3 Things Every Small Business Owner Held Back by Fear Needs to Know
By: Kathleen Ries-Jubenville | Read time: 6 minutes
As a small business owner, have you ever procrastinated on anything you knew you needed - or even wanted - to get done? Of course you have! We all procrastinate sometimes.
The problem is that sometimes we confuse procrastination as our identity. For example, we might say to ourselves, "I am a terrible entrepreneur. I can't get anything done. I'll never succeed!" Or, we might approach procrastination as just another problem to be solved, so we start trying every checklist app and productivity trick we can find. I'm all for making lists and prioritizing tasks, but usually these only work once we are on a roll and have clarity on our direction. And, negative self-talk will never contribute to our success!
Here's what you really need to know about procrastination: It's a symptom, not a problem.
And you are not the problem either.
The problem is FEAR!
If you dwell on your procrastination with 'self-deprecating angst' or 'denial-by-list-making', you will never really solve the problem of fear to make real progress. You must dig deep into your psyche, journal about your emotions, and figure out what you are really afraid of in order to defeat the fear and overcome the procrastination.
To lead your business to success, you must recognize your fear, defeat your fear, and learn to embrace your fear. Here are a few tips on how to do these three things to get unstuck and not be held back anymore by fear.
Recognize Your Fear
The first step to conquering fear is simply becoming aware of it. Once you recognize and identify your fear, you can begin to work on overcoming it. Ask yourself, what am I afraid of? The answer is not usually readily available to us. Fear insidiously dwells in our subconscious mind. So, the best way to explore this and find the answer is to journal your feelings. No one else ever has to read what you've written, so just write with a stream of thought. Forget about punctuation and spelling. Just spill your guts onto the page. You might be amazed at the difference between what you thought was wrong when you began to write and the conclusion you come to through the process.
After you have journaled and think you have a better understanding of the challenges holding you back from taking action, make a list of the things you're afraid will happen. Then, go back and ask yourself some of the following questions:
"What's the possible worst-case outcome if I take this action?"
"What could I do if the worst-case happens?
"Is there anything I can do to minimize the risk of this happening?"
"Is the worst-case outcome of taking this action worth the risk?"
"What's the possible best-case outcome of taking this action?"
"Is there anything I can do to increase the odds of this happening?"
"Is the best-case outcome of taking this action worth the risk?"
"Who has done this before and how did they handle it?"
The more you confront your fears, the less power they'll have over you and the more clarity you will gain about how to proceed.
Bonus: When you need to discuss your decisions with your partner or team, you will be able to communicate in an honest, clear, and authentic way that will engender trust and confidence. That's a great leadership skill!
Defeat Your Fear
To defeat fear, you must start taking action in spite of it. This may mean putting yourself out there and networking, even if you're afraid of rejection. Or it may mean taking risks in your business, even if you're afraid of failing. Whatever it is, start small and work your way up. Once you have an idea of the big picture...the big scary project you want to tackle...just take one small step forward. Whatever the next step is, do it. Don't worry about all the other things you aren't getting done yet. Don't worry about doing it perfectly. As you are taking one step forward, some steps you thought you would need to take in the future will change. Some will drop off the list completely. You will learn by DOING. You will gain clarity and confidence by DOING. You will conquer fear by DOING.
Also, find ways to practice positive self-talk. Repeat affirmations to yourself every morning. Celebrate your wins and your progress - no matter how small - every evening. Disconnect from news that sours your mood. Stop scrolling through social media if you start to feel jealous or bad about yourself. Immerse yourself in learning new skills and engage with positive messages and messengers. If you are a person of faith, read religious texts and pray with a heart of belief in the sacredness of your journey. Keep your mind focused on the light so the fears of the dark can't attack you.
Remember, you're not alone in this journey. Entrepreneurs all have fears we're tackling. If you know other business owners, develop a friendship with some of them or join a group where you can share your struggles and get the support and encouragement you need. You will not get this from friends and family who have never owned a business. They will wish you well and try to help you, but they have no experience with entrepreneurship and often cannot understand why you would leave a secure job and take a risk to go off on your own. Talking with them may discourage you more. In fact, many of my clients hire me to be their business coach because they want someone to help them battle their fears, brainstorm ideas to gain more clarity, and assist them in developing successful strategies. They tell me how beneficial it is to be able to talk with someone who understands what they are going through. So, seek out support from other business owners and coaches to help you defeat your fears!
Embrace Your Fear
The final step is to accept your fear and use it to your advantage. Embrace your fear. Instead of seeing your fear as a weakness, see it as your strength. Fear can motivate you to give a great speech or presentation. It can propel you to work harder and push yourself further than you ever thought possible. You will be able to take risks and make decisions quickly, without second-guessing yourself. Instead of letting fear paralyze you and create procrastination, let it propel you forward. Let it inspire you to come up with innovative solutions and take bold actions. When you embrace your fear, you'll find that it can be a powerful tool for achieving success. Fear is the gateway to level up your skills as a business owner and to build a courageous brand that attracts followers, customers, and success!
We all experience fear at some point in our personal lives. And when our lives become boring, we tend to imagine fear or pursue activities to create fear. In our imaginations, we often experience fear in the forms of negative worry and anxiety. In real life, we engage in adrenaline-producing adventures. Some people watch scary movies, some ride roller coasters, and others climb mountains. And a special few start businesses and call themselves entrepreneurs.
Building a business is a fear-inducing activity. As a result, entrepreneurship can be fun and exciting! And it can also be terrifying. So learn the techniques to manage your fear because, if you don't, it will hinder your progress and possibly even prompt you to quit before you achieve success.
Always think of fear as a powerful motivator. Use it to drive you to achieve your goals. With fear as your ally, there's no limit to what you can achieve. By recognizing, defeating, and embracing your fear, you will become a better business leader. Recognizing your fear helps you understand what is holding you back from reaching our full potential. Defeating your fear allows you to move past it and take action to move forward. And finally, embracing your fear gives you the momentum to attract and create success.
By recognizing, defeating, and embracing your fear, you'll be well on your way to developing resilience, courage, and decisiveness. You will procrastinate less and take more action. You will make mistakes, learn from them, then get back up and try again. You will be leading, from a place of mental and emotional strength, to build your own profitable and enjoyable business.
The Fearless Climbers
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