Is Fear the Boss of Your Business?


Is Fear the Boss of Your Business?

Back when we were starting-up, we took on a small client who turned out to be a big ‘pain in the business’. We knew at the very first meeting this wasn’t the client for us, that pesky gut feeling! But cash strapped with a mortgage to pay we ignored the red flags and pushed on anyway.

Then things got harder. Suddenly this client was taking up 100% of our time and paying less than 50% of their invoices. But still we held on. There were no new jobs on the horizon and the fear of losing a client, even one that was virtually non-paying, became all consuming.

But here’s the thing about fear, fear is a great manipulator. Fear will have you believing that if you let go of that one terrible client, the one that’s taking up all your time and not bringing in any money, your business will come to a screaming halt.

Fear will have you believing that you’re not good enough. That you have nothing of value to say. That nobody will listen.

More recently I had the pleasure of meeting and spending the day with someone I greatly admire in business. We were there as peers, and as each person in the room took their turn to stand and give their introduction I found myself getting sweaty. How could I pass myself off as someone of the same calibre? I decided maybe I couldn’t, but who cares. I was there with a shot and I was going to take it!

And then she stood. Looked around and with brutal honesty talked about imposter syndrome and how it was holding her back. How it had paralysed her business and she had no idea how to stop it.

I wanted to jump up and tell her that I could relate. That not two minutes before she spoke I was feeling those very same feelings of imposter syndrome. But the difference was I was now ready to stand up and claim my turn, fear and all.

You see, fear is always going to be there. We need it, it keeps us safe. It’s when we let it rule us that it becomes a problem.

So here’s how I learned to live with my fear:

1. Know Your Why.

I wrote an article called I Quit! How to Make Your Way Back From a Meltdown where I talk about knowing what drives you and it also applies here.

I’m very clear on the direction I want my business to go in, and I can’t see myself doing anything other than that. So when I feel that familiar fear rising I’m able to gently remind myself why I’m here and it helps me to keep moving forward.

2. One Thing at a Time.

There is nothing more overwhelming than a full to do list. And nothing goes better with being overwhelmed than fear. So slow it down.

I pick the top five tasks. I rate them one to five and then work through them one at a time. If I get through them all, I pick another 5.

3. Make Every Day Count.

Whatever you do, do not stop!

With all the experience I have in starting and growing businesses my latest has been the hardest. It’s more personal than the others and it’s the one where I stand to lose the most.

So even on the hard days, the days of self-doubt, I make sure I do a minimum of one thing directly related to the growth of that business.

4. Trust Your Gut.

We finally got up the courage to walk away from that ‘pain the business’ client and as one door closed several more opened. But not before significant damage had been done to our business. Damage we could have avoided if we’d listened to what our gut had been trying to tell us all along.

Fear. We all have it, it’s always there but don’t let it become the boss of your business. If you find that you’re becoming overwhelmed, stop and ask yourself why am I here? Slow it down and proceed with purpose. Make every day count and trust your gut.

You are good enough. You have value. You can do this!

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