Facing and Embracing the Fears of 2018 Entrepreneurs
By Rebecca Allam
This year we were lucky enough to have our 'Peerworking' Surgery fall on the 31st October. The Business Clinic team saw this as an opportunity to mix things up and hold a Surgery Spooktacular to provoke thought on all things scary... in business.
We wanted to help our practitioners open up about their biggest fears in business and allow them to offer their support to others in the room, because let’s face it, not many of us in business actually feel totally fearless, but we put that mask on every day (rather than just once a year) and tell our colleagues, competitors and customers that we are fearless, strong and know what we are doing and how well we are doing!
It can be hard to crack through that mask, to flip your thinking and be brave enough to sometimes admit that we might need support or advice and that we are in fact scared of;
• The unknown
• Selling to win business
• Getting your message right
All these things are common fear factors facing today’s entrepreneurs and we want to highlight how normal that is and that it’s not something you have to face on your own. Let’s break these 5 fears down and “turn them into learning curves” which can of course be overcome.
It’s one of the necessary evils when you start out in business. There are so many different groups and events you can attend which can be overwhelming. Most people you speak to will tell you they don’t enjoy it (or they are lying). And up until you started your business you probably wasn’t even aware of this strange world where people greet you with an impromptu face to face sales pitch before you’ve even managed to sugar your coffee.
Like all new things it takes time to get used to entering a room filled with strangers and be expected to make a meaningful connection with someone, it’s like tinder gone mad! But it can be a really great way to learn about your local business community, and what kind of people and organisations are out there that you can get support from and lean on throughout your business journey.
Some advice from our Practitioners who have been exactly where you are (if indeed the above resonates with you)...
• Face your fear head on, go to events, buddy up with someone you know, a friend or colleague, and see where it takes you. We all have our own style so find out what yours is and roll with it.
• Don’t try and sell to the room. Find out about people, why they do what they do, what are their specialisms and most of all what do they enjoy outside of work? That could actually be the key to how you can help them or how they can help you!
• It’s not about passing business, it’s about learning, sharing and gaining peoples trust while building relationships.
As humans the fear of failure is a common, and in some cases, a learnt emotion which can happen from an early age where getting the right answer first time around is rewarded and less so for our failures. While in a business setting, many entrepreneurs will tell you that most of the valuable lessons they learnt were from their failures and without them they wouldn’t be as successful in their business as they are today. Therefore failure needs to be embraced as a key step in the learning process, weather you are a 5 year old or an SME.
If you have had or still have that fear of failing in your business you may wish to read the below advice from real people who have experienced this very same feeling:
• Turn your fear into a learning curve – it will always be something you can overcome. It’s about finding the path round it that works for you and turning it into a life lesson.
• Build on your support network – An entrepreneur is only as good as the network they build for themselves. Being in business is a very lonely place and without a strong support network around you the more space there is for that fear to grow and stop you from achieving your goals. You can achieve a lot when people stand together.
• Think about the opportunities you would miss out on if you let the fear of failure stop you from doing them. Consider this; Richard Branson was a high school dropout...
Those entrepreneurs that fear the unknown, you can often track it back to a slight lack of planning. From a business perspective it can be a reckless idea to jump into owning your own business without having the proper steps in place to ensure your landing is a soft one.
Sometimes the fear of the unknown can rest on the fact that it’s more than just yourself counting on your actions, maybe your family is relying on you for the main source of income, or you may have employees relying on you to pay their mortgage. In both of these instances the below advice is worth considering:
• Remove the fear by considering all of the potential outcomes of your decision before you make it, i.e. make an ACTION PLAN...
• If you need help to follow these thought paths a simple tool to use is called a decision tree which is a tool similar to a mind map which allows you to consider the consequences of possible decisions including chance outcomes as well as resources
• Being organised is the best possible way to prepare for the unknown and therefore easier to handle whatever situation is presented to you
• Have a backup plan ready because things aren’t always straight forward and things can catch us off guard, failing to plan is planning to fail
Selling to win business
For all of us that have come from an employed position and decided to go into business for ourselves, selling wasn’t the first task we all thought of as one that we would need to overcome. Having to go out to a customer and explain to them why they should invest in your product or service is daunting enough but for most people it’s the idea of making that first step and “cold calling” a list of people and potentially being rejected, oh the horror! The resounding “No” is the metaphorical monster hiding under the beds of the 2018 entrepreneur. The hero in this scenario is “Captain” GDPR, which has put a stop to the evil cold call and given us the excuse of coming up with more creative ways to draw in our potential customers and a warm lead is a good lead!
But just in case sales in general are a thing of your nightmares, take our advice... Eat that frog:
• Sales is, simply put, just a form of communication and we forget how easily we can all communicate, we all do it everyday with friends and colleagues and for some of us more un-hinged... our pets. But when it comes to actually selling our product or service all normal communication and listening skills seem to fly out the window leaving us to fear the rejection of a customer and what it might mean for our business.
• Every no is one step closer to a yes... It’s probability baby, you can’t hide from those mathematical facts!
• Now, what do I mean by eating the frog? If you’ve never heard this term before you’re probably thinking I’ve taken the Halloween theme a step too far! Eating the metaphorical frog (yes, I know, thank goodness) is another way of saying; do the things that you don’t like first. If you hate getting through that call list, that is your first job on a Monday morning! Once you’ve got that out of the way you will feel that much more productive and a greater sense of achievement. You can then put all that time you may have spent dithering over it to good use... maybe some marketing planning... who knows?
Getting your message right
Getting your message and branding right isn’t always the first thing that pops into people’s heads when they start their business venture. You start out with passion, skill and maybe a fitting business name for yourself and in we jump with registering the business and finding the clients and depending on your field maybe some office space. It’s normally a bit further down the line we realise that to gain the right audience and raise awareness of our little empire we need to create a marketing plan which all rests on having the right message, strapline and branding which ties into our values and mission statement. It all seems very big and all at once. The fear lies in “what if I don’t get this right” and “how can I possibly attract the clients we need” and “could it be detrimental to my business?”
Let us break it down for you...
• Yes, this is an important part of your business development, but it’s not as terrifying as you think. Your business message can quite often change over time and what you envisioned your business to be when you first set it up may not necessarily be what it is now or what it will be in 5 years’ time. Yes the core will be the same but like people we all develop over time and the course can change so it is good to be revising your message and ensuring you are up to date with it at different stages in your business journey.
• Use an impartial outside source to help you build your message, sometimes as business owners we can be so passionate about our businesses that we are too close to things to see what they are really saying to the outside world and if we build them ourselves these messages can be more confusing than informative.
• Don’t panic, yes there is a lot involved to getting your message right and building it into your overall marketing plan but break it down one step at a time. Start with what we like to call a “brain-dump” put all your thoughts on to paper and see what comes out. From there things can be organised into steps and you will have a more clearly defined path laid out for yourself.
We hope the breakdown of some of these fears have put your mind at rest. As our practitioner Sirka Moore of BDC Moore recently mentioned “Running your own business can be a lonely place and that is where ‘Peerworking’ groups are helping business owners on their journey”. And no business owner need feel alone when organisations such as ours exist. Our practitioners always go away with a sense of relief, motivation or clarity when they attend a session and we welcome you to do the same.