Starting a new business requires a leap of faith in your own abilities, but fear can get in the way of that. Fear is our emotional response when we perceive a threat. It causes very real changes in our brains and other organs in the body. Responses to fear range from hiding to running away, to being paralyzed into a state of inaction. The sources of fear include obvious triggers like confrontation as well as less obvious ones like threat avoidance. Sometimes simply discovering something unexpected prompts fear.
Fear can seem real, but you don’t have to let fear dictate your life or your new business. You might feel fear because you don’t have a well thought-out plan. If you understand the positive aspects of fear, how fears are learned, and how to deal with them constructively, and you’ll prepare yourself to succeed when starting a new business.
The Positive Aspects of Fear
Fear is an adaptive behavior that has allowed people to survive everything from predators to natural disasters. Our inborn fears are quite basic. We innately fear falling. We fear loud sounds. This makes sense, because the fear of falling is necessary to survival in our species. Loud noises tend to produce a “fight or flight” response, which often involves physically ducking your head. It’s a hardwired response that preps us for something dangerous. If we didn’t have fear, we might put ourselves into unreasonably dangerous situations, take things out of the oven without mitts, or be overly trusting of untrustworthy people. So fear isn’t all bad news.
Much Fear Is Learned Fear
Most of our fears are learned. Many fears develop through association. A soldier who survives an IED encounter will naturally have a fight or flight response to seeing something that resembles the IED’s packaging, like a lone backpack or box. That doesn’t make fears any less important, but, when we can identify why we fear something, we can develop insight into how to deal with it constructively.
Maybe your spouse said your last idea for starting a new business wouldn’t work out and, indeed, it didn’t. This can add disproportionate weight to his or her words when you contemplate another venture. Should you listen? I say trust yourself first. No one starting a new business knows what lies ahead.
Don’t Let Fear Dictate Business Decisions
Fear has a place in our lives, but that place is not “in control of everything.” We don’t have to ignore our fears, but, instead, we should acknowledge them and understand that facing our fears is what courage is all about. Courage is the first step toward making the most of the control you have. Courage is required us to push ourselves ahead through the fear in the many situations where you don’t control the outcome.
If you wait for the “perfect” time to start a business, expand your product line, hire an assistant, or find a better vendor, you could be waiting a very long time. Have you ever watched kids playing double-dutch jump-rope? They know they can’t wait until conditions are “perfect,” or they’ll be sitting out forever. At some point, they have to have faith and jump into the game. The same is true for people starting a new business.
Persistence Can Accomplish Amazing Things,
Don’t forget the importance of sheer persistence. It’s critical not to underestimate the importance of persistence in launching a business, because it is tough.. A 2015 study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concluded that “persistence is a critical determinant of creative performance and that people may undervalue and under-utilize persistence in everyday creative problem solving.” Sometimes the difference between the entrepreneur who “makes it” and the one who does not is simply not giving up.
It’s important to know that when starting a new business, failure isn’t the final word. You never lose in business either you win or you learn. Some of the most successful business owners have failed enterprises in their past, but that fact doesn’t make them any less of a success. If anything, it makes success sweeter. If you’re considering starting a new business, I invite you to download two free chapters of my book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months.
You can succeed in business if you’re willing to confront your fears and put persistence to work for you.