Everything you want…

Fear for Business Owners

…is on the other side of fear ~ George Addair

I’ve been thinking about the challenges I’m facing as a business owner, then reflecting on what I have talked to other businesses about, and realized that fear is a major challenge to all business owners. Fear comes in many forms, and each form tends to have a solution or set of workarounds. These fears are usually roadblocking something I want to achieve; revenue goals, hiring someone, taking on new clients, etc.

So as I reflect on my own challenges, I recall some of the work I have done with my clients and other business owners in the past and will articulate some of what I shared with them here.

Here are a few fears business owners face:

Fear of Failure: When you own a business, there is a fear that the product or service won’t be delivered on time, on budget, and at the quality level it should be. There is also a fear that something won’t work. The good news, you will fail sometimes. Learn how to “fail forward,” address the failure and refine your process to keep that from happening again.

Fear of Being a Bad guy: When you agree to work at a rate in change or service or product, you honor both parties. Conflicts happen. Address them and be fair in your response.

Fear of Overcharging: This stems from an insecurity that the price accurately represents the value. If you have an agreement, then be sure to deliver what you offered for that price. One product or service could have various amounts of people willing to buy at varying prices points.

Fear of Undercharging: This could happen when you first start a new service or product, so after the project/service delivery, ask the client if they received the value they paid. If they say they received more value, consider raising your price. If multiple clients tell you the same thing, then raise your price. If you can’t pay your bills and keep the lights on, raise your price or consider changing your business model.

Fear of Success: This is a harder one to catch. People are worried that if this works too well, they may have set an expectation that they then have to keep up. If you are in business, you need a pattern of success to know your product and services actually work. You can always not take on new work.

Fear of Being an Imposter: This is a tough one also. If you talk through your experience and knowledge and build a strong case for why you are the right person, you can eliminate this fear. If your inventory of skills and experience is coming up short, revisit your offers, price points, and guarantees.

Fear of Change: This is the one I’ve talked most people through. One aspect of reality is “change is constant.” When you are in business, several factors change almost daily. Leverage your experience and knowledge to prepare for changes. When a change is upon you that you did not expect, take it head-on.

Fear of a Lacking (Skills/Experience/Knowledge/Money/Revenue): This is probably one of the easier fears to address. More so if you know what you are missing. Chances are there is someone that you can hire to help supplement whatever you are missing. The person, you hirer, should fit into your culture and the way you operate, dovetailing into your efforts. If you don’t know what you are missing, talk to a coach/mentor and get their insight.

Fear of the Unkown: This is challenging because you don’t know what you don’t know. However, there are people with knowledge and experience that could help you with knowing the unknowns. Then you can start to work on understanding more about the known unknowns, expanding your knowledge. The big caveat, you never know what you will do in a situation until you face it. The best way to gain more insight into these types of situations is to create smaller experiences to inform a larger experience. Ex: You want to have an employee, start with hiring a freelancer.

Fear of Misunderstanding or Miscommunication: This is a common fear. Know that it will happen, no matter how well you think you are communicating. The best proactive way to limit this is to create clear processes for communication. Before you contact those you need to communicate with, think through what they need to know and present clarifying information when needed. The best reactive way to address this fear is to be ready with other ways to explain whatever is misunderstood.

Options when dealing with Fear:

First, you have to contextualize the fear as a challenge. Then decide how you want to take on the challenge.

  1. Work though the fear – Acknowledge it, work to understand it, and be motivated to get through the fear. Generally you address the fear and reduce it’s effect. Ex: Think of learning a new task you were afraid of doing.
  2. Work around the fear – Acknowledge the fear and understand the effets of the fear, and work around the fear and it effects. Ex: Think of a business process you are afraid of, and you hire someone else to address.
  3. Work under the fear – Don’t address the fear, and let the effects of the fear drive you. Ex: Meeting deadlines for projects or collecting enough in revenue to meet payroll.
  4. Work over the fear – Don’t address the fear, ignoring the fear and it’t effect, moving on with your other goals. Geenrally this is a reoccuring situation you ignore. Ex: Think of oustanding processes you need to fix that could save you time or potential risks you’ve avoided addressing, because it’s a constant narrow miss, but really should address.
  5. Leave the fear where it is and do something else – Ignore the fear and maybe it will go away, or have to be addressed at another time when you have more time.

Everything you want is on the other side of Fear

As a business owner, there are goals that I have that I want to achieve. Fear is one of the factors that come with business ownership that can hamper my ability to achieve my goals. Knowing what my fears are and how to address them allows me to get to the other side or past my fear and onto my goals.

Some tips with dealing with Fear:

  1. Not every fear needs to be addressed at this time: I worry about how to hirer my first person and what the tax and libility is for this person. Good news for me, I don’t need to worry about this now, and when I am ready to hirer someone, I will be in a place to contract with someone to help me through the process of my first hire.
  2. Not every fear is bad: Fear is part of the human condition. It can motivate you away from a bad situation, motivate you to take positive action, or cause you to reflect what is really important.
  3. Nothing to fear but fear itself: If you fear being afraid of something, then you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of things to fear. But be sure to know what it is you are fearing and deal with that fear, not get caught up in the fear of fear.
  4. Get help addressing fears: Some fear stems from the unknown. Get someone to help address your unknowns and put your fears into persepctive.
  5. Contextualize your fears: One of the best ways to deal with your fears is to know what they are and how the effect you and your business. At the least you’ll know what to avoid and when.


Fears happen, and unfortunately, they tend to come stacked or daisy-chained together. Knowing what your fears are and how you want to address them will allow you be functioning at a higher level. Addressing every fear leaves you wrapped up in solving issues that may not be immediately important or wasting time addressing things that can be dealt with at another time. Some fears actually motivate you to improve or gives you the drive to make things happen. Some fears will hold you back. Take inventory and work through your fears to achieve the goals you want, which of course, are just on the other side of fear.

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