Jodie enjoyed her job as a travel agent. But after she had a baby, she didn’t want to go back. The inflexible hours would make family life difficult. She decided to start a business as an independent travel consultant. Jodie was scared. She worried about paying the bills, finding clients and marketing. But it didn’t stop her. In fact, despite the fear, it was easy for Jodie to quit her job and start her business. 14 years later, she’ll tell you it’s the best thing she ever did.
Why was it easy for Jodie? What is the difference between Jodie and other people who can’t get over the fear to start something new?
There are two answers to this question. And they make two of the 10 tips in this article for getting over your fear of starting your own business.
1.) Make Your Desire for this Business Stronger than Any Alternative.
Jodie’s desire to have a business was stronger than her fears. She had a big reason. Jodie had a baby that meant more than anything. She wanted to spend time with her while she was little. The flexibility of her business would give her more time to spend with her child. Staying at a job and working long hours and on weekends was not an option.
Having a powerful motive is the secret to getting over any fear. People get over fears because their desire to do things that scare them is much stronger than the alternative. People get over the fear of flying because of a yearning to see family on the other side of the world. Many overcome the fear of public speaking because of a serious ambition to proceed in their career. If the why / reason / desire is stronger than anything else, people find the means to do whatever it is they need to, to overcome anything.
So in order to start a business, you need to strengthen your desire so there’s no question of staying with the alternative.
The key is to throw everything at making your business the only thing you want to do. Here are some ways to do this:
Imagine yourself in 5 years’ time, still in the position you are in now.
Visualize yourself on your deathbed with the regret that you never took the chance.
Create a vision board with pictures of the rewards you get from being in business. Look at it and add to it every day.
Journal every day what you will gain from having a business.
2.) Detach from Your Current Situation.
Another reason Jodie found it easy to leave her job and start her business is because she’d been on maternity leave from her job. This allowed her to detach from her job. She wasn’t there every day. It hadn’t been part of her life for many months.
Of course, this is difficult when you have to go to your job every day. But many people are attached to their jobs or current business in more ways than one. This makes it difficult to leave and start a new venture.
So how can you detach while in a job?
If your job is your social life and your work life – find another social life.
If your job is your only source of financial security – create a financial back up (more on this later).
If you’re staying at your job after hours – stop. Spend this time working on your new business instead.
Other ways to detach could be working part time. Working from home. Dropping some responsibilities. Or just not caring as much.
3.) Take care of the financial worries.
I was still employed when I started work on my affiliate marketing business. For 3 days a week, I worked in a library. While my son napped on my days off or slept in the evenings, I worked on my business. I remember my husband asking me “why are you doing this, you’re not earning much money from it”. The thought in my head was “I’m not earning much money… yet”. But I knew I would. And in the meantime, I had financial back up from my part time work and cut down my expenses. Slowly but surely, I earned more money from my business and after 3 years I was earning enough to give up my part time work.
Money worries are a major reason, it scares people to start a new business. But there are ways start a business and earn money. Here are some ideas:
- Start your business while you’re still employed.
- Stay employed and work on your business in the evenings and on weekends until you earn enough money to give up your other work.
- Save enough money to support yourself for a year beforehand
- Work and save like crazy before giving up employment to work on your business. Work overtime. Start a side hustle. Or take on two jobs for a year before you start your business
- Start your business as a side hustle. Many people start their business as a side hustle. They do it as a hobby in their spare time. Check out Chris Guillebeau’s side hustle school website to see lots of ideas.
Decrease Your Expenses
We’re in lockdown while I’m writing this article during the Covid 19 pandemic. I’m spending less than I could have imagined possible (apart from on our food bill). Before lockdown I read articles that said don’t spend money on coffees, eating out, holidays and rolled my eyes. But having been forced to do it, I realize it’s not as hard as I thought. If your desire is powerful enough, it’s easy to decrease your expenses.
