Article by written by Harry Welby-Cooke (ActionCOACH)
Fear is a great emotion and very necessary to ensure our survival. It is however just as good at keeping us stuck and not allowing us to act on our dreams and aspirations. Nowhere is this more prevalent than when wanting to venture out on your own into the big wide world of entrepreneurship.
I can tell you that F.E.A.R stands for False Expectations Appearing Real but that’s just the logic part. We need to balance the logic with the emotion to allow you to take a step forward. So I’ve put together five easy ways of doing just that.
1. Balancing act
Both FEAR and EXCITEMENT are necessary when making any life-altering decision especially when deciding to become an entrepreneur. If you have only one of the two emotions, you’re spending too much time in your head and not enough time doing the actual work required before becoming an entrepreneur. For the next steps you’ll most certainly need a pen and paper to write things down (not a technological device) and get to work.
If you’re only excited you’ve obviously not done your home work properly and you need to go out and get more facts. Those facts need to be about the positives as well as the negatives of owning your own business. Do the research until your enthusiasm is slightly tempered and you now have a health respect (or fear) for the dangers and risks involved in entrepreneurship. Remember to write these down as you go along. Split the page and build the case for both.
If you’ve become so fear stricken that you’re no longer excited you’re going to soon go into paralysis mode (if you’re not there already). Here the fear becomes overwhelming and you never move. I call this the wheel spinning area. Lots of activity (thinking), lots of smoke (stressing) but no action whatsoever. Just more paralysis. Here one is often only seeing the negative and not focussing enough on the positive. Why do you want to be an entrepreneur in the first place? Get real clear on the purpose, your Why, your calling, your drivers, your vision, your ability to contribute, change your life, add significant value and so on until you’re more excited again about the future. Don’t stop until there’s now a healthy balance between your FEAR and your EXCITEMENT. Again write it down.
2. Payslip versus invoices
For a long time we’ve been ‘tricked’ into believing that employment was less risky than owning your own business. In fact, I’d like to show you how the exact opposite is probably true. In a job you exchange your skills and experience with your employer for a commensurate fee. They pay you for that service in the form of a salary and ‘trick’ you into believing it’s a safer option by giving you a payslip. On top of that they take away the schlep of having to invoice them and they normally keep you further entrapped by even paying you on the 25th of the month – 5 to 6 days before you’ve even finished your service for that month.
The danger with this model is that you’ve only got one customer. If that customer, your employer, decides to terminate your services you’re up the creek without a paddle.
In any normal business you’re never going to survive on only one customer. You’re going to build multiple customers and issue multiple invoices every day, week and month to ensure you’ve got a stable customer base. You then manage the money coming in, versus the money going out, and the balance is your profit. In effect a much more stable environment, if you do it properly, than relying on one customer (your current employer).
3. Build a strong foundation
Any good building needs a strong foundation. Your journey into entrepreneurship will need the same. Build as strong a foundation as you can. You will need support from family and friends. Make sure you have it before you start. Don’t just assume you have it; check with them. You will need financial support – to get started and to get going. It will cost more than you budgeted for and take longer than you expected. Plan accordingly. Get your finances sorted before the _ _ _ _ hits the fan. You will need to spend time investing in yourself. You will need to read, learn, attend seminars, get a business coach (obviously an ActionCOACH). There will be hard times and your mindset will take a roller coaster ride. Prepare your mind ahead of time and buckle up. A strong personal and business foundation will result in a great foundation for your future success. Prepare it before you start.
4. Value proposition
Clarity births success. Not only in a new business but in everything we do. The more clarity you have before embarking on something new the better the success would be. Make sure you get really clear on the value proposition you and your business will take to market. It might make sense for you but if someone isn’t willing to pay you, and pay you often and well for it, there is no business. Write it down, tweak it, get outside input – hell even ask your grandmother for advice. It must be obvious for strangers to do business with you and not just sound great in your head. If you serve a need, with fair exchange between the benefit for the customer and your fair return, you have an exciting alternative for the business.
Cast it in stone and get going.
5. Marketing and finance
Business is relatively simple. It’s not always easy but remains relatively simple. There are some really basic things you need to do, and do consistantly, to ensure it works. Between Google, YouTube, book stores and libraries there are more than enough resources to help you make it simple and successful. Two of the most critical success factors are however: 1. Marketing and 2. Finance.
Entrepreneurs often think it’s sales but most, no all, entrepreneurs can sell. Put them in front of a qualified and targeted prospect and they light up with passion, energy and conviction. They generally get the sale. It’s the marketing to get infront of the qualified and targeted prospect that’s normally the problem. Get really good at marketing. Don’t get fooled by all the sales talk of people trying to take your money for marketing ‘silver bullets’. They don’t exist. Get really good at generating the right leads for your business. Understand that process now already. And don’t neglect old school marketing. Direct mail, door knocking, classifieds, post cards and well-executed flyers are all making a huge comeback. They stand out from the crowd. Find a way to uniquely get your message across to your desired audience.
Like it or not business revolves around numbers and the most critical numbers are your finances. Most entrepreneurs however have an aversion to finance and in most cases this can be traced back to their accounting teacher at school. Shame on you for allowing that to hold you back. Don’t abdicate responsibility of your finances to the cheapest bookkeeper or accountant you can find. You don’t need to be a CA(SA) but you MUST understand your financials. End of the story!
Business funds life. Simple as that. If it weren’t for business none of us could live. The truth is we need more entrepreneurs to get into business for themselves and make a success of it. It’s good for you and it’s good for everyone around you. Hopefully these five areas will go a long way to helping you manage your fear and take that much-needed action. Start today!