So, you’re considering going into small business, but find yourself haunted in the midnight hours by one or two crippling fears.
Welcome to the club! Venturing out on your own to join the rough-and-tumble world of entrepreneurship is scary by definition. You aren’t the first to be scared, and you won’t be the last.
The good news is that fear is a perfectly natural emotion to feel at the start of any significant new enterprise, and that you can both conquer it and use the motivational energy it provides to your advantage.
Let’s take a closer look at four of the most common fears faced by small business owners, along with some tips for overcoming them.
1. Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is something that haunts most of us, but it can be especially tough on small business owners owing to the unique obstacles they face. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), only half of all new small businesses survive five years or more, with about one-third making it 10 years.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that the contributions made by small businesses to the U.S. economy are enormous. Just consider a few key statistics: 28 million small businesses in America are responsible for 54% of all U.S. sales, and small businesses provide 55% of all jobs in this country. Millions of hardworking Americans are employed because of the bravery, vision, and hustle of small business owners just like you.
Remind yourself of these truths on a daily basis, and read as often as you can about everyday entrepreneurs who faced and overcame fears similar to yours.
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2. Fear of Debt
Financing is the lifeblood of small business, but you can’t get financing without going into debt. For this reason, it’s imperative that you find the best kind of debt possible for your small business.
Many new small business owners turn to business credit cards as a viable source of financing when they’re first getting their companies up and running. Sixty-five percent of small business use them regularly.
A business credit card offers you a revolving line of credit with which to cover your business expenses. This means that as soon as you pay it off, the credit becomes available again. It’s a great way to train yourself to handle the responsibilities of debt without having to borrow a lump sum, as with a traditional bank loan.
Business credit cards are also handy for short-term emergencies as well as giving you a supply of working capital. They’ll simplify your expenses when tax time rolls around, help you build a strong business credit score, and let you keep your personal and business finances separate.
The key to easing your fears about debt is educating yourself on what financing is available to you, along with the terms and conditions of each opportunity. Thanks to the rise of alternative lending, there are more financing choices for startups than ever before. Do your homework, and you’ll start to see debt as a tool for your enrichment and success rather than a burden.
3. Fear of Selling
As entrepreneurs, we’d all like to be personable, confident, eloquent salespeople right out of the gate. But most of us are not, and some of us are even terrified at the prospect of trying to sell our products and ideas to strangers.
Levi King, the CEO of Nav, used to be one of the latter. Selling didn’t come naturally to him, and although he read a lot of books on the subject, it wasn’t until he simply buckled down and started making phone calls that he got over his nervousness and started building a talent he never knew he had.
“I viewed making these calls as sheer practice,” writes King. “It didn’t matter if I fumbled for words, lost my train of thought, or came across as an amateur, because I was an amatuer.”
Selling is like anything else—the more you make yourself do it, the better you’ll become. Reading books and articles and attending seminars on the subject can provide invaluable insights into the process, but at the end of the day you just have to put your head down and go for it.
4. Fear of Being Your Own Boss
Being your own boss sounds amazing in theory, but being in charge of everything and finding the self-motivation to keep on top of it comes with a high set of risks. Again, education and careful planning are key.
One of your first priorities as a new small business owner should be writing and maintaining a business plan. Your business plan will act as your basic blueprint during those crucial early days when you’re getting started, and should grow and evolve along with your business. It’ll help you prioritize your goals, track individual tasks and responsibilities, and get and stay inspired.
Thankfully, there are plenty of great tools out there to guide you as you begin. Tools like LivePlan are an excellent way to develop a monetization model, figure out your target market, strategize about customer relationships, and keep track of key financials like monthly revenues.
Reach out to other small business owners in your community, and take advantage of networking events in your area to build a team of supportive, knowledgeable mentors and peers as you move ahead.
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