This is a guest post by Lindsay Holloway, writer and editor of small business trends and technology. To read more from Lindsay, check out her articles on The Examiner.
Whether you’re building the next iPod or launching a new social network, one of the biggest steps in getting started is facing the fears that most entrepreneurs deal with. To get an idea of what fears they face, we polled a handful of hardworking entrepreneurs, who despite any fears and looming “what ifs” managed to make it through and build their small businesses. More importantly, we asked them how they conquered those fears.
- Finances: From start-up capital to monthly budgets, managing money – whether you have it or not – can make anyone’s head spin. “They’re afraid of budgeting and cash-flow projections; they’re afraid of reading their financial reports and all that financial voodoo,” says Chellie Campbell, author and instructor of an eight-week financial strategies course. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the numbers, because managing your business’s finances is probably one of the easier fears to conquer. Courses like Campbell’s, books and online programs can be a big help. If you have the funds, hire a bookkeeper or assistant.
- Time: Whether you’re afraid of having to dedicate all of your time to your business, not having enough time for your family or needing more time in the day, time isn’t always going to be on your side. Though it’s common for business owners to wear many hats, there are companies, people, software and web tools that can take some of the load off. “Be willing to let go and not micromanage everything,” says Kristopher Jones, CEO of Pepperjam, a full-service Internet marketing agency. “And hire people that complement [your] weaknesses.” It’s also important to set boundaries. Dedicate specific work hours and spaces. If you work from home, make sure your office is separate from your living space. Being able to close up “shop” at the end of the day makes a huge difference.
- Customer adoption: Your product, service or business idea must have stemmed from an unmet need or unfulfilled market that you discovered, right? So you just need to confirm the need is really there and that it can sustain a business. Do this through research, study groups, polling peers and evaluating other companies in the space. “It’s always possible that customers won’t react to your value proposition the way you anticipate,” says Romney Evans, co-founder and CEO of online jean retailer TrueJeans.com. “But improve your chances by listening to your customers and potential customers. They know what they want and need.”
- Failure: The granddaddy of entrepreneurial fears is failure. It’s also the reason many ideas never make it off the ground. Starting a business is risky, time-consuming and lots of work; these reasons contribute to the 50 percent of small businesses that fail within the first five years. But know that you’re not in it alone. “Faith in yourself and the support of others play huge factors in moving forward,” says Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax.com. “Success is not guaranteed, regardless of the most tedious planning. But connecting with people who have been through it can be positive and helpful.” And don’t forget to acknowledge accomplishments. “Celebrate the small successes,” says Drew Stevens, business author, speaker and consultant. “Small wins count more than the largest. Small wins stroke the ego and keep the focus on the present.”