Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What's the Scariest Thing in Business?

Last weekend, we saw little ghouls and goblins racing around the neighborhood in search of candy. As an adult, you likely weren't afraid. You probably didn't even jump when you were rewatching Halloween and Michael Myers jumped out to attack Jamie Lee Curtis.

In fact, as adults, we have conditioned ourselves to not fear imaginary and pretend villains or ghosts. We save our fear for real threats, most of which get recapped on the nightly news. But we also fear some intangibles that, in the end, boil down to one thing: a fear of failure.

Entrepreneurs extend that fear of failure to every element of their business:

      • "What if I don't have enough sales?"
      • "What if I can't deliver on my promises?"
      • "What if my customers don't come back?"
      • "What if I can't pay my bills?"
      • "What if we have to close the doors?"
So how can you keep from letting your fears become a prophecy? How do you prevent fear of failure from crippling you?

Ignore The Fear

First, realize that every one of those fears and questions begins with the same phrase, "What if." That phrase should scream one thing to you. The thing you fear has not come true yet. As such, you are wasting time and energy on something that has yet to pass. Wouldn't that same time and energy be better spent on growing your business? Focus on the real challenges at your doorstep. Prepare for the sale you need to close tomorrow. Finish the marketing copy for the campaign you are launching next week. Spend some quality time on product development. Do all of those things instead of worrying about and fearing things that may or may never come true.

Channel The Fear

Do you remember in The Waterboy when Henry Winkler's Coach Klein encouraged Bobby Boucher to use everyone that had ever insulted him as "Tackling Fuel?" (If you don't, it's available on YouTube) For business owners, the fear of failure can serve as your tackling fuel. Channel that fear into motivation. Run from it. Fight against it. If you're successful, you might find yourself headed to your own Bourbon Bowl.

Embrace The Fear

If you can't fully ignore your fears or channel it into your personal tackling fuel, perhaps you can and should embrace the fear. As an entrepreneur, the potential for failure has some reality to it. Whatever percentage your latest statistic shows, the reality is that many (even a majority of) small businesses still fail within the first five years. So understanding that failure may be your future reality should empower you. In fact, it should encourage you to fail faster, if that is the business's destiny, so that you can move on to your next business and next project. If you aren't certain of the failure, you can embrace the potential for failure and plan worst-case-scenario plans and contingency plans. Just don't let that consume your entire workday. Make your Plan B and move on with the business.

Whatever the underlying reasons that you fear failure, that fear only damages you when you let it hurt your business. Whether you ignore it, channel it, or embrace it, the fear cannot control you. You must find a way to work past it and maintain focus on growing your business and moving forward.

What else do you fear? How can you keep it from paralyzing you?

Image credit: AdinaVoicu via Pixabay