Making the decision to start out on your own can be scary. Even if you are a fan of change and challenges, the uncertainty of a start-up can often be a barrier to pursuing your dream and idea. To help you overcome those barriers, here are 10 tips to conquering your start-up fears:
- Visualize your success. Create a vision of what you want to achieve, and write it down. Ask questions like "What kind of office space do I want to work in?" and "What kind of clients do I want to serve?" If you don’t imagine what success looks like, then how can you work towards it?
- Get educated. Knowledge is power. Take classes or attend seminars to learn practical skills to start, market and grow your business. “There are so many resources available for entrepreneurs starting out now it can be overwhelming,” remembers WaterTiger’s Adam Scheuer. “We have used everything from Chambers of Commerce to BBB to training programs, online offerings, textbooks, social media, family and friend mentorship, etc.”
- Eliminate “I can't”. It’s easy to put up mental barriers and tell yourself that you can’t do something. The first step to eliminating I can’t is to understand when and why you say it. Then change it to “How can I?”. It will not only eliminate a negative thought but will give you motivation to solve the problem.
- Accept confusion. Coming up with the business idea may have been simple, but the number of different hats you are going to wear as a small business owner can cause internal conflict and confusion. But it’s all part of the process of starting a business. The key is to accept the confusion then find a friend, family member or business mentor to be your sounding board, to help solve the problem.
- Know there is no "right" time. “My biggest fear when starting my first business was leaving the comforts of a traditional job – no longer having colleagues to run things by in the office, no IT person if my computer failed, and no guaranteed regular paycheque.” confesses b*Co’s Betsy Cooper. But she soon found out, “It was intimidating, but exhilarating at the same time.” Some of the most successful entrepreneurs started their businesses with little money and often with little experience, but still took the jump.
- Make decisions and stick to them. Next time you're asked to do something and you’re not sure you want to do it say “I’ll get back to you”. It’s too easy to say yes and then regret it, wasting your time, money and energy. Practicing this pause and turning down work or tasks that will not benefit you, will expand your sense of self-worth.
- Avoid feeling overwhelmed. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when starting your business. There are so many new tasks that you will have to learn and complete, as well as trying to find a balance with your new work and home life, as My Barefoot Life’s Tiffany Gordon-Wilson found out. “I started my business 3 months before my second child was born and he came to his first business meeting with me at just 2 weeks old,” she explains. “Being able to stay on top of managing my accounts and all other paperwork and networking follow-up, whilst also meeting the needs of my two young children who I care for full-time, has been a huge learning curve, but I love being my own boss.”
Next time you feel overwhelmed, write down what situation, thought or feeling prompted you to feel overwhelmed. Do this each time you are overwhelmed until you see patterns develop, and then you can take action to avoid feeling it again, whether it’s creating a new process, hiring an accountant or consultant, or seeking education.
- Practice patience. Next time you're in a traffic jam or waiting in a line, practice patience. The excitement of starting out can soon turn to frustration when things don’t seem to be progressing as fast as you expected. By practicing patience with non business tasks you will become more patient with yourself and the process of entrepreneurship.
- Ask for help. When you're most challenged and least likely to ask for help, reach out and ask. That's the time you need it most. “Utilize your local resources,” What I See Photography’s Michelle Moore echoes, “They are there to help.” When starting her business Small Business BC was the first resource she turned to, “From the initial search for a business name to growing my business and redefining the goals with a new business plan, SBBC was very informative and helpful.”
- Trust your instincts. Not everyone knows you as well as you. Entrepreneurship can be too scary for many to even contemplate. People may tell you that you’re crazy for giving up a good job, but trust what you know and take action. The more you act on your instincts, the more you will be able to trust them. As Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book Blink “There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”