Daydreaming of being your own boss? You’re not alone. In 2022, more than 43% of Americans said they wanted to own a business of their own.
But not all these dreamers will take the jump into entrepreneurship. Just four million businesses are registered with state and local offices every year — far fewer than the 150 million people wanting out of their traditional jobs.
Unfortunately, there’s no secret why.
Today, one in four Americans say that fear is the number one deterrent to starting their own business. Between the threat of failure, the stress of success, and the fear of letting others down, millions of people remain trapped in jobs they hate because of the fear of defeat.
Fear is a very real and very present element of starting a new career. However, there are ways to get your business off the ground even in spite of stress — especially if you use it as fuel.
Fear is just a part of starting something new. So why let it keep you from achieving your entrepreneurial goals?
Let’s assess five of the best strategies for starting a business in spite of fear — starting with the most effective.
1. Start small
Change creates fear, and fear creates hesitation. If you’re looking to build your own business, it pays to start small and work your way up to new heights.
For example, you may want to moonlight for a while before leaping into your business as a full-time profession. You could also work full-time in your new business while laboring part-time at another job to slowly adjust.
Remember: you don’t need to construct a multinational business model in the first three months of opening. Just eat the elephant one bite at a time, and allow yourself to manage just one little change at a time.
2. Seek mentorship
The effects of mentorship are overwhelmingly powerful, especially when it comes to small business success. Today, a whopping seven in ten mentored businesses survive after five years, making 83% more revenue than companies that go mentorless. These are no small numbers!
Finding solid mentorship in your area is surprisingly simple. If you don’t already have a specific person in mind, you could look for:
- Professional coaching in your area
- Mentorship from your local chamber of commerce
- Nonprofits in your niche or industry
Social media networking is also a fine place to begin. LinkedIn, for example, lets you meet new people and learn from experts in your field.
3. Be honest
There’s no way to completely eliminate the fear of new things — and starting a new business is no exception.
Rather than telling yourself to ‘suck it up’ or ‘deal with it,’ be honest about your feelings and the situation at hand. Do what you can to embrace feelings as they come and address situations head-on.
For example, if you’re dissatisfied with profits from the previous month, don’t try to brush it under the rug just to save yourself the stress. Instead, tackle the issue up-front with an honest look at what went wrong.
No matter how you look at it, honesty is the best policy.
4. Take a SWOT
A SWOT analysis is a document that compares your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Having one on hand allows you to navigate your fears or uncertainties without second guessing or wondering about the future.
Here’s how it works:
- Write about where your business is excelling or where it might excel.
- Jot down some bullets of where it may not be successful.
- Consider where the business could go with your guidance.
- Add a section with any threats that could affect your startup.
SWOT assessments can help you kickstart business by building plans even in the face of fear, feeding your passion and firing you up as you take on forecasted obstacles.
5. Measure everything
Success without measurement means nothing. Without a ‘yardstick’ to measure your progress, you’ll never know how much progress you’ve made — leading to unnecessary fear and anxiety.
A few of the most common success metrics for new businesses include:
- Sales: How much product is sold per month, or how many services are booked every quarter?
- Revenue: What does the profit margin look like? What about the cash flow?
- Customers: Are clients happy? What do online reviews look like?
Measurements like these provide plenty of positive reinforcement, keeping the fear of failure under control.
Facing your fears and staying the course
“Starting a new business is one of the most stressful yet satisfying parts of the entrepreneurial journey,” says Sarah Mae Ives, founder of Sarah Mae Ives Mentor & FB Strategist. “While the path to success can certainly be nerve-racking, the reward of self-ownership is always worth the effort.”
So start small. Partner with excellent mentors, adopt a policy of honesty, and take a SWOT analysis that will put yourself into the right mindset. As you grow, track your success with metrics to see how far you’ve come.
You’re closer to starting a business than ever. So crush those fears and get started!