When I did a survey recently I asked the women in my community what they struggle with most and what stops them from running their own business.
The main response was fear.
I totally get it.
That is because I feel this fear almost every day.
Even after running several businesses for almost 20 years and being very successful with some of them.
I feel it with every new product I launch.
I felt it when I launched a new product for 40+Style (the 40+Style Club) a year ago. And even though I have done launches and released new products in the past this fear never really goes away completely.
How does this fear manifest itself?
Here are some ways that I can tell that this fear of failure is popping up.
#1 I feel it in my gut
Just thinking about doing all the work and going through the process of launching a new product fills me with dread. As an introverted person I don’t want to put myself out there too much. I would rather hide behind my screen.
For a launch I need to do the opposite. I need to be out there. Show myself in videos. Be energetic, chatty and confident about the product I’m about to release. I need to energise women, make them feel fearless and confident. These are all quite difficult things to do when I’m nervous myself!
#2 My headaches get worse
I get very intense and focussed (when I’m not in procrastination mode) during launches and I want to get things just right. That causes my headaches to flare.
#3 I do a lot of things that have nothing to do with I need to do (and am fearlful of) and procrastinate
I know I’m not the only one in this as I’ve heard a lot of women say that their offices are never tidier when they are at their most busy. I remember when I launched the 40+Style Club, I reorganised my office, I bought a new ipad and set it up, was thinking about taking up drawing and photography again and cleaned all the screens in the house.
When I have some tough tasks or difficult tasks to do, I tell myself that I need more time to decide what I will do with my business and I create all kinds of lists and plans for the year.
Even though all this can be useful, it’s very clear that I’m procrastinating as I don’t want to face the reality of all the work I still need to do.
#4 I start doubting myself
All sorts of doubts start creeping in when you do something new and scary. What will others think it they see me doing this? Is this product really good? Will women sign up? Who do I think am I to expect women to sign up for this month after month? This self doubt and wondering if you are good enough to start offering what you have bee working on is also known as the imposter syndrome and it can happen at every stage of your business journey.
Fear of failure remains very real even as I’ve been in business for so many years now.
#5 I start disliking everything about my business
Even though I normally love my business, I start hating it. I don’t want to create another single collage or write another article.
I start creating all kinds of excuses of why I can no longer continue with this business.
The danger of this problem is that, if you’re not careful, you start to believe it too! It’s so tempting to start with the next shiny thing rather than just continue with what you already have and build on your momentum.
So yes the fear of failure is very real and if you have been experiencing it , you are not alone
What are some ways to kick this fear in the butt?
After all this, you may wonder how I ever managed to start a business if fear is still so prevalent.
Here are some ways I cope with this fear and am successful despite of it.
#1 Blogs, books and podcasts
I’m a blog and (audio) book junkie and believe in the power of self improvement.
If you are reminded, either by yourself or others, that you need to make your ideas heard and you need to use your voice and that you are unique and creative, you start to inhabit some of those ideas.
Listening to podcasts, audiobooks and reading blogs lets you experience what others have experienced before you.
And it becomes very clear very quickly that almost every single one of these really people had the same kind of fears and failed several times before they succeeded (read my own story here).
Some recommended books include:
- The Dip, Seth Godin
- Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
- Rising strong, Brené Brown
- Daring greatly, Brené brown (which inspired the name of this post)
- Braving the wilderness, Brené Brown
In addition to books and blogs I also listen to a lot of podcasts.
#2 Accept failure
There are very few business owners that have not failed.
In fact, failure can be good because you learn a lot from the process.
I actually failed many times before starting 40+Style. I started several other blogs before creating 40+style and my past experiences taught me how to do things right. 40+Style would never have become successful without those ‘failures’ or otherwise described as ‘practise rounds’.
I have learned that failure is an important component of growing. That is why intellectually I’m not afraid to fail as I know that I will learn from the experience.
