If we are honest with ourselves, fear is the constant companion of many startup founders and small business owners, particularly for soloists.
It’s natural when you think about it. We are responsible for paying the bills and making enough money to support ourselves. What will happen if you lose a big valuable client? What if you get sick? What if a competitor comes into your market and steals all of your customers? Fear, fear, fear.
It’s really easy to let our mind run rampant and live a life filled with fear. Of course the problem is that this is a terrible way to live. It is exhausting, it invites doom and disaster. I strongly believe that our customers can smell fear, and it erodes their sense of confidence that they may have in us and our products and services.
So how do we manage fear?
How do we stop this beast from controlling us? I have found that if we adopt and learn from these five strategies, we will slowly start to build our confidence. And over many years I’ve realised that in business, the more confident we are the most likely we are to succeed.
Here are five strategies that I’ve used to manage fear in my business and in my life:
Understand that the longer you do what you do the better you get at it and the more confident you become
Try this – once a week, take a few minutes, grab a pen and a nice notebook and write down everything you’ve learned this week. At the same time write down how you’ve made your business better this week than it was last week. Last but not least, write down how you’re better as a person this week than you were last week. Keep a track of all of these improvements, lessons, learnings etc. and I guarantee your confidence will grow and your fears will start to dissolve.
Have really good, regular debriefing sessions with your clients
Ask them to tell you what’s working for them and what’s not. Learning from these discussions, and not getting threatened or leaping into a defensive mood when they want certain things to improve or change, makes us better in every way. When we have strong and mature relationships with our clients, we tend to be far more confident in the relationship lasting and growing. This has to be good for business.
Deal with facts not fiction
Most of the things we worry about will never happen, yet we still worry about them, which when you think about it is kind of silly. In every situation, with every fear, make sure you are dealing with the facts, take the time to get them, don’t get emotional, don’t let your mind race ahead, collect the facts and then make informed, smart decisions.
Imagine that what you are worried about actually happens
But think it all the way through. This fearful thing has happened, what now? What will you do? How will you recover? Start to put a plan together for what you will do if this happens. Take the fear out of the fearful thing by being prepared to face it should the situation arise, and have better thoughts about what it might actually mean.
Talk about your fears and concerns with other business who have been there and done that
Having some reassurance from others in business who have actually survived the very fears that are holding you captive will do a lot to take away the intensity of what you are worrying about. At the same time, it gives you access to a peer group to help you if the worse case scenario should happen.
But please rest assured that whatever you are worried about or fearful of in business, I’ve been there too, along with anyone who has run their own business.
We need to learn to master our fear. Use it as a motivator if that helps. It has certainly helped me to get things done in the past, but it’s not sustainable as a motivational tool. I see so many business owners who are living every single day filled with fear about the future that it breaks my heart.
I would love to know that you are not one of them.