Being an entrepreneur is totally scary.
Trust me, I’ve felt the same crippling fear that many entrepreneurs experience.
When I started my first company, I had so many what-ifs swirling around in my head. What if my company fails? What if people laugh at me? What if I can’t get customers? What if no one believes in me? What if I don’t believe in myself?
Sometimes, I wondered if that fear I felt was a sign I just wasn’t cut out for starting my own company. But here’s the thing: fear is a natural human emotion. Everyone feels fear, especially entrepreneurs who are taking huge risks and striking out on their own.
The key isn’t to magically make your fears go away or pretend they don’t even exist.
In order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to acknowledge, address, and conquer your fears so they don’t control your life.
Here are 5 main fears every entrepreneur must overcome in order to succeed in business (and how to start conquering them):
1. Fear of failure
Fear of failure is one of the very most common phobias, especially among new and aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, 33% of Americans admit that the fear of failure holds them back from starting a business. But despite how terribly final it may feel, failure isn’t the opposite of success. Failure is a crucial part of success.
Countless successful people and businesses faced a ton of failures on their road to success. Dyson created 5,126 failed prototypes before finally inventing the bagless vacuum cleaner. Abraham Lincoln lost the Senate race of 1858. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school’s varsity basketball team the first time he tried out. Failing doesn’t make you a failure. Giving up does.
In fact, failing can actually end up being the very thing that sets you up for success. Studies show that failing in the past makes entrepreneurs more than twice as likely to succeed in the future. Rebrand your failures in light of that fact – you didn’t fail, you simply made yourself twice as likely to succeed!
Ask yourself: If I move forward with a potential opportunity, what is the worst-case scenario that could happen if I fail? Can you live with this? Would life go on? Start viewing failure as a chance to learn and grow.
2. Fear of uncertainty
Resisting change is a natural impulse. We tend to default to what’s easiest and most comfortable. You know – if you stay at your boring dead-end job, at least you know exactly what your day-to-day will look like. If you stay in your cruddy apartment, at least you won’t have to pack your things. If you stay in a bad relationship, at least you’re not alone.
In order for things to get better, they’re going to have to change.
Fear of the unknown is so common. But the unknown is only unknown until you know it, and the only way to know it is to move forward and discover it. Take risks and move forward with confidence, trusting that you’ll figure things out along the way.
Acknowledge that more often than not, life’s going to throw you curveballs. The only thing certain in life is uncertainty. But as long as you stay resilient and keep moving forward the best you can, you’ll grow, adapt, and become even stronger than you were before.
Think back on the times when things didn’t go according to plan. In those situations, how did you adapt and press forward? What skills did you use to succeed, despite the circumstances?
3. Fear of rejection
On some level, every entrepreneur is at least a little afraid of rejection. When you’re about to make your pitch to investors, you might worry they’ll laugh you out of the room. When you’re about to ask an acquaintance for advice on starting a business, you might be nervous they’ll tell you you’re dumb for trying. When you’re trying to sell your product or service to your customers, you might be afraid no one will buy.
In any of those instances, the worst thing that can happen is that they reject you and say no. But for some reason, that can sound super scary in the moment.
In business, you’re going to face your fair share of rejection. But I’m going to let you in on a secret: that’s actually a good thing.
You don’t need everyone to say “yes” to you. You only need the right people to say “yes” to you.
As you search for that perfect business partner, that ideal investor with deep pockets, that excellent mentor who has total faith in you, you’re going to encounter a lot of people who aren’t a good fit. But in order to find out whether they are or not, you’re just going to have to ask. Don’t take it personally when you get a “no”. You don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t believe in you or your vision. Let it roll off your back, and be grateful that they didn’t waste your time any further with a “maybe” or a non-committal “sure.”
And remember – just because someone rejects you doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to succeed. As Dita Von Teese says, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
To help overcome your fear, put yourself in situations where you may get rejected. Ask a mentor or expert that you’ve been wanting to learn from for virtual coffee or make that sales call you’ve been dreading to make. The more you get rejected, or are faced with these situations, the more you learn that it will be okay.
4. Fear of not being good enough
Sometimes, the hardest person to please isn’t an investor or a customer or a partner or a parent.
So many entrepreneurs struggle with believing they really are good enough to start a business, be successful, and even find happiness. Even when they do experience success, they feel as though they don’t deserve it.
I still experience feelings of self-doubt from time to time. It’s hard to stay positive and confident in the face of uncertainty – and any setbacks can feel devastating when you already question your abilities.
Here’s my advice to those who struggle with that same fear:
Invest in relationships. Find mentors, peers, and friends who see your potential clearly and genuinely believe you deserve to be where you are. Their belief in you will help give you the confidence to pursue your dreams.
Master your emotions. Fear and self-doubt feel like facts, but really they’re merely emotions that are only as powerful as we allow them to be. Acknowledge those feelings for what they are and try not to let them distort your reality. Learning how to recognize fear for what it is, can help you master it.
Stop comparing yourself. Embrace what makes you different and focus on becoming the best version of yourself. Everyone has their own special talents – the key is to find yours and execute on what you’re good at.
The fear of not being good enough is a mindset. No amount of external success will fix it – it’s got to come from within. Self-reflection, supportive relationships and positive self-talk will help you overcome this common fear.
5. Fear of success
You may not think you’re afraid of success – but it’s actually more common than you’d think.
As you move forward, you’re faced with all kinds of new challenges you’ve never encountered before. All of the other fears we talked about tend to get magnified as the stakes get higher. We are worried about what will be different in our lives if we actually succeed.
Trust that you’ll be able to rise to the occasion, just like you have in the past when you were working to get your business off the ground. Build a team of strong people you can lean on and learn from.
Focus on the great things success can offer, such as financial and creative freedom. And allow yourself to celebrate the successes you experience! Enjoy how awesome it is to have your hard work and passion be rewarded.
I’ve felt all 5 of these fears throughout my career – and to be honest, I still feel them from time to time. But I don’t let them dictate my life and stop me from moving forward, I’m way more scared of standing still.
If you’re really serious about letting go of your fears and starting something new, enroll in the Side Hustle Accelerator, a new program I’ve launched with Entrepreneur to give you everything you need to launch your own business. We’ll show you how to get started, step-by-step. Click here to learn more
Originally published in Entrepreneur
Kim Perell is widely recognized entrepreneur, investor and national best selling author. A great believer in paying it forward, Kim loves to help aspiring entrepreneurs achieve success and is an early stage investor in over 100 start-ups, 15 of which have successfully been acquired by some of the largest Fortune 500 companies.