You want to do this (whatever “this” is – start the business, buy the franchise, invest in the project, etc.), but you’re scared to take the plunge. What if something goes wrong?
When you hesitate in starting a business – even one that you really, really want to build – there’s one main reason you hold back: you’re afraid. This is a very common problem with all people who make big decisions, but it’s absolutely detrimental to an entrepreneur.
You might be scared your business won’t work. Or you’re scared you’ll fail. Or that you’ll lose money. Or that your business actually grows, because you know you might put yourself in a position where you’ll be subject to attention, feedback or criticism – maybe even the spotlight.
That’s just a small sampling of the fears first time business owners have.
Fear comes from conditioning, the learned responses and associations created by your brain as you experience life. Maybe you once failed an important test in school, and now you feel doubtful and nervous each time you feel put to the test.
Or maybe you worked really hard on a personal project, like a painting or learning a new skill, and the first person you proudly showed gave you negative feedback and told you it wasn’t good enough.
Or maybe you grew up in a household where your parents believed a good life was one where you got a job, got married and settled down for a 30-year career with the same company. They warned you away from risky moves and told you that job security was safest and best (in their minds).
These are just examples, and they simplify the actual conditioning that might be holding you back. These examples are universal but everyone’s individual psychological makeup is unique.
The point is that as you take in contemplate pulling the trigger on a new business, your mind turns your doubts over to your “inner critic”, the internal self-talk we all have in our heads.
Your inner critic was once useful – after all, it probably kept you out of danger during your teenage years. Fitting in and avoiding the wrong kind of attention are great survival strategies for the young of any species, and that goes for the high-school human as well. Teens work hard to find their place with peers, and they seek to be liked and accepted – not criticized and ostracized.
So, yes. Back then, your inner critic was useful, and it helped you along. But as you matured, your inner critic forgot its true goal (which is to keep you safe and happy), and it fell into automatic pilot.
Now it actually prevents you from achieving what you want. You know the risks of starting your own business – you’ve analyzed them and done due diligence. And your inner critic still won’t let you move forward.
Your inner critic is powerful. That voice in your head knows you intimately, and it knows exactly which buttons to push to get you to do what it wants. It cripples entrepreneurs and paralyzes them with fear, negative thinking and limiting beliefs.
If you find yourself thinking:
- What if I screw up?
- I can just imagine what my spouse/parents/friends would think if I told them my idea – they’re just waiting for me to tell me everything I do wrong
- If I could just figure out everything that could ever possibly go wrong with this project, I’d be able to do this
- I bet I’ll goof up at the worst possible moment and blow this whole deal
- I can’t quit this job. If I lose this job, my life is over. I hate it, but I need this job to live. …then you know your inner critic has taken over and it’s running the show – your show.
When you break the situation down rationally, you’ll discover that there isn’t much to be afraid of. Your fears are just ambiguous, vague and half-imagined situations that don’t hold up under close examination.
It’s fear of the unknown more than anything else – you might fear failure, but you don’t actually know what it would be like to fail, or what would happen afterwards. You haven’t failed yet – and you don’t even know if you will.
Of course, there’s really no such thing as failure; there are only learning experiences. But I digress.)
Winning the war with your inner critic and taking back control of your internal dialogue can melt away these useless fears.
You’ll realize that listening to your inner critic brings you more unhappiness and less fulfilment – your inner critic is backfiring at its job! It’s is the one doing the failing, not you!
If you’re on the fence about starting your business and you have been for a while: Recognize the critic for what it is – an outdated protection mechanism that is no longer relevant.
Then do it. Start your business.