This month I decided to take on the task of covering something that I feel like does not get talked about enough.
Not the most pleasant of topics, but certainly one we can all relate to. Fear can be overwhelming, hold us back from our goals, and can harm our overall happiness and wellbeing. So why talk about it? The simple answer is that I want to normalize it. We all have fears, but they shouldn’t be something to run from. As with most things in life, I like to take a head on approach. COME AT ME FEAR, I CAN TAKE YOU! And being in the solo-entrepreneur club, I can tell you that fear about my business is a very real thing. Especially the fear that I may… dare I even say it… fail.
As many of you know, I joined the wild world of entrepreneurs as of June 2016. This past year has been an eye opening and learning experience to say the least. I have had some of my highest highs as well as some pretty low lows. But honestly, that’s to be expected. Anyone who has started a business from the ground up will tell you that it’s a stressful and scary thing. Most businesses don’t even make a profit the first year. And while I’ve not necessarily met every goal of mine this past year, I also haven’t let the fear of failure run my business.
Common Fears When Starting a New Business (+ how to get over them)
1. Not making enough money to support yourself
This is a biggie. You obviously need enough money to survive and provide for yourself and your family. That’s why it’s always a good idea to start your business as a side hustle before jumping in head first and hoping your swim rather than sink. Make monetary goals for yourself each month until you are making equivalent or more than what your current full time job is paying you. By that point, not only will you feel more secure with your income, you’ll also truly know if this is a business worth pursuing.
2. Not having time for everything
Starting a new business often means you will wear all the hats; CEO, Marketing, Accounting, Creative, you name it, you have to be it. This isn’t always easy, especially when learning the ropes of attracting your first clients and building up a portfolio. And even though I sometimes stress about getting everything done that I need/want to do in a day or week, I’ve also learned that time management is key. There is absolutely no shame is making yourself a to-do list every night so that you can hit the ground running the next morning. I know a lot of fellow entrepreneurs that try to structure their day so that they make time for each area of their business (i.e. answer emails first thing in the morning, posting blog posts every day at a certain time, go over finances and invoices before closing up for the day, etc.). Some even designate a day to a specific task, like scheduling social media posts every Sunday.
3. Not knowing where to find clients
This can also be tricky when you are first starting out. Sometimes your friends can be a great place to start. I have found that with my photography and videography services starting with friends was a great move. Facebook and word of mouth have been the driving force behind both taking off. If your serves are something a little less applicable for everyone (like Virtual Assistant, or Web Designer) reaching out to your ideal clients can go along way. I’ve found some amazing clients just by emailing and telling them how much I would love to work with them. Of course be genuine and only do this with people that you really admire and want to work with. A lot entrepreneurs and bloggers know each other through online groups and social media and if word gets around that you “love” everyone, people will catch on quickly. No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t actually care about the client and only cares about getting work.
4. Not wanting to self promote
While it can sometimes be awkward and make you feel like a little kid saying “Hey look what I made!” that’s honestly kind of what you have to do, just maybe with a little more maturity but definitely with that level of confidence. I’ve never been the type to necessarily want to talk about what I could do but when your livelihood depends on it, you get over it quickly. Like I said before, I started some of my side hustles by reaching out to friends. So I learned very early on that it went a long way to tell friends “Hey, I’d love to photograph you and your boyfriend, or do a portrait session with you so that I can practice.” Not only is that super flattering for the people you are asking, but if also gets your name out there as someone that has X, Y and Z talents. And friends are
honestly some of the best people to help you promote because they will brag about your talents to others when you’re too embarrassed to.
5. Not knowing enough about the industry
The internet has changed a lot about how small businesses are run. Honestly, it’s my life blood. Between this blog, my web development and branding business, as well as my photography and videography business, none of it would be possible without the internet. (I suppose I would still be able to make paper products, but since I don’t sell in stores at the moment, the internet is my only source of retail for that as well.) But the internet changes quickly, meaning business have to adapt quickly. So maybe you are really interested in starting a business, but feel like there are still things you to learn before striking out on your own. Join the club! Even if you feel prepared, there will still probably be things you need to learn. And that’s totally okay! When I learned to code in school, HTML5 was not the thing it is today, nor was it really taught. I took several online courses from Linda.com to freshen up my skills and learn more about the web development industry as it stands in 2016-17. And as always, practice makes perfect, because the more you work at something the faster and more precise you’ll get. And most businesses will have to continue to evolve as the industry does. I don’t really see there ever being an end to me learning new things for my business, and that’s just the way I like it! I welcome the challenge to continue to learn about the industry, what I can improve upon, and how to best serve my clients.
There’s no denying that starting a new business can be a scary thing, but fear of failure should not be something to keep you from following your passion. Something I always told myself a million times when I was first starting out, “Well somebody has this job, why can’t it be me?” and it’s true. Why not you?! Why can’t you have the job you’ve always dreamed about. And truthfully, you can. It will take a ton of work, and probably stress and fear in the beginning, but that is only temporary to your end goal. Use any fear you may have as a launching off point for business. Sometimes that leap of faith is all it takes.