Can Entrepreneurial Fear Be Good for a Startup?

Posted by Sarah Lerche

As an entrepreneur, you know that fear is not unusual — but you may not realize that fear can actually be a good thing for a startup. As the late Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Facing fear and anxiety will be part of every entrepreneur’s journey, be it the fear of failure, the fear of letting people down or even the fear of success. In fact, it’s not always possible to achieve long-term success without going through some sort of failure — many of today’s famous personalities in business, including Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and J.K. Rowling, did not reach success without their fair share of rejections and failures.

However, your ability to recover from such humbling experiences comes down to your perspective on fear. And so in some respects, fear may even be a good thing for you. Here are some advantages of being fearful as an entrepreneur:

Fear Can Make You More Focused

At the beginning of any venture, every business owner believes that they have the best idea in the world. And while they understand the risks involved, their foresight might be blinded by the expected rewards. When they fail or face rejection of some sort, they may become fearful of continuing. This can become a powerful wake-up call for them and make them more focused, while keeping their goals and expectations real.

Fear Provides Clarity 

When our business faces a new challenge or our career is derailed, our fears usually provide us with clarity on what is truly most important in our lives and how to take care of those things.

Fear Can Motivate You to Do Better

It doesn’t matter how successful you are, fear is never a pleasant feeling. But what differentiates those who succeed from the ones who fail is that the former look at fear as a learning experience.

Fear Can Provide a Safe Cocoon

Sometimes, fear can make people slow down and take shelter in a safe place in times of great change and personal transition. This is a good thing because it’s a reminder that great transformations take time, and that even the most ambitious entrepreneurs need to take a break, to stop working so hard and to let things take their natural course.

Fear Makes You Open to Receiving Help

Fear reveals that self sufficiency can sometimes be an illusion. It makes startup owners realize that they may need a helping hand from others from time to time, in addition to prompting entrepreneurs to help to those who are on the journey with them.

Fear Makes You Strive for Success

Fear makes entrepreneurs understand that success can be fleeting, and that once they have achieved it, it’s important to hold on to it and work hard to sustain it for a long time.

Use Fear to Your Advantage

Fear is inevitable. However, it’s possible for you to manage your entrepreneurial fear and use it to your advantage. Here’s how:

Convert Fear into a Reality Check

After acknowledging that you are fearful about something, try and figure out what’s causing you to be afraid. Such outcomes as clients pulling work from you or financial setbacks after leaving your full-time job are all valid concerns. So instead of letting the worry about what might happen steer you into making the wrong decisions, analyze the various possibilities and use them to create best- and worst-case scenarios, and let those help you make the right decisions.

Use Fear as a Tool for Learning More

Learning can be a powerful antidote to the fear of failure, and can help mitigate your doubts by building your capabilities. Use fear to push yourself to work harder, to focus more on what you’re doing and to educate yourself to be the best you can be as you build your business.

Let Fear Drive You to Seek Support

Fear can have both negative and positive effects on decision-making, motivation and behavior. Hence, reaching out to your mentors, especially those from within your industry, can prove to be extremely beneficial. Use fear to learn more by talking to more people. Take what they have to say as constructive criticism, as that can help you come up with better ideas and solutions for your business.

Channel Fear into Doing Something Good

On one end of the spectrum, fear can be a great motivator, but on the other end, it can also be a great paralyzer. And where you decide to be inside that spectrum will determine whether you know how to evolve. So don’t run from fear. Instead, channel it and do something good with it.

Use it to Further Your Growth

Sometimes, fear is nothing more than a personal development exercise, so make use of fear and work to make yourself better because it will eventually impact your business. Allow it to bring up past issues that you may need to deal with in order for you to move on.

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