We’re in the middle of the entrepreneurial age. New business owners are popping up in every corner of our lives. It’s easy to feel as though you’re the only one missing the secret formula to success.
Truth is, you can have all the best entrepreneurial ideas and business plans in the world; but if you possess a self-limiting mindset and allow fear to dictate it, and your actions, you’ve already set yourself up for defeat.
Before we can delve into the how-to of building up your entrepreneurial empire, it’s fundamental that you establish a concrete foundation for it. Part of this foundation stems from shifting your current mindset, and when doing so, you will confront one of your mind’s most inhibiting counterparts: fear.
You might think creating a successful and strong entrepreneurial mind is as easy as turning over your affirmation card each morning (guilty) or listening to a little daily pep-talk podcast (guilty, again). Those habits are certainly important in maintaining a positive mentality, and they do constitute part of a successful entrepreneurial mind. However, they work best when used in conjunction with self-improvement techniques that target the root causes of negative mental habits and emotions like fear.
Fear has always been a recurring theme in every conversation I have with wantrepreneurs. People worry that their meticulously cultivated business plans will go awry; that someone else will beat them to it and do it better; that they’ll be rejected; or they fear the start-up process itself.
Too often we allow our fears to result in missed opportunities and disappointment. We let it lead our course of action to a place where we feel more comfortable, ultimately leading ourselves in the wrong direction.
The first step to knocking fear off its high horse is to dissect it and give it a new meaning. Fear is simply an acronym for:
The next step is to put into action a few techniques that will allow you to approach and overcome your fears. Whether your thoughts instigate a constant niggling feeling, negative self-perception or something far more severe, you can start to minimise their effects by using three simple approaches.
From Justification to Self-realisation
Often, it’s hard to notice that statements such as: ‘I just finished work, I deserve to stop and relax’, ‘I haven’t any spare time’, or my personal favourite, ‘it’s just not the right time’ are self-justification and rationalisation techniques. This justification thought process is protective mechanism used to stop yourself from taking the next step in your business endeavours. It works to minimise the personal guilt you feel when you allow fear to intercept your ability to drive your entrepreneurial dreams.
It’s moments like these that you have to stand up for yourself, even if that means standing up to yourself.
When you start to give yourself reasons for why you couldn’t complete certain tasks or begin to justify your outcomes, take a moment to stop and become self-aware of your thoughts and their patterns. Notice that when you stand up to yourself and are honest, that you can pick up on when your mind attempts to justify your lack of action and achievement. You’ll be able to equate these ‘justifications’ and ‘reasons’ to what they truly are: excuses. Excuses are a coping mechanism we often use to mask our fear in an effort to put off taking the leap towards our business goals.
When you can identify your mental habits, you can take the next step. Replace your excuses with positive actions such as; ‘I’ll set achievable goals each day and reap the rewards’, ‘I’ll have a look at my planner and organise my time so that I have more of it’ and, ‘there’s no better time than today to take the next step to my destination. Tomorrow I’ll thank myself for it’.
Not only will you be starting to take away some of the power that fear has over your thoughts and mental wellbeing, you’ll be putting into practice positive mental habits- an essential part of the foundation for successful entrepreneurial minds.
2. Facing Your Fears
I’m sure you’ve all been told to jot down your thoughts when your mind becomes chaotic, but it truly can help to dissipate the incessant thoughts that fear elicits.
Find the time to write out your fears – many of you may only have one, whilst others have more.
Once you’ve written them down, approach each one individually and ask yourself these next three questions:
Why does this fear scare me so much? (think: is there something in your past that keeps catching up to you? Has someone you know caused it?)
How does this fear impact me in my current life and business?
If I don’t face this fear now, what will my life be like in 10 to 15 years?
An example of this activity could be:
My fear: Never being able to work for myself.
Why does this scare me?
I’m afraid that my life will be consumed by the stress of meeting other people’s deadlines.
I won’t be able to take the time off when I need it most and structure my life in a way that keeps me happy and healthy, both physically and mentally.
I’ve watched the people I love become worn out and mentally defeated. They suffer chronic stress because of gruelling work hours.
How does this fear impact me presently in my life and business?
It’s making me second guess my ability to be successful and create a business that will gain traction and allow for self-employment.
Since I second guess myself, I’ve stopped taking risks or putting time aside to work on my goals because I believe they will never truly come to fruition.
If I don’t face this fear now, what will my life be like in 10 to 15 years?
I’ll be in the exact position I fear most. Working for someone else in a job I don’t enjoy and reaching my income ceiling.
I’ll have a negative mindset and no foundation for entrepreneurial growth.
Each day I’ll be wishing I could have made a change earlier on.
You’ll find that by hashing out the intricacies of your fears, they’ll often provide the motivation and answer to overcoming them.
3. From Bad to Worse to Better
Since we spend so much time obsessing over what ‘could be’, we may as well jump into the future and start confronting our false expectations in order to limit their ability to appear so real.
Here’s some sound, yet unconventional- and slightly counterintuitive advice - to put into practice:
Think of your present situation. What are things like right now, before you’ve actually activated any of your business strategies or ideas?
Now think of the worst outcome that could occur once you do take that first step into the entrepreneurial world - and do so in all its dreary detail.
Think of how you would respond to, and deal with, said situation (you can even write down your action plan).
Accept the outcome and how you are able to respond to it.
Now I want you to put aside your worst-case scenario and think of the absolute best possible outcome you could achieve if you gave your entrepreneurial dream a go. Surely the best outcome is great enough that you’d gladly risk what you fear most, even if there was only the slightest chance that success would occur?
Often your worst-case scenario is landing straight back where you started. Every entrepreneur needs to be prepared for what they fear most, and creating a strong mindset, equipped with tools and techniques to get you out of a rut, will ensure you can jump back up and give it another shot.
Often you will find that you need to take a step back and really break down your negative thoughts without anxiety or worry, but with a critical and introspective eye. Doing so will allow you to push yourself towards self-improvement and ultimately entrepreneurial accomplishment.
By recognising your biggest business fears, taking the time to understand why and how they affect you and confronting them, allows you to make peace with the fact that you don’t always have control over what the future brings. There is only the present moment and your ability to make of it what you will. When you acknowledge your thoughts and reconcile with them, you can begin to let them- and your fears – go. Make the decision to leave them in the past and not carry their burden into the future.
Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Brain Revolution: The Frontiers of Mind Research, fittingly addresses our ability to overcome mental obstacles, ‘just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, your fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if you explore them’.
By confronting your fears, you can diffuse the power they hold over you and instead use them to motivate you. You’ll become better equipped to deal with future issues that may come your way – something that will have a profound impact upon your entrepreneurial success.
Alice is currently studying writing at University and is intrigued by all things entrepreneurial. Each month she will be providing you all a personalised blog dedicated to the struggles we all face as we figure out who we are and our place in the world. Alice is a beautiful writer who is in the same shoes as you right now and wants to share her journey as she figures out where her passions lie and the journey to finding her dream life.