I want to talk to you about the F word.
No, not that F word.
The other one. Fear.
Fear is something that most entrepreneurs and business owners face at some time. Let’s be real, you’ve given up a job with a guaranteed monthly income to work for yourself, that’s pretty damned scary, isn’t it?
You don’t always know where your next clients are coming from or if you will work hard and then have to chase someone for payment. You have to deal with things like taxes and bookkeeping and marketing and all different skills that you have never had to think of before.
Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of having to tell your family and friends that you couldn’t make it work. Fear of missing your children’s school assemblies still because although you work for yourself you just can’t tear yourself away from the laptop for an hour.
Risk taking is a huge part of running your own business, especially if you decide that you want to go all out and be hugely successful. Nobody ever made a hugely profitable business cautiously.
So if you’re going to carry on down this road of entrepreneurship, freelancing, self-employment or building a business – you need to be prepared to take some risks and overcome your fears.
I don’t agree with the hard masculine approach to overcoming your fears. You know that idea that you just plough through them and get on with it. While I believe that fears are there to teach us something and that we need to overcome them I think we can do this in a more manageable way.
The first step to overcoming your fears is to recognise when you are afraid. Sometimes fear hides itself behind anger, sometimes behind denial. Whenever you feel confronted, upset, angry or want to walk away from something ask yourself what you are afraid of.
And then when you know that you are feeling fear you need to ask yourself what you are afraid of. You might need to sit quietly and really think about this one as it’s not always going to be obvious and you will most likely be trying to deny your fears and won’t want to easily admit what is worrying you.
When you know what you are afraid of its time to overcome that fear. I like to do this by writing out 5 things that are not true about your fear, and 5 positive outcomes that you could achieve if you can get past it.
So if you were afraid that you were going to lose a client by telling them that you can’t start their project for another week then the 5 things that are not true could be : the client will be angry, they will tell other people that you couldn’t help them, you might lose the job, they might refuse to pay you, you might not get a second chance.
Then the 5 positive outcomes of you telling them that you are booked up for another week might be that they learn to respect your time, they see you as an expert because you are so busy, they are happy to wait, they offer to pay you more if you can squeeze it in sooner, or they refer you to their friends because of your honesty.
Being afraid of fear is not a good place to be. Instead, you need to learn to embrace it, accept that it’s part of life, and move on.