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Fear Of Failure is normal, Taking the plunge from a permanent job in a company to full-time freelancing was perhaps the scariest thing I’ve ever done. And I guess I’m not the only one who felt that this transition was terrifying. After all, the decision to defy traditionalism and start your own business raises more questions than answers when you first tackle this major life change.
The basic questions that hopeful entrepreneurs ask are about things that the company you worked for previously looked after taxes, health insurance, pensions, and so on. But the questions that keep people awake at night – and keep them from actually starting their own business – are about the big picture:
- Do I have what it takes to make my idea a reality?
- Will people buy what I offer?
- Will I earn enough to make ends meet?
- And finally: will I fail?
Here’s the good news: anyone who has gone through the process of becoming a full-time freelancer or entrepreneur has grappled with these questions and found answers. If this were not the case, studies would not show that there are more and more freelancers. If you are thinking about starting a new business, you are definitely in good company.
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To overcome the biggest hurdle – the fear of failure – let’s look at a few common questions that may keep you from starting the business of your dreams. After more than two years of running a successful (and growing!) Freelance company, I know what I’m talking about. I had to answer all of these questions for myself.
1. When Should I Start?
If this question remains unanswered, you will never start. It’s probably the scariest question to worry about because you can always postpone your start indefinitely.
You can counter this question by setting yourself a fixed but realistic cancellation date. This is the day when you leave your permanent job behind and start your path as an entrepreneur. Don’t be tempted to live out a crazy fantasy for the day you quit. It feels good for a minute, but it forces you to start your business as an entrepreneur before you are ready to do it (e.g. running into your boss’s office without pants and shouting, “I’m quitting!” ). Make sure you don’t tear down any bridges you may need later. And finally wait until you have saved enough money to pay your fixed expenses (rent, utilities, food and so on) for the first few months.
With a little planning, you will feel less panicked about this brave step and be better prepared for your last day.
2. What If My Idea Is Bad?
This is a legitimate fear, but what if I tell you that there are steps to minimize the possibility of failure? Because there are.
Pat Flynn’s book Will it Flies? how to check a business idea. He suggests selling products and services in advance before they are finished to generate early interest. He also talks about the importance of developing products and services based on feedback from the target group.
When you sell a product, think about releasing it as a “minimally viable product” before you add all the features you have dreamed of. This is another great technique to review a business idea before you commit to it – and another book to read: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
How can you test a concept before you commit to it? Start your company as a side job. Chris Guillebeau is another entrepreneur who has written a book and explains in his book Side Hustle how to just start a successful side business. The part-time job concept is also a great way to find out whether the company you want to go to can make you happy in the long term.
Knowledge is power – An important point to overcome my fear of failure was to seek the expertise of others who were in my situation. Before you delve too much into planning your new business, ask for the help of mentors who have already walked the path you have in front of you. If you can’t think of someone directly, consider joining a networking group.
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3. What If I’m Bad?
Yes, the impostor syndrome exists. It is really difficult to find an entrepreneur who has not experienced this feeling.
When you are just starting, it is easy to give in to this feeling as if it were the absolute truth.
The thing is, you won’t get better unless you plunge into work. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy to become an expert. Stay up to date on what’s going on in your industry and make it your goal to keep learning new things. Even before you know it, you will see yourself less and less like an imposter, but more and more as if you belong. Ultimately, the only way to not feel like an imposter is to assert yourself against that feeling and not allow him to paralyze your progress.
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4. What If I Take Over?
You will inevitably – so accept it and learn from it.
If you find it difficult to deal with stress, life as an entrepreneur is probably not for you. As a business owner, you shouldn’t expect to avoid stress but focus on learning how to deal with it.
Find ways to organize your business so that you feel better about what you do every day. Also, make sure that you celebrate your victories regularly instead of despairing too much about your problems. And keep your private life up! Leave the computer, move and spend time with your family and friends. Consider this an essential part of running a successful business.
5. [Name of a friend] Failed On The Same Thing: Why Should I Be Successful?
First of all, your experience will be different from those of other people. Be aware of it and accept it. You are not your friend and your friend is not you.
Second, try to look at this question from a different perspective – a positive perspective. For example, if other people can successfully run a business – and millions can do it, just google it – why not you? If you have negative thoughts, work to get them actively and logically under control.
6. [Customer Name] Just Dropped Me. How Do I Recover?
Failure can be defined in different ways. There is a big failure and little failure. Be aware that a lost customer won’t ruin your business. Yes, even if it’s a big customer who pays most of your bills. There are plenty of others just waiting to hear what you have to offer. That being said, a customer you part with means that you have more time and energy to find someone better to replace them.
A negative customer, day or month doesn’t make your company. Commit yourself to dedicate all your efforts to your business in the long term and it will be easier to meet short-term challenges.
7. How Will It End?
Before you become an entrepreneur, accept that you may not know the true answer to this question before you have tried your business.
But you don’t have to do it alone. Ask a mentor and other experts in your industry for help. Even if you have no one to turn to, follow influencers in your industry who document their processes, victories, and failures. They become case studies for your efforts.
While you are in the planning phase for your new company, you need a team of professionals and consultants who will guide you through all the specific aspects of starting a company. Find at least one lawyer and accountant you can trust.
The more you plan (and learn), the more likely you will be successful. While you cannot completely control what will ultimately happen, you can shuffle the cards in your favor with the right vision and support.
8. What Happens If I Fail?
Failure has many faces. You may have heard of the (alleged) multi-level marketing scheme Lularoe. Their independent contractors/sellers have filed a lawsuit against the company claiming they were forced to buy thousands of dollars of inventory that they ultimately could not sell. For these people, the consequence of their failure was that they had thousands of euros in credit card debt.
If you fail, you may also face financial consequences. Or maybe not. Maybe you’ll get to zero and get away with hurt pride. The nice thing about starting a business in today’s economy is that you can often do it without a lot of money, such as office rent or inventory. Most people start their business from their kitchen table, which means if you fail, you’re still at your kitchen table.
With Lularoe in mind, using credit cards more responsibly could have helped to keep debt levels down. Draw a lesson from their problems. Open your own business credit card account, but only use it for things that you can realistically repay.
Every company is different and you have to adapt accordingly. Don’t forget common sense when it comes to managing your now vulnerable finances. If you’re just starting, do everything you can to secure as many free/cheap tools as possible. If your kitchen table is too small for meetings, can you use a friend’s living room? If you can borrow books from the library, do so. Make a list of all the ways you can save money. Every euro counts when you start your own business.
But avoid constantly thinking about how you might fail so as not to make yourself fail. Managing your finances is smart, but taking the time to plan B can be counterproductive to the success of your business. If you think negatively, these thoughts become your reality. Take steps to think positive and pay attention to yourself. Don’t jump into work at the expense of family and things you enjoy doing.
In the end, it’s okay if you fail. You will recover from it. It is not the end of the world and you will have learned an invaluable lesson. After all, it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried and regretted it for a lifetime.