According to Wikipedia, fear occurs in response to outside stimuli. The stimulus can be in the present or the future.
As humans, our normal response falls under two categories. We either fight fear and overcome it, or we run away from it.
Everyone has fears, especially when it comes to starting something new. I call it the fear of the unknown. We, humans, are always scared of the unknown because the unknown means more risk.
However, you are not the only one who wants to be an entrepreneur, and fear is holding you back from becoming one. The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who have overcome their fears and defied adversities to kick start their entrepreneurial journey.
A glorious example of an entrepreneur who defied fear and turned into a multi-million dollar business is Ralph Lauren.
Ralph Lauren was born to a poor Jewish immigrant family and went onto become a multi-millionaire.
“You can enjoy the moment, but you have to keep things going — and you can’t be a one-trick pony.” – Ralph Lauren said after his first success where he sold $500,000 worth of ties in one year.
And then you have the founder of Apple – Steve Jobs. Another child of two immigrants – Steve Jobs was a millionaire by the age of 23.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life,” Steve Jobs says. “All fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
Another such example is Oprah Winfrey- After a traumatic upbringing in which Oprah Winfrey was abused and molested by two family members and a family friend, she ran away from home at the age of 13. At 14, she gave birth- the child died shortly after.
“The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.” – Oprah Winfrey
The above rags to riches stories did not happen by chance. They are the stories of entrepreneurs who overcame their fears.
I am assuming we all are in a better position than they were at our age. So, what is stopping you from becoming an entrepreneur?
What are the fears that are holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
1. Fear of Failure
The most common of all the fears that hold us from becoming an entrepreneur is the fear of failure. I can still recall the days before starting my first venture. I was working as a software developer in an easy job. Obviously, living an unsatisfied life. I wanted to quit from day one but did not do so.
Why? Because I was afraid of the failures. My fear of failure was rooted in pride. I always thought of others who I would have to face if I failed.
How did I overcome the fear of failure? To start with, instead of thinking about failure as a negative feeling, I adjusted my mind to think of it as a part of the journey of starting something new.
I read stories of entrepreneurs who overcame their failures to build successful ventures, and I realized that no person in the world did not fail or there’s noone who has not failed.
Failure is part of life, and it should be used as a chance to grow, to learn, and to adapt. You will miss 100% of shots you don’t take, and there are plenty of opportunities you will regret missing ten years from now.
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once” – Drew Houston, Dropbox CEO.
If you throw the towel as soon as you experience just a little setback, you will never succeed. If it doesn’t work out the first time, continue failing until it works!
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston S. Churchill
2. Fear of Success
Why would success be one of the fears that hold us from becoming entrepreneurs? The very thought of this is bizarre. However, let the truth be told.
Success has its enemies. Success leads to envy, insecurity, and at times, doubt.
Before starting my second business, I was known in the family as a successful business owner, but that sowed doubts in my mind before beginning the second venture.
I would ask myself questions like:
“Will this put my partner in my shadow.”
“Will I become a cold and greedy person.”
“Will things get overwhelming running two business.”
Success, as I mentioned above, can be a double-edged sword. It has the power to make you complacent, insecure, and at times, make you oblivious to realities. The only way you can overcome this fear is by believing in yourself.
3. Fear of Financial Insecurity
Are you thinking about how you’re going to survive the next couple of months if you jump ship and leave your 9-5 job? Does the risk of uncertainty frighten you? It should! You have to be responsible with your money, but at the same time, you shouldn’t have a scarcity mindset.
If you can’t leave your 9-5 job straight away, then start entrepreneurship step by step. Invest 2 hours every day after regular work hours. Try to invest more and more hours until you get used to 4-6 hours. If you worry about not having enough capital to invest and make your idea work, there are now many possible ways to get funded, including equity crowdfunding.
After you reap the first rewards of your labor, you will be able to calculate how much work exactly you need to do monthly and how much you need to scale up to become a full-time entrepreneur.
4. Fear of what others Think
This is one of the topmost reasons why we don’t become entrepreneurs. People generally care too much about what others think. It is a doom scenario if you want to be an entrepreneur.
What if my friends tell me my idea is terrible?
What if people laugh at me and my product?
What if my family doesn’t support me and says that I should stay happy with my 9-5 job?
We know that you’ve asked yourself some of those questions, maybe all of them, even perhaps ten more that are relevant. You need to change your mindset. Entrepreneurs think differently. The thoughts of people around them don’t sway them.
Here is what one self-made millionaire entrepreneur had to say about this fear:
“Some of you still care about what other people think. You still are worried about how your ‘friends’ will look at you, judge you, talk behind your back. Are those ‘friends’ paying your car payment, rent, credit card, cooking you dinner nightly, and really honestly care about your well being? Maybe. Probably not.”
If someone doesn’t support your most important passions, dreams, and goals, then you can hardly call them a friend, can you? And if they aren’t your friend, why should you care about what they think? When you succeed, they will be the first ones to congratulate you. But you will remember them with how they treated you before.
5. Fear of Public Speaking
Not all of us are good public speakers or enjoy the limelight as well as others.
Trust me – Being in the limelight can be frightening, especially if you haven’t done it throughout your life. According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Entrepreneurs understand the importance of being seen; that’s why you can find them on every possible internet platform and traditional media like tv, radio, and newspapers.
For you, this might be the unknown, and we fear the unknown. It’s reasonable because it’s helped us survive millions of years as humans. If we don’t have total control over something, we fear it. The unknown can lead to success, or it can lead to failure.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” –Nelson Mandela
Just like with everything in life, practice makes you perfect. It’s hard to leave our comfort zone, but step by step, it becomes easier. Try practicing in the mirror, control your facial expressions, and start taking the lead in group meetings.
After that, try talking in front of people, you don’t know. It doesn’t have to be work-related, but you must know what you’re talking about. Social media is excellent for this. Record videos and see how your followers will react. Do it daily, and it will become natural for you to speak into a camera.
There are two ways to make the fear of public speaking go away.
The first one is visualization. Try to think about the situation you are going to be in: the place, your surroundings, and people watching and listening to you.
Think about the best-case scenario where people will clap you and cheer you. And think about the worst-case scenario where people shrug their heads. This way, you have “experienced” both things, and stepping up on that stage will make it so much easier.
The second one is something mentioned earlier. You have to talk about things, you know.
Don’t talk about topics you aren’t an expert in. Think about potential questions you might be asked. You can predict these things. If you get put on the spot with a hard question, try to skip instead of saying something stupid.
“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” -Mark Twain
The journey from thinking about an idea to implementing the concept is not comfortable. It is full of various fears that are bound to pull you back. Plan better and smart to overcome your fears and start as an Entrepreneur. Cheers!
About the Author
Jasmeet Singh runs Lessons At Startup. He regularly writes about startups and entrepreneurship and has been featured in B Plans, Shout Me Loud, and others. He is a regular contributor to Quora.