedom and control of her own life- that is her deepest desire and starting a business is in alignment with that truth.

When you focus on your real why, it becomes bigger than your fear.  Not only will this help you to jump into business, but it will also help you when times get tough and you question your decision (or even consider quitting).

5. Alignment

Aligning your life with your inner guidance is key to making any decision. If you want to make a decision with confidence it needs to be aligned with your truth. We all have an inner guidance. Maybe you call it intuition, source or God, but either way it’s that voice that knows what will make you happy. It's the voice that speaks and stands in truth. If this alignment is off, it will be very challenging to make any decision without feeling fear or worry. But when your actions are aligned with your internal guidance, magic happens. Decision after decision gets easier and joy is experienced.

The best way to become and stay in alignment is to connect with yourself daily. This keeps us grounded in our truth and feeling balanced. I personally like to meditate, but you could also write or dance, etc. Then pay attention to the choices that you are making and the feelings you have when you make them. Over time you will feel more aligned and it will become apparent if something is off.

When all else fails, just remember that business ownership is empowering. It gives us the autonomy to do what we want, when we want. It also gives us the opportunity to share our creations, passions and our purpose with the world, which in turn will reward us both in our hearts and with financial gain. Starting a new business is all-around an amazing experience, and while it can be scary (if you let the fear take over it will be), it is also incredibly rewarding. So, focus on what you desire and don’t stop until you get it.