You can go all out and downsize your home and ditch the car. But often it’s the little things that add up. The new pair of jeans, the weekend break away, the drinks with friends, the fuel for numerous short journeys or the latte.
Isn’t it worth giving up your daily coffee to start the business of your dreams?
4.) Focus on the Essentials.
Overthinking about costs, branding, marketing, start up costs, insurance, business loans makes starting a business overwhelming. The result is that you panic and rush back into your comfort zone, never taking the chance to start anything.
One way to overcome this is to think in terms of the smallest steps possible.
Cheryl, a web designer, started her business by designing her first few websites for free. After viewing her work and getting inquiries, she could see there was a demand for her services. Her first paid website was for a friend, a small step into the business world. Cheryl lined up 2 or 3 paid clients and then quit her job. Cheryl focused on the essentials, which for her business were finding clients and providing a service. In the beginning, she didn’t worry about branding, logos, domain names, and an office. It’s not that these things weren’t important, but it’s that they could wait until she’d been paid for a few jobs.
Incidentally, despite being a web designer, her website is not the primary source of her clients. Word of mouth is how she gets most clients. She could have spent hours designing her website when starting her business. But this wouldn’t have mattered. Instead, she stripped down her focus to getting customers and building excellent websites for them. You can read Cheryl’s story here.
Each business is unique. For some, a brand name and website are important to take to clients, and this may be what to focus on. The essential focus for my business is creating excellent content and publishing it on the internet, so not having a website is business suicide for me. Work out what the essentials are for your business. This simplifies everything and makes starting easier. Many businesses can cut through the noise and focus on finding clients and providing an outstanding product or service.
Start taking the small steps you need to. The rest can come later.
5.) Break it down into small steps.
Once you’ve figured out what the essentials are, you need to break them down into small steps.
One of my essentials is writing keyword-rich articles for my website. For a website to be successful, it takes about 50 articles of valued content to stand a chance on google. So, I need to write 50 articles of 2000 words which is 100 000 words (more than the average book!). This is an overwhelming thought which induces panic. To avoid the panic, I break it down into steps.
1.) Research keywords for 1 article.
2.) Research content.
3.) Write article and repeat.
That’s it – 3 small steps. I know what I need to focus on. If I write one article every 2 days, that’s 100 days until having my website. About 3.5 months. This seems doable.
Define small steps There are many small steps you can take before going all out and starting your business. Start taking them. Make sure you focus the small steps on the essentials.
So if you’re finding clients for a website business, the steps could be:
1.) Go to 2 different networking meetings.
2.) Pitch my business and speak to 2 potential clients at each meeting.
Or if you’re just starting up.
1.) Write a list of people I know who need a website for their business.
2.) Offer them your service for free / a reduced price if they leave you a review.
The secret to any journey is just taking one small step after another. Just take a small step. And the next one. Then the next one. Before you know it, you may have traveled further than you think. Plus, the momentum builds. And then it’s easier to keep going.
6.) Conquer Your Mindset.
Your mind can be your worst enemy. It’s important to challenge any negative thoughts.
“What if” statements plague many people who are scared to start a business:
What if I fail?
What if I can’t support my family?
What if I have to give up self employment altogether and get a 9 to 5 job?
What if I can’t afford to pay my mortgage?
Try writing down all your what if statements. Then write solutions to those problems.
Once you have answers to what if statements, it’s important to stop obsessively worrying about what could happen. In her book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” Susan Jeffers states that any time what if statements come up we should reply with the phrase “I’ll handle it”. Because we can handle anything that comes our way.
It also helps to have a contingency plan in place. This could be in the form of a safety net such as savings in the bank or a plan to get back into employment if things don’t work out.
7.) Get inspired by people that have already done it.
When I started affiliate marketing, I read stories about other people in my situation who had started an online marketing business.
One was a lady called Janet. She had three children and the youngest one was 4. Yet she created an online affiliate marketing business and was earning enough money so she didn’t have to work. I looked at what Janet was doing. How she’d got to the position she was in today. I learned if Janet could do it this way, I could too. She was just one of my inspirations.
