5 Things That Scare Me About Starting My Own Business

Guest Article

5 Things That Scare Me About Starting My Own BusinessAfter many years of working for other people, I am now working for myself. It’s not the first time, but it’s the first time in more than a decade.

True confession: I’m terrified.

It’s not about confidence. I know I’m good at what I do. Social media may seem new, but I started building and managing online communities in the early 90s. I’ve been helping companies use the internet to connect with passionate fans and business partners for two decades. The tools have evolved, but the principles are the same.

I’m pretty sure every business owner has faced the issues that terrify me about being an entrepreneur. Here are my greatest fears – and what I’m doing to kick them in the pants.

Fear #1: I’ll be lonely. I’m not talking about personal loneliness – I live with three men (one large and two getting bigger every day), so I’ve got plenty of company. I’m talking about professional loneliness. No teammates to talk strategy with. No colleagues to round out the plans for next quarter. No boss to offer constructive criticism.

What I’m doing: I’ve built an informal network of friends and former colleagues with hands-on expertise in social media, search marketing, SEO, and public relations. We touch base weekly to toss around ideas. Though we offer competing services, we know that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” so we share knowledge freely.

Fear #2: I’ll hire too soon (or not soon enough). If I bring on my first employee too soon, I could end up wasting money. But if I wait too long, I might end up with more work than I can handle – and unhappy clients.

What I’m doing: Instead of planning to hire full-time employees, I’m lining up contractors with skill sets I know I’ll need. I’ve vetted their skills and checked their availability, and I’ll be sure to give them a heads-up at least a few weeks in advance.

Fear #3: My referral well will run dry. I’ve already gotten great leads from my professional network. But what happens when I run out of friends to tap? How will I meet the potential clients with whom I’ve got no one in common?

What I’m doing: I’m scheduling time each week for networking. Online, I’m commenting on marketing blogs, answering questions on LinkedIn and Quora.com, and joining professional conversations on Twitter and Google+. Offline, I’m chatting people up at Starbucks, asking my mechanic and hair stylist whether they need marketing help, and exploring opportunities to teach small business owners about social media through SCORE.

Fear #4: Money. I’m scared I won’t make enough to cover my expenses and invest in growth. I’m terrible with paperwork and receipts. And businesses need insurance, licenses, equipment, training, travel funds. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type this list. What if I can’t cover my costs?

What I’m doing: Fortunately, I’m married to the most money-sensible guy on the planet. With my husband’s help, I’ve got a clear understanding of how much revenue I need to cover my monthly nut. If I didn’t have a live-in advisor, I’d hire one – or barter my services for financial guidance.

Fear #5: I’ll always be on call. Every entrepreneur I know thinks about business 24/7 and is available around the clock. A client wants to talk at midnight? You stay up late. A client wants to meet on Saturday? You miss your kid’s soccer game. I’m scared my business will take over my life and take precedence over my family – even though family flexibility is supposed to be a perk of working for yourself.

 What I’m doing: I’m striving for balance. I’ll never say no to a client, but I try to schedule around important family events whenever possible. I answer emails courtside at my kids’ basketball games, make dinner (quietly) during conference calls, and work after dinner so I can pay attention to my boys after school. There are two things on which I won’t compromise: I don’t miss deadlines, and I need my beauty sleep. Everything else, I hope, will fall into place.

What scares you about being an entrepreneur? Confess in the comments below.

Erika KerekesErika Kerekes recently left the corporate world to start her social media marketing consulting firm. She hopes that building a business is like riding a bike, minus the broken arm and scabbed knees.

“Can Word With Pushpin” image courtesy of Stuart Miles /freedigitalphotos.net

Comments

  1. says

    I am just getting started with my business, and Fear #3 is so real for me. I LOVE the suggestions on what you are doing to conquer this fear. I will definitely be taking this advice!! I love the information you are providing on this blog!

  2. says

    Fear #6: How hard it will be to evangelize on the future that internet is promising us

    What I’m doing: Expanding my vision with outstanding passion, vision and courage from remarkable leaders

    Thanks for your inspiration. Regards

  3. says

    Amen! While my business hasn’t even started (it’s slated for 3/17 but I think that 3/21 might be apropos – first day of Spring!)

    I feel all of the above having worked 14 years at the same firm and managing a team. And having never launched a company.

    If I can add one more thing: what happens if I’m quite successful and am faced with revamping what was originally my passion, my vision? I think the answer is instilling integrity in the most important part of my business: my customers.

    Jump in!

  4. Lisa says

    Recognizing and finding solutions to address a healthy set of fears shows a lot of wisdom! I spent about 12 years at the beginning of my career working directly with small businesses, and those who were aware of what might go wrong were more successful than those who wouldn’t look at reality until it smacked them in an unpleasant way.

  5. says

    A good solution to professional loneliness is to find a mentor. There are lots of organisations that can help you source one. They can be invaluable as a sounding board.

  6. says

    Many small business owners outsource their financial services. Instead of spending hours trying to organize receipts, brush up on tax law, and keeping the books in order – they can spend their time building the business and managing day-to-day operations. Outsourcing is a monthly expense that you can factor into your budget along with rent and utilities.

  7. says

    Great post! Let me encourage you… I have been “on my own” for over 30 years. I absolutely love it! Everyday is a new adventure. Life is fresh and opportunity is everywhere. Be encouraged, you’ll be fine…

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