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Fear: It’s What’s Holding Entrepreneurs Back

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In one way or another, fear affects everyone’s decision-making from time to time. If you’re a full-time entrepreneur, then you probably felt some fear when you decided to quit your job and commit yourself to making your new business a success. The thing is, fear doesn’t go away when you make the leap.

In fact, entrepreneurs are continually facing challenges that can inspire fear and dampen their ability to grow their businesses—if they let that fear rule. If you’ve been thinking about starting a business but were too afraid, or if you have a business and you’re letting fear get in the way, here’s what you need to know about the impact of fear on your success and happiness.  

What Do We Fear?

You might not be aware of your fear. A lot of it might be more subconscious than conscious. Most of us fear similar things, and unless we desensitize ourselves to certain fears, we feel uncomfortable and try to avoid the stimulus that causes us to feel afraid.

Here are some of the common fears entrepreneurs face on a daily basis:

  • Fear of failure/inadequacy
  • Fear of change/the unknown
  • Fear of loss
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of rejection

Just about every entrepreneur at some point is afraid of their business failing, or of embarrassing themselves in front of potential investors, or of making changes to normal patterns. Entrepreneurs who manage to push past these fears and act anyway are those who succeed.

How Does Fear Work?

Fear is a physical reaction to potential threats. While it’s rare to come face-to-face with primal threats like an angry bear anymore, our bodies still respond to threats of all types by flooding the body with hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen. This is designed to give us more strength and awareness.

It is, essentially, survival mode. That “fight or flight” response is very helpful during moments of actual danger, but can be actively detrimental when building a business. Pushing past this embedded physical response is something entrepreneurs need to learn—they need to learn to make logical decisions when confronted with illogical feelings.

“I think fearless is having fears but jumping anyway.” – Taylor Swift

Overcoming Fear of Failure in Entrepreneurship

For most entrepreneurs (or would-be entrepreneurs), fear of failure is the biggest obstacle to success. Just ask the 57% of Fortune 500 companies that first emerged during downturns in the market. Fear of the bear market didn’t hold them back—it helped their founders catapult to success.

That said, fear can keep you from getting started at all for fear you’ll fail. It feeds into procrastination, and the tendency to make safe choices that don’t advance the business, or worse, making no choices at all.

Overcoming the fear of failure means actually taking the scary step of embracing it. Of realizing that failure is an important part of growth. You need to be able to explore different options in order to find out which ones work best—and you have to forgive yourself for failures along the way. Successful entrepreneurs don’t look at failures as a waste of time or a signal that they aren’t good enough—they learn from those failures and use them as motivation to succeed. This isn’t an easy mindset to cultivate, but it can ultimately be life-changing.

Using Fear as a Tool

Is fear holding you back? You can change that reality. Fear can be damaging if it’s allowed to make your decisions for you. Fortunately, it can also be used as a tool to enhance your decisions if you harness it properly. Think about it. Fear is a powerful force. We need it to make common sense decisions, and to avoid danger—we needed it to stay alive for much of history. The decisions we make in modern times are rarely life-or-death situations, but the brain often treats them as such.

One way you can turn fear into a productive tool is to use it as a signal. When you feel fear and hesitate to move forward, take a moment to consider what’s going on. Is your fear simply trying to avoid change and new situations? Using fear as a signal, you’re doing something you SHOULD be doing instead of a signal to turn back can help desensitize you to fear and push you beyond your normal boundaries.

That doesn’t mean you should jump into any situation headfirst without considering the potential risks and rewards, but it can help you turn the dialogue of fear around and help you make empowering decisions.

“Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, perseverance, and facing your fears.” – Gillian Anderson

How do you control your fears while moving ahead in life? Let us know in the comments below!

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.

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Entrepreneurs

6 Smart Moves to Grow Your Business and Your Profits

Practical strategies that companies use to guarantee long-term growth while increasing profitability

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How Entrepreneurs Can Fortify Their Startups Against Fraud

Businesses that neglect workplace fraud detection are leaving themselves open to catastrophic losses

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Fraud in the workplace is a problem of gigantic proportions. Everything from a little light skimming of the cash register to fraud at a corporate level represents extreme risks that organizations need to guard against. (more…)

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Lessons We Can All Learn From Martin Luther King Jr.’s Leadership

While reflecting on the magnificent life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I began to uncover what truly made Dr. King such a powerful leader

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While reflecting on the magnificent life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I began to uncover what truly made Dr. King such a powerful leader. Many revere him for the change he brought forth so it’s no wonder that he was heavily influenced by the man who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. He embodied that statement on the deepest level and lead people through one of the most challenging yet historic times in our nation. 

But what was it that made Dr. King’s movement so different than the rest? A quality that transcends ego and unites a people so divided? 

My greatest and most moving discovery while studying the life of Dr. King was the very answer to our question. 

Yes, he had the personality to be a leader, yes he had the bravery to use his voice, yes he evoked REAL change in government and policies, but the manifestation of all those comes from his willingness to lead a movement truly rooted in consciousness. 

A peaceful approach

Dr. King was continuously met with frustration, hate, and even violence by both law enforcement and those who wanted to fight for equality through violence. But the more violent things became, the more he dug his heels into a peaceful approach. Dr. King’s unwavering faith in the power to lead with peace and not violence is undoubtedly why his legacy is such a pillar of our nation still to this day. It is easier to fight.

Hate, anger and separateness from one another are primitive emotions on the emotional scale of well being but It takes awareness, understanding and elevated consciousness to move from a place of peace and understanding. Dr. King knew that we all have access to these states of higher consciousness and that our true power lies in a peaceful approach.

He is an example of the truest essence of our consciousness in this human experience. How to truly love your neighbor as yourself. 

Conscious compassion

Even the strongest opponents are human. Meet hate with love + compassion for the enemy” he said. It wasn’t his resistance to violence that made him a peacemaker, but rather his commitment to keeping compassion and connection to all humanity at the forefront of his movement. A profound understanding that underneath all the hate, violence and discrimination, we are all one. We all come from the same source and we are all human.

A conscious king

A man of his position, his power, his following could have been easily swayed by the human temptations of the ego. But he remained steadfast in his cause to bring forth real change. He understood on the deepest level that we are truly a stronger force in the universe when we move as one unit, with one mind, and one goal. That the separation from one another is the weakness of humanity. That our strength is in those things that unite us all, the qualities that give us life.

His success was in uniting not just the people of America but the consciousness of America.

No matter our gender, or our social class or our color, we all love, and we all seek peace. We all feel joy and happiness, we all want to be met with compassion and understanding. 

His cause went far beyond the need for physical freedom and equal rights. His cause was for freedom of mind, freedom of heart, freedom to be one. 

Lead with love

In his last speech he said, “I may not get there with you, but we AS A PEOPLE will get to the promise land”. And we will. At some point, we will inevitably come back to this oneness that we all come from.

The truth is? We don’t know when our last day is. Our last march. Our last speech. So this Martin Luther King Jr. Day I ask you, what will your legacy be? Are you leading a life founded in the principles of Dr. King’s movement, founded in the higher consciousness of humanity? Every moment is an opportunity to love, to show compassion, to bring forth peace and in the words of Dr. King “The time is always right to do what is right”.

Dr. King said, “I’m here to remind you, we’ve come a longggg way, but there is still work to be done”. 

And I’m here to remind you this Martin Luther King Jr. day in 2024 that we HAVE come a longggg way, but there is still work to be done. 

His fight is our fight. His mind is our mind. His spirit is our spirit. Rooted in the consciousness of all humanity. We are all one. And when we embrace the understanding of that, we will truly say

“Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, We are Free at Last”.

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