Overcoming the Fear of Being an Entrepreneur

opinion expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are yours.

Almost every success story – the journey of every hero – involves overcoming some or the other fear. In fact, read enough success stories, and you might just conclude that fear is the biggest deterrent to success. Have the courage to face your fears, and keep going your way despite those fears, and you will undoubtedly know it to be true.

I became an entrepreneur in 2013, in the midst of a divorce, without money and clients. I’ve wanted to be my own boss for a while, to escape the confines of the environment that was supporting me financially, but there was always a reason to put it off. Those reasons all fell under the very vague umbrella of “it wasn’t practical”. but why?

Everywhere I looked, it seemed like a lot of equally or less qualified people were living my dream, freely pursuing their passions and doing something they loved to live with. These were normal people with normal lives – school loans, mortgages, little league baseball games, etc – they weren’t all Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. The only difference these entrepreneurs had between having their own business and not having my own was that they mustered up the courage and took the initiative to actually start their own business. On the other hand, I was paralyzed by fear and doubt.

RELATED: How to Conquer Your Fear of Starting a Business

Fear and doubt are not exactly the same thing. Fear is emotional, a feeling; Doubt is uncertainty, or not knowing. It takes courage to overcome fear, whereas it takes faith to dispel doubts. To act with courage is to act in spite of your fears. To act in faith is to act intentionally despite having evidence.

Define failure and success

When it comes to starting a business everyone is ultimately afraid that the business will “fail” (or not “succeed”) for some reason or the other. It makes defining failure and success a necessary first step in the equation, and I think is most overlooked or not fully understood.

If you had asked me at the time what it meant for my business to be successful, I would probably have said something about earning a lot of money, being able to support myself and my family while experiencing some of life’s luxuries. Success means doing what I love, making at least as much money as I would if I had stayed in the job, while being happier. Therefore, my definition of failure would have been not achieving these lofty goals. But the reality is that I did not fear failure to achieve my grand vision of success.

What I feared was my real fear, not being able to feed myself or my children and become homeless and impoverished on the street. I was afraid of the worst case scenario. Given my education, experience, work ethic, etc., however, this was the least likely to be a worst case scenario. I had no doubt that I was worthy and capable, but I was afraid of not making a living or meeting my needs. My fear was driving my doubts. Once I realized that my fear was irrational because a worst-case scenario was unlikely, my doubts miraculously dissipated.

RELATED: 11 Fears Every Entrepreneur Should Overcome

worst case

In 2014, actor, writer, comedian, and illustrator Jim Carrey gave a commencement speech at Iowa’s Maharishi University of Management, in which he said: “Many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as pragmatism. We What you really want seems impossible. Ridiculous to expect more of the reach.” However, when you look closely, our fears are often not rooted in practical things. Our fears are usually based on the possibility of a worst-case scenario. Carey adds:

“My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe it was possible for him. And so he chose a conservative option. Instead, he found a secure job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go of that secure job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take the opportunity to do what you love.”

Truer words were never spoken, and Carrie’s father is not alone. According to a sourceAn astonishing 40% of Americans have been fired or terminated at least once. By comparison, statistics published in 2019 by the Small Business Administration (SBA) show that 20% of Business Startups fail within the first year, while almost half die within five years of business failure. Given those numbers, taking the opportunity to do what you love may not be more risky than getting what you consider to be a “safe” job.

The tragedy of Carrie’s father isn’t that he failed to take the opportunity to do what he loved; It is that he was overcome by doubt in himself driven by an irrational fear of the least likely scenario of poverty to be true. He underestimated his own abilities and the likelihood of succeeding in doing what he loved, versus the likelihood of failing at a “safe” job.

RELATED: Inquire Your Fear To See If It’s Keeping You Safe

Jim Carrey is an extraordinary, kind of comical success. If you want to be a comedian, you can’t define success as becoming the next Jim Carrey. This is an unfair and unnecessary benchmark to achieve. Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and any other entrepreneur who has become a household name are also exceptions. Setting out to achieve your success upon becoming an entrepreneur will almost certainly result in failure. You absolutely should not be afraid to fail to achieve such astronomical success, as you almost certainly will not. Opting out to own your own company, on the other hand, is a more practical proposition.