Have you been thinking about starting your business and becoming your own boss lately? Maybe it’s been on your mind for years. So… why haven’t you done it? Fear! There are many, very justified, fears that entrepreneurs experience when they’re starting out.
It’s important that these fears are all addressed before you even set pen to paper to create your first business plan. That’s because, if you go into anything with fear and doubt, you’ll already have planted the seeds of failure. Self-doubt can cripple entrepreneurial minds – so it’s time to snap out of it and get cracking!
We’ve tackled the seven top fears of new entrepreneurs, to help you realise your way to startup success…
I Don’t Know Where To Start
This is possibly THE most crippling fear for any entrepreneur. You know in your heart that you want to have your own business, but you don’t know what to do, or how to start going about it.
The first thing you can do to counteract this fear is think about your key skills. Do you have a lot of niche industry knowledge in a particular sector? Are you great at digital marketing? Perhaps you’re a real people person who loves bringing others together.
Your main strengths are what will drive your business. Think about how you can use them to come up with a potential business idea Creative people could think about becoming a photographer, for example, or logical people might want to develop a business strategy consultancy.
The next step is to research. Lots, and lots, and LOTs of research! Read everything you can get your hands on that’s related to your industry and your planned startup. Take a look at the success stories and list the common themes – why were they successful? What did they all do in their first 3, 6, and 12 months of operation?
After that, find similar companies that have failed – and make the same list. You’ll begin to recognise trends, have a fair idea of your competition, and be more easily able to identify a market niche for your business.
I Don’t Know Enough
With all the research you’re going to do, by following the point above, you’ll already learn a lot more than you expected!
More than that, you need to consider what it is that you feel you don’t know enough about. Is it the standard processes of operation for similar businesses? Is it how to manage the administrative side of the company? What about how to go about a product launch?
When you break down your knowledge into a list, it’s much easier to find the gaps. Take some time to jot down a flow chart of your business vision on paper, from the very first steps (like registering a business) right through to where you want to be in a year’s time.
This map will help you to identify which steps you don’t know much about – so you can create a plan of attack to dispel your fear! Once you know what’s holding you back, you’ll be able to move forward.
I’m Not Good Enough
Well, stop right there, cowboy!
If you tell yourself you’re not good enough, you won’t be. It’s a really simple truth that you need to accept and recognise before success is even possible for your business.
You wouldn’t have that yearning to be your own boss if you didn’t think that you could do it. Some people aren’t born entrepreneurs – and that’s totally OK. They’re the ones you’re going to hire in the future. People who aren’t born visionaries or leaders are most happy with direction, structure, and a clear-cut job role.
You’re already an outside-the-box thinker.
I’m Worried People Will Think It’s A Stupid Idea
Here’s a question: do YOU think it’s a stupid idea?
We’re going back to the good old list-making exercise here: write a list of all the reasons this could be the best idea you’ve ever had.
Now, list all of the reasons it’s a stupid idea.
Finally, list all of the objections you expect to face from other people.
Take a look at this sheet of paper. If your list of your own stupid reasons is longer than your good reasons, then sure – you need to have a think about how to re-frame your business concept to ensure success. If your list of good reasons is longer than your stupid ones, then you’re already in a good position.
With the last list, the objections from others, write a response to counter every single one. For example, “It’s too big a financial risk when you’ve got a family,” might be answered with “I have a year’s salary saved and a solid business plan for investment”. Being able to counter the fear of what other people might think is a useful technique for later on down the line, when you’re pitching clients Dragon’s Den-style and need to justify why your business is fabulous.
I Don’t Know How To Get Funding
This comes down to research, again! There are so many articles out there about funding your new business that you’re bound to find useful resources.
The types of funding you could research for your startup include:
- Seeder funding
- Business angel investments
- Bank loans
- Peer-to-peer lending
- Side jobs for additional income
- Local and national grants and bursaries
If you’re still working for someone else while you’re preparing to launch your business, you can also start to prepare your business bank account right now. Filter off a bit of spare cash every week into a separate account and the pennies soon add up. Even if you think you don’t have any spare cash, try a penny jar at home – whenever you have loose change, drop it in the jar. Every time you get change back from a currency note, put it in the jar. If you spot twenty pence hiding in the sofa cushions, put it in the jar.
I’m Scared I Won’t Get Any Customers
Hopefully by now you’ll have realised that research is your best weapon. Market research is vital to your business success. If you’re worried that nobody will buy your product or service, have a think about why you think that could be the case.
Counter every why they wouldn’t buy with a why they would buy and voila! You have your marketing USPs (unique selling points).
If you’re scared because you don’t know how to find your customers, it’s time to learn about marketing techniques. There are some great free, and cheap, ways to market your startup, such as social media and local networking meetings, which are a great starting point for success.
Before you do a single jot of marketing, however, you need to know who you’re targeting. Create three or four ‘ideal customer profiles’ to help. Imagine characters who would be your dream client: their age demographic, their industry, their buying power, and their social influence. Build a clear picture of each character, and use these profiles when developing your marketing strategy.
Doing this will help you to target your marketing efforts, leading to greater reward for less investment. This is because you won’t need to ‘scatter gun’ your marketing to all and sundry – just those demographics who you want to be your customers.
I Might Fail
Yes, you might.
There are plenty of reasons why you won’t, though. For a start, if you worry that you’re going to fail at anything, you’d never get a single thing done, ever. Think about the things that you do every day that could go wrong: you might spill that cup of tea you’re drinking. Did you? No. You probably didn’t because you weren’t thinking that you would.
Failure is a mindset. When you’re starting out, you’re going to fail. You’re going to find you’ve made mistakes when creating your new business. Instead of seeing this as all-out failure and a sign that you need to stop trying to be an entrepreneur, list all of the things you’ve learned from it. Could you have reacted to a situation differently? Did you not move fast enough for the market? Was your research not thorough enough?
You’ll only fail if you give in or give up. Everything else is just a lesson.
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