Question: What early fears did you have before launching your business and how did you conquer them to move forward?
Question by: Beatrice L.
Fear of Judgment
“I launched my first business in college. At first my friends thought I was weird. In order to get over this fear of being judged, I surrounded myself with people who would support me whether my business succeeded or failed. This gave me the room to build a business without worrying about what my peers were thinking. These supporters were a key in building my business into what is is today.”
“When I founded my publishing company as as teen, I turned to family and friends of family to raise capital. It was terrifying to think about how much money I owed to people I cared about, but it was also extremely motivating. Each night, I went to sleep thinking of new ways to generate income, and each day I hit the streets running. If viewed constructively, fear can be an excellent fuel for success.”
What If I Get Sick?
“I have a chronic illness, and I was very concerned about not having any stable healthcare when I launched my business. After meditating on my decision to pursue my venture, I realized that there would always be excuses not to work for myself. I had faith in my own abilities and thought that things would naturally work out over time. It did for me and will for you.”
No Adoption at All
“Before launching my education startup, I was worried it wouldn’t be adopted by students. After dedicating so much time to building our product, I didn’t want it to launch and risk no one using it. I worried that way for quite a while and was only relieved when students began to use and it continued growing.”
Am I Too Young?
“When I was starting my business during university, I had so many people say, ‘You’re pretty young, shouldn’t you go work for a company for awhile?’ These naysayers caused me to really doubt myself and question whether I was too young to be taken seriously in business. I finally came to realize that age really is nothing but a number, and it would only be an obstacle if I made it an obstacle.”
Fear of Instability
“The greatest fear I had when starting my business was the instability of it all. The lack of revenue and not knowing whether I would be able to make ends meet. After bootstrapping and eating pasta for many months, persistence paid off and my fear passed.”
Was I Making the Right Choice?
“I quit my full time job at Ernst & Young to start my company. I had my mom yelling at me every day to get a real job. ‘What are you? Crazy?’ was all I ever heard — even after I had quit my job. But ultimately, I trusted myself, my vision and what we were going to offer the world. If you believe strongly in what you do, it’ll help you push past the fears.”
Lack of Education, Experience and Training
“In the beginning, I was worried about not having all of the skills and experience I needed before launch. I overcame this by simply starting with what I had and learning along the way. Business planning is needed, but the process of doing is the only way of conquering the fear of ‘starting.'”
Bank Account Black Hole
“My biggest fears were about money. Could I survive on my own? What if I went for six months without earning any income, and I ended up in debt, foreclosed on and feeling like a giant failure? I had a six-figure salary (that came with endless perks), so I was terrified to leave my job. I conquered the fear by reminding myself, ‘If not now, when?’ and ‘What will I regret more, leaving or staying?'”
Cold Calling Chills
“I started my business by cold calling real estate agents to find ways to help them. Each day on the phone was a brutal, painful experience. Over time, I became numb to the rejection and I realized that each ‘no’ is simply one step closer to a ‘yes.'”
Broke and Alone?
“I had a few solid jobs in college, and I had to quit them to start my first business. I knew the hours required to start a business would kill my social life and my income, and I was terrified I wouldn’t succeed and lose it all. I decided that it was a risk worth taking; however, by reminding myself that the risks won’t change, and that if I’m going to fail, better to do it sooner than later!”
Finding Others to Hop on Board
“Starting a business in college can be terrifying and exciting at the same time. I was worried about succeeding, surviving financially and achieving results for my clients. I learned quickly that I can perform much better while working with my partners. We have complementary strengths that help us get through any fears and challenges; having three diverse personalities/skill sets is a major asset.”
First-Generation Failure Fears
“I’m the oldest child of a family where I am the first woman to go to college, so the idea of leaving a stable track at a prestigious corporation like McKinsey & Company for a ‘TBD — I’m figuring it out, but I’m interested in this space and I’m sure things will work out,’ was quite the bucket of cold water to those around me. There’s nothing to do except look forward once you’ve chosen.”
Deep Fear of Failure
“Failure is a huge fear for pretty much anyone getting into business. You beat this by starting small, building on successes and asking for help.”
Throwing Out the Map
“Becoming an entrepreneur implies giving up many things that are valuable: career, status, pay, stability, the list goes on and on. Ultimately though, you know where those roads will lead. Entrepreneurship is about the journey in life; it’s about the serendipity that can lead to personal and professional rewards you never imagined. I rather ask ‘Where to?’ over ‘Are we there yet?'”
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.