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Overcoming Your Fears to Achieve Success

By Michelle Collins |

Fear. From butterflies in the stomach to a complete emotional shut-down, fear is one of the most powerful inhibitors in business. There is probably something in your business that makes you afraid.

Overcoming Fears to Achieve Business Success

Fear. From butterflies in the stomach to a complete emotional shut-down, fear is one of the most powerful inhibitors in business. There is probably something in your business that makes you afraid.

Frances McGuckin, a small business consultant, points out that there are a whole host of fears that entrepreneurs face.

So what are some of the most common fears that entrepreneurs experience?

  1. Fear of cold-calling and sales.
  2. Fear of communicating, from public speaking to business meetings.
  3. Fear of money, from not having enough to feeling nervous about billing clients and handling collections.
  4. Fear of dealing with banks.
  5. Fear of having to cut your way through government red-tape.
  6. Fear of taking risks.
  7. Fear of change.
  8. Fear of failure.
  9. Fear of success.

“It all boils down to a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. A lot of people in small business are isolated and this immediately starts to put negative connotations in their mind about whether or not they're good enough and what did they do wrong,” says McGuckin.

Fear of success

The idea of fearing success probably sounds odd. After all isn't running a successful business one of your main goals? Yet for many entrepreneurs the fear of success is very real.

Success brings bigger challenges, bigger risks. What happens there is a serious problem in a major deal that brings your whole company tumbling down around you? Also, you will have to delegate more, which means losing control. And as the size of your staff grows it can be much more difficult to get through economic downturns.

If you have a fear of public speaking, the idea of large-scale success may be overwhelming. What if you are put in the spotlight and expected to do public presentations and media interviews?

Being successful also means that you may need to make personal sacrifices, spending more time working on your business. Not only will you have to keep up with fulfilling customer needs, you will have to pay closer attention to what is going on in your industry and how you can take advantage changes before they happen.

McGuckin points out that this fear differs from others because it is unconscious. “I don't think they outwardly think I'm scared of being successful. I think it's an inner fear. If you become successful you have a reputation to keep up.”

Identify what you're afraid of

Don't store your apprehensions in the back of your mind to worry about later. If you push forward with your business, chances are at some point you will have to grapple with these issues, and by then you may think that you're in over your head.

McGuckin advises people to take a few days to think about all of their fears. As you consider each one write them down along with why you are experiencing these feelings. Once you have identified these challenges consider what possible solutions you can adopt to get over them.

Also, realize that you don't have to do this by yourself. Look for a mentor or a networking group where you can discuss these issues with people who have been there before. What were their fears and how did they overcome them?

“If you're hitting a stumbling block you've got to reach out and ask why. Very rarely can you solve the problem by yourself. What you need to do is reach out and ask for help. There are very few people in the business world who will refuse to help if you ask them. Successful people are the ones who give back to others,” says McGuckin.

Conquering the fear

Okay so you know what keeps you in a cold sweat most nights, now what should you do about it? Along with seeking a mentor or some other support system there are other ways of meeting and getting over your fears.

Confidence will come as your business grows and you get a handle on the skills you need to keep it running. McGuckin points out that starting a business in your preferred area of expertise can go a long way towards gaining this confidence as you already have a solid foundation to build on.

Another tactic that can help you is to establish short, mid, and long term goals. These goals will allow you to follow a path that you've set for yourself rather than starting a business and hoping that it guides itself in the right direction.

Editor's note: this article was originally published as part of a series in an early edition of CanadaOne.

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