This article is about fears but also commitment. Commitment to a larger life in which you build the business that you want that gives you the financial and personal liberty that you want. Commitment despite fear. Commitment to do something great and never look back in regrets. It’s also the commitment to taking the risks and simply trying out. This commitment despite fear is called courage. Let’s dive straight in and build your courage.
Leaving corporate to go and start your own business is a long and winding road for many of us. There are just so many questions to be answered.
What’s my inner calling? What am I good at? Would this be marketable? Is it worth all the time and effort? Would I not be better off staying at a corporate? Will I regret it if I don’t try?
There’s just so much going on in an entrepreneur’s mind, it can feel like a rollercoaster!
And yet, despite all these questions, there is something that pulls us, entrepreneurs, forward something that motivates us to simply go out on this wonderful journey that will challenge us more than anything ever before, that will make us work harder and with more intent than anything ever before and that will allow you to dream big and create a life your way exactly how you want it.
But soon, fears creep up that are trying to keep us back. Some are rational, some are out of uncertainty, and some are due to our egos that do not want to get hurt. If you are ready, let’s examine the top 5 fears that I identified at a startup event with over 25 founders. And even more importantly, let’s examine how to find the courage to overcome our fears and commit anyway.
Fear 1: Fear of Failing with your Business
This is likely the most common fear: you invest all this time and money and then fail with your business, leaving you in debt and shame. Please ask yourself: what does failure actually look like? Is it not earning enough to live off of it? You can run your business as a side hustle until you make it sufficiently profitable. Closing down the business? You can keep your company open and tune it, especially if you are still a solopreneur.
Failure is part of the process. It’s become cliché to say, but failing fast and early just to learn from the mistakes and improve your business is what will make you successful. Dr. Schwartz says it nicely in The Magic of Thinking Big: “it’s not so much about what you know when you start but how you keep on learning and improving when your doors are open”.
My favorite in failure culture is still Michael Jordan.
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan
I love this quote because it reveals a winning mindset so clearly. You can’t miss a shot you never take. But you also can’t ever make one.
Do you have the courage to take the first shot?
Fear 2: Fear of Shame, Critique, and Humiliation
Related to the fear of failure is the fear of critique and shaming. For many, social consequences are an even bigger hurdle than the fear of failure itself. On one hand shame “I failed and I am ashamed of my failure” and on another hand being criticized “I hate to say but told you so” is what I hear many wannabe entrepreneurs say.
Brené Brown, an emotional and shame researcher provides four steps to develop resilience to shame and humiliation in her book “Atlas of the Heart”:
- Recognize and acknowledge shame and its triggers, stay mindful
- Practice critical awareness: can we reality-check what drives shame and humiliation. Are your and others’ expectations realistic? Be self-compassionate.
- Reach out: share with others what’s happening, own your story.
- Speaking shame: are you talking about how you feel and what you need?
Replace silence, secrecy, and judgment with empathy. This will eradicate shame and humiliation and replace them with empathy. Stop comparing yourself with others and acknowledge your story.
Plus, depending on what your business is: you can keep it running as a side gig and return to full employment later.
Fear 3: Fear of Financial Risks
Committing 100% to a business and then not being able to earn a sufficient income is 100% on the mind of 100% of the entrepreneurs that I know. Here are a few questions that can help you figure out a way to minimize the financial risk when starting your business:
What can you do outside of your 9-5 to get started with mini-steps?
This allows you to retain an income while you can develop your first MVP, get to know your first customers better, deliver value, find your voice, build your webpage and funnel, etc. Doing this while still having a regular job is hugely liberating. Because you don’t rely on your business to create any profits, yet. It’s a game you play from 6-8, where you are learning the rules and get better at it.
Can you reduce your working hours at your main job?
Once you decide to commit to your business, you are serving the first clients, and you feel you have something going for you, it’s time to reduce your working hours. Use the extra time to serve your clients better, to improve your message, processes, and MVP.
Can you take a part-time job related to your enterprise?
This tactic is one of my favorites. One of my clients in my mastermind has just pulled this one off: when her sustainable fashion business did not return sufficient income, she found a part-time job at one of the largest German fashion retailers, in the sustainability department. What won her the job offer versus dozens of other candidates with a master’s in sustainability? Her business savviness and entrepreneurial thinking. The double win here is on her: now, she can also use her new connections to push her own business forward in front of her competitors. #kudos, amazing move!!
Fear 4: Fear of the workload
Creating your business is a lot of work. An entrepreneur friend of mine said: “Even if you are used to be working hard as an employee… you will work harder if you don’t know what the next month will bring.” Looking back at my own journey as an entrepreneur I can share a few principles that have helped me to lighten the workload and keep a cool head:
- I’d rather be working hard on my irresistible project on my own terms than being forced to work hard on something in ways that I don’t support on other people’s terms. The former results in momentum, the latter results in burnout.
- Work smarter not harder: this concept is wonderfully outlined in the book “The 80/20 Principle” by Richard Koch. The gist of it: Focus on actions that account for 80% of the results but only for 20% All of us know the Pareto Principle, very few use it effectively.
- The Who not How: In the beginning, we have the natural tendency to do everything ourselves. Most entrepreneurs are real multi-talents. Being able to do so many things at a high quality makes it hard to focus on your unique ability, the area of work that only you can deliver, and where you deliver the most value. Find “who’s” who will do the rest for you and pay them. It hurts to pay but it will pay off.
Fear 5: Not Being Able to Find a Job in Case Your Business Fails
“Who wants to hire someone, who failed with their business?” Me! And many recruiters as well. And here’s why. Too many job applicants are more concerned about salary, benefits, and amount of travel than about how they can leave an impact. Having had your business shows, that you clearly care about the impact and value of your work, not only about the paycheck.
Replace, “I have failed” with “I have tried something ambitious and it didn’t work out the first time”. In my experience, this type of entrepreneurial spirit is often lacking in the corporate world, a world often deprived of risk-taking and big thinking. These two qualities will make you stand out from most other applicants. Use them to your advantage in your next interview – if you should ever find yourself in one again.
Last but not least: the position that you can attain at a company depends on your experience and the value that you can deliver to the company. I personally have learned more in the last year than in the three years before combined. The entrepreneurial growth curve is steep! Most of these qualities are 1:1 transferrable to a corporate job as well.
But… don’t believe me. Try out for yourself!
If you are currently at this point of the journey, you feel the inner calling to do more but you are held back by these fears (or the final one: “it’s simply too overwhelming, I have no time and no plan”), then reach out to me for a free strategy call, where we can clarify your goals and determine how you can reach them.
I am happy to support you,
To Break Through in Your Career Change Who You Are – Alpine Institute