Deeper Weekend 2014

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jen-pic-2Running a business is a scary thing.

This was the topic of a recent thread in Thriveal’s private online community. A member was seeking the wisdom and input from others on whether or not that still, small voice should, in fact, be told to shut up or serve as a warning that something needed attention. I love the transparency in our community.

It turns out that fear is pretty common. We fear forgetting something really important that will impact our customers. We fear losing a big customer. We fear hiring the wrong person. We fear change. We fear trying something new and it being a big flop. We fear technology making our jobs obsolete. We fear being sued. We fear running out of new ideas. We fear sharing our ideas because someone else might steal it. We fear not knowing the answer.

But wouldn’t we have fear even if we were not business owners? If you still worked for someone else, would you fear getting a poor performance review? Or upsetting a coworker? Or being embarrassed in front of your boss? Or getting fired? Or not getting credit?

Being a business owner takes tremendous courage. It took courage to start your business and it will take even more to keep at it when times are really hard. You’ll have to have some difficult conversations and make some very hard choices. Business ownership is not for the weak.

What Are You Afraid Of?
Guess what? Many of our most common fears can be reduced with a little planning and strategy to reduce the risks that scare us the most. Maybe it will help to think of each thing that scares you, one by one, and make a plan for how to handle it. But you have to be honest when answering the tough question: What are you afraid of?

Let’s look at a few common fears and what could be done to alleviate them.

Are you scared of forgetting something for your customer? You can develop processes that force you to be reminded of when to complete a task. Thriveal members are great at helping each other work through processes and discussing the best uses of CRM systems and project management technology.

Are you afraid of hiring the wrong person? I have written about hiring and its importance before, but the best thing you can do to lessen the risk of a bad hiring decision is to is slow down and get help from others.

Are you afraid of cashflow issues? If money is really tight, it may take some time, but most of us have the ability to create income and cut spending. Planning ahead goes a LONG way. Dave Ramsey has the best resources on money management (in my opinion) and I wholeheartedly agree with his NO DEBT stance – not because we have done this right, but because we haven’t.

Are you afraid of a lawsuit? You cannot control what others do. BUT…you can do your work with integrity and have the right insurance. (My husband and I have differing views about insurance.) Of course you can also make sure you get contracts in writing. While not a guarantee, proper client selection goes a long way to avoid drama as well. Do you have an onboarding process by which you properly vet new customers?

Obviously there are many other kinds of fears we all have. But please don’t let your fears stop you from being great. Be honest with yourself about what scares you and then do what you can to minimize those risks. And then go serve your customers the best that you possibly can. You are a person, and you will mess up. So what? Will you melt in a corner or will you know more than you did before? Experience is a tough teacher, but such a good one. This is your opportunity to become BETTER.

Any brave readers willing to share your fears or tell us how you get a good night’s sleep and keep the fears at bay? Be sure to leave a comment!

  • On 01-21-2013 at 2:30 pm, Kevin McCoy said:

    It sounds weird, but how about fear of success….what if I build something that becomes everything I dreamed. Will I be able to live up to that? Do I even deserve that?

  • Jennifer Blumer

    On 01-21-2013 at 4:11 pm, Jennifer said:

    Kevin, I think you are absolutely correct. I wondered if I should add that or not. I think it’s a big issue (and very not at all uncommon!) and I wasn’t sure if I could do it justice in this post. I think once you are successful, people expect more of you, and that is VERY frightening for some. Failure becomes even riskier.

    Great observation.

  • On 01-21-2013 at 5:00 pm, Kirk Bowman said:

    I think one of the deeper fears for an entrepreneur is the responsibility to your team members and their families to make the next payroll, even in a business with a strong cash position.

    • Jennifer Blumer

      On 01-21-2013 at 5:05 pm, Jennifer said:

      True. One of the Thriveal members did mention the fear of letting family down. That is quite a burden.

      Thanks for the comment Kirk.

  • On 01-21-2013 at 7:40 pm, Magen Smith, CPA said:

    The longer I am a business owner, the more I am learning to lean into the fear. Although I give HUGE props to Thriveal for teaching me that lesson and supporting me when the fear gets overwhelming. I am also realizing how much responsibility comes with customers. We think that we need 20 customers to be free of our day job, but really, that is MORE people depending on us every day. It is a lot to take on.


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