Reader Sarah wrote in with this question:
What I would love to hear more about was how you made the leap to self-employment. Beyond what’s written on your “About” page, were you ever scared that you wouldn’t be able to make things work financially as a blogger? Did you ever wish that you’d gone back to either the traditional start up world or a regular day job? -Sarah Russell
Fear is the biggest hurdle any entrepreneur faces. Business strategy, marketing, technology and relationships and all important, but fear is what makes most people quit before they succeed (and keeps far more people from getting started in the first place).
I’ve struggled with fear of failure, fear of what other people will think, fear that I’m not good enough and fear that what I’m trying to do isn’t possible. Sometimes this fear has been crippling.
On plenty of occasions, I thought about quitting. For about the first year of blogging, I had a constant internal dialog running that questioned every move I made and constantly made me wonder if I could make it. It wasn’t until I started earning some significant income that the internal voice turned more positive.
Luckily, I had some good friends like Baker and Karol who were there to talk me off the ledge. I credit our weekly mastermind meetings with keeping me focused long enough to succeed. Without them and that structured interaction, I very likely would be doing something different today.
That’s the thing about trying something as hard as starting a business: most of us will quit long before we give ourselves enough time to succeed.
Fear is usually to blame.
Here are a few tips for dealing with fear as an entrepreneur:
- Build a support group.
- Seek out case studies for inspiration.
- Remove negative influences.
This made a huge difference for me, as it has for dozens of other successful entrepreneurs I now know.
You need a support group of other people in similar stages of doing what you’re trying to do. Don’t be shy: reach out to a few people you think would be a good fit and ask them to meet weekly. Create light penalties to not showing up, and kick anyone out who misses two meetings in a row. In each meeting, focus on what you did over the past week, what you need help with and what you plan to do over the next week.
Also seek mentors (formal or informal) who are farther along than you. A little perspective from someone who has experience can go a long way.
I immersed myself in the stories of other people who had already succeeded and created my own story from those patterns. Hearing about other people’s success can show you you’re not crazy.
When I started blogging, I knew no successful bloggers personally, and had only read about a few success stories. Seeking out other people’s stories was an important step because it helped me see what was possible.
Think about what you’re trying to do. In the grand scheme of things, how crazy is it, really? You’re not trying to build a rocket to mars here. You’re trying to do something fairly reasonable. Others have succeeded before you. It won’t be easy, but other people are doing more incredible things all the time.
It’s hard not to be scared when people around you are telling you you’re crazy and that you should lower your expectations. Sometimes you need to spend less time with the negative nellies around you until you’re more secure.
Fear is normal. As entrepreneurs, we need to address it head on or it will eventually get to you.
Are you ever scared as hell that you won’t succeed?
How do you handle it?