You can learn a lot from people who’ve already done what you want to do. First, it is a testament that if they can do it, you can too. Second, you can learn from their mistakes and the things they’ve done right. There are people in every industry to inspire and motivate you.
Find them at networking or coworking meetings. Online, they may be on social networks such as Linked n. Find inspirational bloggers and writers who’ve had success in your field. Read books by entrepreneurs. One example is Screw It, Let’s Do It, by Richard Branson. You may have inspirational entrepreneurs among family and friends. If you look, there are examples everywhere.
8.) Have a clear vision.
Your vision of your business is the fuel you need to take action. Having a clear vision of your business is important to keep you passionate and excited. If you lose sight of your vision, fear takes over which leads to a lack of motivation.
A vision doesn’t need to be complicated. When Jenna started her beauty business, she saw that the salon she worked for was bringing in a lot of money, while she was just earning a small wage. Her vision was simple. She saw that starting up as a beautician on her own would allow her to have access to more of the profit. She saw creating a business would allow her to earn more money. This simple vision was enough to get over the fear of starting a new venture.
Your business vision can be more elaborate. You might get excited because of what your business will give to the community or the world. Will you help people be more eco-friendly? Or are you passionate about helping people sell their house and improve their lives that way?
A vision could also incorporate what having a business means for you. Will it give you more time and freedom to spend with your family? Will it be lucrative to afford a better lifestyle? Will it give you the ability to travel? Does the work excite you? Will it be giving something back and you will get joy from that?
The main thing you want to get from your vision is excitement to motivate you if the going gets tough.
Many people write the vision down. I see and feel my vision and get excited. You can create a vision board and fill it with pictures of your business and the benefits it will provide. Whatever works for you.
9.) Accept your Fears.
In the book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, Susan Jeffers tells the story of her successful friend, a self made man who saw the title of the “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” course and said “Yes, I guess that is the way I’ve always lived my life, without consciously realizing that’s what I’ve been doing. I can’t remember not being afraid, but it never occurred to me that fear would prevent me from taking the risks necessary to get what I wanted.”
Everybody who starts a business faces fear at some point. Some entrepreneurs may not tell you they do because they haven’t recognized they are feeling scared. They’ve simply dealt with the fear differently to you.
One strategy to deal with the fear that arises is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT therapy). ACT is easy to implement into your life. The idea is to accept that you feel scared about starting a business and not to resist feeling the fear. Then you commit to acting, anyway. This is what Susan Jeffers’s friend did. He accepted being afraid but acted in spite of his fear.
As part of ACT therapy, you observe your thoughts and accept them, but you don’t buy into them. You realize that just because you thinking something doesn’t make it real. You watch your thoughts come and go, but give them no more gravity than just being a thought.
One of my favorite techniques is to accept a fearful thought, but define it as something separate from myself. My fearful voice is called Jimmy. When Jimmy tells me all the things that are going to go wrong. I tell him… Jimmy, thanks for your input, but it’s not helpful today. Or if I tell Jimmy to shut up.
Most fear is imagined. It’s a story in your head and nothing more. You can accept fear while understanding it’s just a thought and nothing real. Fear then loses its power. And then you can act.
10.) Look at your core beliefs.
There is much repeated statistic that 9 out of 10 start up businesses fail within the first year.
With repeated statistics such as this one, no wonder we’re scared to start a business. But this is a nonsense statistic. The evidence for this doesn’t exist. Here is just one article debunking the myth.
What we don’t realize is how much these repeated statements sink into our core beliefs. And there are many more myths like this one. What about how having a job is more secure than running a business? Again, there is no evidence for this. You only have to look at how easy it is for a company to make people redundant to realize this isn’t true.
Look into the core beliefs you have about business and challenge them. You need to believe you will succeed and if your core belief is telling you otherwise, this won’t help.
Challenge the beliefs that don’t support your business venture and change them. This relieves the fear.