Entrepreneurship is scary. Here's how to keep your head down and your eyes open.
Entrepreneurship: Not for wimps. It’s a roller coaster of fun interrupted by huge rushes of terror. Some entrepreneurs love the challenge. Some just can’t stomach the daily fluctuations.
I’ve been riding the roller coaster for 15 years. It’s one thing to willingly climb into the ride all by yourself and an entirely different matter to be responsible for employees and clients. Did I have some incredible master plan? No. Was I terrified at every turn or drop and consider getting out? You bet.
So how did I get over being such a chicken and get on with building my business? Here are four things that worked for me:
1. Trust smarter people. Many entrepreneurs are afraid to show their vulnerabilities. This prevents them from finding the expert advice they need. The result is “analysis paralysis” which curbs growth and creates executive burnout. During the past 15 years I’ve tapped the expertise of branding experts, lawyers, networking gurus, graphic designers, professional coaches, insurance agents, writers, HR specialists, event planners and commercial real estate brokers. Their expertise lets me focus on doing my best for clients and employees.
I also rely on the advice of my small business CEO peer group, through Vistage. The group facilitates one-to-one and group mentoring, and brings in world-class speakers on a wide range of business subjects.
2. Stay relevant. Nothing scares me more than turning into a dinosaur. Perhaps it comes from living and working in Silicon Valley, where my colleagues launch the new products everyone is going to be using later in the year. Today, I need to know what’s going on and figure out how the news is changing business conditions for my clients. Social media, if it’s wisely focused, is a good way to follow trends and news from leaders in your industry.
No time to keep up? Create your own custom news source on MyAlltop for anything from acupuncture to zombies. I also subscribe to once-daily emails from SmartBrief to make sure I’m up to date on marketing industry news, social media and technology.
3. Keep it clean. Remember when your mom told you to wear clean underwear in case you were in an accident? That really happened to me. As paramedics were tended to me on the freeway median, I couldn’t help thinking, “Whew! Mom will be happy.” You will sleep easier and your business life will be vastly simpler if your books and operations are in order. Pay your taxes. Don’t monkey around with money. Be honest with employees. Business is complicated enough without having to remember which lies you told to which person.
4. Pay it forward. When the tech sector -- my client base -- crashed in 2009 and my company’s revenue plummeted by 50%, my team rallied to learn all we could about social media. While our competition was paralyzed with fear and uncertainty, we coached our clients and consultants on Web 2.0 tools and techniques and prepped them for the recovery.
If your feathers are ruffled by uncertainty or loss of control in your role, you’ll feel empowered by paying forward what you know. Boost your confidence by sharing your hard-won entrepreneurial experience. You can mentor employees, students and other fledgling business owners.
Running your own business is hard work punctuated by moments of sheer terror. It’s perfectly understandable to be scared. Keep your eyes open and go for it.
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