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This article was updated on October 26, 2021
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Fear, uncertainty and self-doubt are all raw feelings people experience when they consider the idea of starting their own business. It’s scary. No doubt about that. Entrepreneurs of all ages and with various levels of experience face internal questioning when taking on a new endeavor as they bring their own unique idea out of their head and into reality.
As an entrepreneur, there is added pressure to be successful not only because of the employees, partners and investors relying on you, but mostly because you are proving to yourself, your family and your friends that your idea is worthy and you have the gumption to make it happen.
In a survey commissioned by Weebly, Wakefield Research found that one-third of Americans are more afraid to start their own business than to jump out of a plane. With new business creation down 65 percent since the 1980s, this very real fear is stifling ideas, the economy and job growth.
So, what triggers entrepreneurial fear? And how do you overcome it and build a successful business? It’s all about finding the courage to take the first step, wholeheartedly commit to your idea and believe in yourself.
Below are a few ways to overcome some of the biggest mental roadblocks entrepreneurs face that I’ve picked up from my own journey and discussions with fellow entrepreneurs.
Set attainable goals — then ignore your inner perfectionist.
Where do you even begin? There is an inordinate amount of detail to think about and processes to put in place. If there is one trait entrepreneurs have in common it’s the ability to set goals. Start by identifying what your overall company mission is, and build smaller, achievable tasks that serve as stepping stones to reaching that mission. Those small goals will not only make the company mission more digestible and less intimidating but will give you a good indication of where to actually begin. Entrepreneurs are often type-A perfectionists, but remember that everything does not have to be perfect to start testing versions of your product, start building your own website and talking about your business to anyone who will listen.
Realistic goals are especially important when you’re starting your business as a side hustle. “Getting started is really tough because you’re making a change in your daily routine. Most people have jobs and a regular life they are managing already,” Jeff Wiguna, CEO and co-founder of Kuju Coffee and a Weebly user, said in an email. “Right after getting home from work, I would sit at my computer and tell myself to get only one single thing done. It could have been anything, from setting a up a spreadsheet, looking up an idea, Googling a name idea, making one phone call — even if no one picked up. The goal was to do that every day.”
Focus on your passionate community.
Let’s be honest, passion and grit can only take you so far in business, and without being financially stable the business will stall (and your bills will pile up). A key element here is identifying and building your community. Your community should be made up of a few groups — investors, partners and passionate customers — as each will aide in your financial success. By identifying people who are excited about the work you’re doing, your support system will solidify quickly.
Throw away the idea that there’s a perfect work-life balance.
You’re getting ready to pour a majority of your time and energy into starting a business, because if you don’t it will be difficult to succeed. So, what will happen to your personal life and relationships? If you’re an entrepreneur there’s a good chance that the line between personal and professional life is a bit blurred already, but it’s impossible to start a business without wondering how your family, friends and your Facebook feed will react. Thankfully, with the right support system, running a business doesn’t have to be a hinderance on your personal life. The ability to focus on family and friends while keeping sales rolling is essential. Be sure to surround yourself with partners who understand the need for balance — and who won’t make you feel guilty about also living your life.
There is definitely no one-size-fits-all solution for every business and founder. Katie Raquel, a Weebly user and founder of Katie’s Coldpress, told me in a discussion, “One fear was that I’d invest loads of time in something away from my daughter, and then not see it pay off. How to balance work and family is such a personal decision for every entrepreneur, and hats off to anyone that figures out what works for them. For me, it’s running the business mostly from home on my computer and phone so I can be with my kids during the week.”
In America, our survey found 57 percent of people have had at least one idea for a business solution or product. Yet, only two-fifths actually take the leap and execute on it. There will always be uncertainty when starting your own business, or pursuing any dream you have. Vulnerability and questioning come with every decision we make in life, but what separates achieving the dream of running your own business from sitting on the sidelines is the ability to jump in and take that leap.