How to overcome the fear of starting a new business

The easy and arguably the best answer to the titular question is – you kind of Nike it and just do it. It both is and isn’t that simple, whether you’re just starting or venturing into new areas. Here’s the thing with being an entrepreneur and your own boss:

Anything that has to do with yourself, you can bet on. At some point, there will be so many unknowns that it won’t make any sense except to trust yourself to make good decisions.

I don’t think you can ever be 100 percent sure that you’ll be successful or 100% free of fear. Despite all of your optimism and passion, there will likely always be that 1% (at least) at the back of your mind, nagging and coming up with “what if” scenarios. Luckily, there are a few key things you can do to shake off fear and take the leap:

Think of the worst-case scenario first

In a fast-moving world of entrepreneurship, you can’t control every situation. It’s a scary notion, especially for a person who is used to helping themselves and being in control. Still, with numerous variables in play that you can’t affect, shit will happen.

In most cases, there is going to be a pivot because you expose your business to risks of fluctuations. From markets to people’s behaviors, circumstances change. What you can do is prepare yourself by thinking about the things that, no matter what, you can rely upon without needing anybody to help you.

So, think about the worst-case scenario and solve it first. That’s what I do all the time. By handling it beforehand, I find I get to a place where I can make decisions without panicking if push comes to shove. In my mind, I get to live through it, which helps me avoid making bad decisions or decisions that put me in a difficult situation. You relieve the pressure off yourself and minimize stress, which is huge in this line of work.

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For some, the opposite mindset of envisioning success might work, especially as a motivation, something to strive towards. That’s ok too. It’s just that from my experience, the primary instinct when trying something new is to protect ourselves by envisioning the absolutely worst thing that can happen. As a species, we tend to think of such scenarios as a way to protect ourselves, which later helps as there’s nothing (or far less) to be fearful of.

Forget about failure – everyone fails and so will you

Every entrepreneur fails – period. The sooner you realize failure is inevitable and that every instance of it is just one step toward the endgame, the better you’ll be. However debilitating it may seem, fear of failure is simply fear of something that really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. 

Why? Because if you do something and fail, at least you did it. You gave it your best shot and have no regrets.

As entrepreneurs, we have a few luxuries we can afford but questioning every bad or poor decision isn’t one. Life is too quick and short to contemplate ‘what if’. It’s in our nature to think there’s a logic to everything, a reason for why things happen. Yet, everything unravels largely thanks to a healthy dose of chance.

I know far too many people who like the idea of entrepreneurship but are afraid to make that step and leave their comfort zone. Those are the people who actually fail as they stay within their self-imposed limits and never achieve even half of their potential. 

And even when you fail, it can lead to a positive outcome. For the majority of my failures, I pivoted and got to the right places. In the end, a failure is only a failure if you don’t learn from it, from gathering the courage for another try to taking responsibility and learning how to be a better leader.

Here’s a little secret: it gets easier with every new venture because there are fewer unknowns. Through previous experience, you know how to kick off a project or an activity and do things that are synergetic. It’s the same game, just a different ball.

Set achievable goals

All of the above won’t hold much water without concrete, tangible objectives to strive to. You need a specific context within which you can make decisions.

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First, identify your overall mission and what it is that you want to achieve. Then, build small but (and this is important) realistic goals that will serve as guideposts to reaching that mission. This way, you make the big picture more absorbable and less intimidating while adjusting to your new daily routine.

Plus, starting small is a great way to jumpstart that feeling of accomplishment. Oftentimes, it’s not only for yourself but for your team too. Ordinary, incremental progress can boost engagement and happiness in the workplace throughout the day.

Final thoughts

One of the pillars of entrepreneurship is believing in yourself and trusting your decisions as that is how you get to grow as a person and as an entrepreneur.

Rarely, if ever, will there be a perfect time for you to do your thing. There will always be some challenge or an obstacle in the way because that’s just how life is.

Being an entrepreneur is going to take a lot of energy, time, and ultimately, money. There is a lot of mental and physical fatigue attached but that’s just the price you have to pay if you want to follow your passion, which is exactly what you get to do. There’s no promise that it will work but when you take a chance and give it your all, that’s a great feeling on its own.

You also get to meet people whose values, ideas, and mindsets align with yours. In most cases, you get to work with them because you can.

Many entrepreneurs also boost their confidence this way. As they witness over time what they are capable of, they become more confident in their self-reliance. That is a win right there, with or without a successful business to show for.

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About the Author
Ronen Menipaz is an Israeli investor, entrepreneur, tech advisor, and founder of numerous business ventures in the entertainment, adtech, and fintech space, as well as the co-host of the Real Life Superpowers podcast. During his 25 years of entrepreneurial experience, Ronen has been involved with over 100 startups in Israel, 30 of which he founded or co-founded. Two of those startups went public, while five were sold and four more are currently privately profitable companies.
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