Author: Lisa Wozniak
Some years ago, I held a job in corporate America that made me miserable. Miserable to the point that it was affecting my health. Going into business for myself was something that I always longed to do but the fear I was experiencing to take that first step was debilitating! It took my getting really sick to the extent that I could not return to work in order for me to take the plunge and go into business for myself. Since then, I’ve grown a great business that I couldn’t be more proud of, but with each level of growth and success, there’s been a measure of fear that has come along with it. It’s inevitable that fear will continue to show its face as long as there is growth, challenges and doing something new, but there are lessons on fear that you need to learn now. Once learned they will make the difference between whether you control them or they control you.
Whether you’ve taken the plunge to go into business for yourself or are contemplating this big step you’ve no doubt had these thoughts swirling around in your head and keeping you up at night. Am I good enough to make it on my own? Am I smart enough? Am I talented enough? Will I be successful? Can I make a living at this? What happens if I fail? If you’ve been in business for a while, these tormenting thoughts are merely replaced by others that can be just as strong and just as damaging. Are we ready to expand? Where are my customers going to come from? Is now the right time to invest more money? No matter what stage of business development you’re in rest assured fear is there.
How fear affects you
Left unchecked fear can take hold and affect you in many adverse ways. You begin to feel trapped and it can prevent you from moving forward. It can prohibit you from being your best self, rob you of your joy and worse yet, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. If you allow the fear to rest inside you long enough, you begin to behave in ways that are not conducive to growing a business and leading a group of people or being around the customers you so desperately need.
How it affects your business
Yes, this ugly monster we call fear will even attack you company’s bottom line. As you allow fear to take root, you stop making the decisions necessary to grow your business. You become ultra conservative and the thrill and risk of going out on your own is replaced by pinching pennies, shying away from new projects and growth based decisions necessary to grow both you and your business. If left unchecked you can penny pinch your way right out of business.
What to do about it
So, how do you recognize it? How do you stop it? How can you avoid fear without being reckless? Here’s what I’ve learned about fear and how to keep it from ruling your life and your bottom line. First of all, when you want to avoid doing something for your business, you need to ask yourself why. Is it money? Is it comfort? What’s holding you back? Do a little bit of recon to get to the bottom line on this one. It’s important.
Some time ago, I wanted to do more with live streaming video. All of the research I’d done supported the fact that it’s a great way to reach people and an effective way of gathering a captive audience to deliver your message. But fear wanted to jump in and rear its ugly head. What I discovered after a bit of soul searching was that I was afraid of being on camera and didn’t understand the technology. Once I discovered this I knew that both of those items were not going to be an acceptable excuse to grow my business to the next level. It was simply a matter of learning the technology and practicing in front of an audience and ultimately taking the plunge. Boy am I glad I did! As terrified as I was going into it, the feeling of success I felt after having completed my first live streaming video was immeasurable! I walked on air the rest of the day!
But this example points out an important lesson. First you have to do some soul searching to get to the bottom of where the fear is coming from and finally you need to put together a plan for how to achieve it. Most of our fears can be tackled by breaking them down into tiny steps. I like to call them my tiny victories. Set your goal and then break it down into tiny steps that you work on every day and don’t let yourself off the hook. The feeling you’ll get from achieving these little victories along the way will result in a major victory once you’ve achieved your goal.
Once you get into the habit of doing this with all of your major business and personal goals, you’ll come to see that you’ve just taken fear by the horns and kept it from preventing you from being the person you were always meant to be. I’d love to hear your lessons on fear and how you kept it from controlling your life and your business.