I understand that my self worth is not diminished just because I created something that nobody likes. It very often does not even mean that the product is bad, but that it was not promoted, branded, presented in the right way or that the market was simply not ready for it.
You will learn so much from all the feedback that you will get and the next time you will do it better.
#3 Take baby steps
You don’t have to move a mountain in one single stroke. You can do so in small increments.
That is one reason I like online business. You can start with a simple blog (which you can basically setup for free in 5 minutes). You don’t have to take big risks or spend a lot of money to get started. Slowly but surely you start adding some content, see what resonates and then do more of that. Once you know what resonates, you can start to promote more.
Slowly but surely you take steps towards your goal.
#4 Create lists, tasks and goals
If something I need to do is not on the list, it doesn’t get done. Therefore I make sure to make clear task lists of everything I need to do.
I break down small goals into little ones and then go through the big task one small step at the time.
I now manage all my tasks and projects in Asana.
#5 Start the day right with a morning routine
I’m still not very good at this but it really helps to start the day out right. One method you could follow for your morning routine is the book Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
In this book he describes how you can get up just a bit earlier and do all the important things before your work day even gets started. (This is also a great way to start your new side business if you are still working full-time and you can’t find the time).
Some things you can consider doing in your morning routine
- Vocalize a mantra
- Keep a diary of your intentions for the day
- Do your exercize (go for a walk or do yoga)
- Drink lots of water
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Listen to a podcast or read a book that will help move your business forward
All this can be done in an hour and should be done before you check any social media or email.
#6 Make sure that you stay healthy
It’s always important to make your health a priority, as without it you can’t really do much of anything.
You can add important health tasks (like exercize) to your morning routine or you can make them part of your weekly schedule.
I have installed apps on all my devices that send me warnings to take breaks and look away (to avoid eye strain). I installed anti-glare screens on my computers and devices and installed an app called f lux which eliminates blue light.
I try to do a form of exercize every day which can be as easy as a walk around the block.
Another thing that can help is to write all your fears down. You can do so on paper, online or in a blog post.
Writing often helps me to lift the weight off my shoulders and get things into perspective. It’s a rare day that I don’t feel less fearful and more empowered when I write it all down.
#8 Realise that vulnerability is strength
I already mentioned the work of Brené Brown who writes about shame and vulnerability.
Vulnerability is actually really important to connect with people and to dare greatly. We often see it as weakness but it’s actually a sign of strength.
By putting yourself out there and daring something different you make yourself vulnerable, but in doing so you are actually showing a lot of strength.
You are daring to take a risk, to get feedback (good or bad) and to make make a change.
You are making a choice and you are choosing the risky one.
As Brené says, you need to choose: Comfort or growth. You cannot have both.
#9 Get a coach or a mentor
Having someone to guide you through your fear can be really powerful. Choose a coach or mentor that has already achieved what you want to accomplish and be willing to invest in that person. It can save you lots of time agonising and will often get you towards your goal much quicker.
#10 Become part of a mastermind or join a meetup group
It’s also powerful to connect with likeminded people and become part of a mastermind of private group. This is especially powerful when this group comes to together on regular basis and you can check in with eachother.
So choose growth and learn to dare greatly!
Yes! You will be scared many times.
You will feel your belly aching and you may feel that you cannot continue.
But believe me, it’s worth it.
I’m so glad I took this path of entrepreneurship so many years ago. This path of growth has given me many gifts:
- A wonderful community of 40+ women, many of whom became friends
- A very comfortable income
- The ability to live and travel any time I like (as I have a location independent business and continuous reliable income to support it)
- No boss!
- The knowledge that I have my fate into my own hands and is only limited by my fear or negative self beliefs
- The ability to continue to grow and work through my fear on a daily basis
- The ability to stop and take breaks whenever I need (since I’m not paid by the hours I work and a lot of my income is passive income from articles or courses I created years ago)
I wish all of these wonderful things for you too and I can help you with this.
For now, I hope you can share your experience.
Is fear stopping you from starting or growing your business? How do you overcome it?