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10 fears that prevent prospective entrepreneurs from starting a business

You have a great business idea. There is no obvious reason why it should fail. Not if you do the due diligence and put in the hard work. Yet there is something holding you back. Something called fear.

Some people won’t admit that they are scared. Others don’t even recognise that fear is behind the myriad of excuses they come up with not to embrace entrepreneurship.

Let’s take a look at 10 common fears that hold entrepreneurs back from successfully starting a business.

  • Fear of failure

Being afraid of failure is probably the biggest fear prospective entrepreneurs must overcome. Because if you think you’re going to fail at running your own business you’re crazy to start in the first place, right?

Wrong. While it’s absolutely normal to be apprehensive when risking so much, you can use fear of failure as a source of inspiration to succeed instead of letting it paralyse you. Look at it this way: aren’t you already failing if you don’t even try?

Remind yourself that failure, big or small, is not the end of the world. In fact, it’s a learning experience that can only help you grow in life and in business. You won’t be the first nor the last person to make a mistake.

  • Fear of humiliation

“What if other people think my ideas are silly? What if they are just waiting for me to fail? I won’t be able to stand the humiliation if I fail,” are thoughts that prevent many would-be entrepreneurs to put their plans into action.

The old saying of he who laughs last laughs best is also true for entrepreneurs. Besides, have a little more faith in your family and friends to take your plans seriously. Perceptions of humiliation or embarrassment are often false and grounded in low self-esteem. If you believe in yourself and your business idea, others will too – no matter how crazy it sounds.

  • Fear of financial ruin

We grow up hearing we should never put all our eggs in one basket. Starting your own business sometimes requires that. Using your life savings or borrowing a large amount of money to make your business happen can be nerve-wracking. It’s normal to be afraid of losing it all or not being able to pay your creditors back. It’s okay to be afraid of financial ruin: if you’re not afraid, you’re not paying attention. The world flips out in an instant on businesses; consider how global disasters can change things faster than you can blink. Financial ruin isn’t always caused by personal failure, but in poor business choices and choosing the wrong accounting team to manage your interests. Perhaps you want to look into mergers and acquisitions and merge your business with another one day. There is nothing to say that this will be a failure, especially not when you have the right team on your side to manage the process properly. Financial ruin should always be on the forefront of your mind, but it doesn’t have to change your determination to do well.

Before the fear of financial ruin prevents you from becoming a successful entrepreneur, think of solutions to avoid possible money problems. Firstly, you must have a well thought out business model that makes provision for different financial eventualities. One option is to consider other means of funding. Investigate crowdfunding possibilities and enquire about government grants.

  • Fear of not coping

The early phases of starting a business can be overwhelming to say the least. Your head will be spinning continuously because of all the things you must think about – from company registration to setting up a website to keeping track of your finances and bookkeeping.

The fear of not being able to cope with all these tasks can prevent you from getting started. The best way to counter this is to break the tasks up into manageable steps that are less overwhelming at first glance. Also, create checklists where you can tick tasks off as you complete them. This will help you track progress and contribute to a sense of achievement.

  • Fear of the unknown

For some prospective entrepreneurs, it may feel as if they are diving into the big unknown. Not knowing whether you will swim or drown can create one of the biggest obstacles on your way to independence – inaction.

Inaction only makes the fear of the unknown worse. This reminds of another true saying: better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. You can only deal with challenges if you know what they are. So, take the plunge even if you’re going to struggle to keep your head above water at times. If you continue to believe in yourself, work hard, and stay passionate, building a successful business will soon be plain sailing.

  • Fear of commitment

Long-term success requires commitment. One reason why some prospective entrepreneurs fear the commitment required to build a successful business is that they don’t believe in their dream hard enough. They’re not ready to fully commit because they’re not 100 % passionate about their idea.

Turning a dream into reality, an idea into a prospering business, doesn’t depend on luck. You can’t expect glowing results if your commitment is lukewarm. Think hard about why you fear to commit yourself to starting your own business. Another reason may be that you’re not ready to make personal sacrifices such as spending less time with friends or family.

  • Fear of hard work

Closely related to the fear of commitment is the fear of hard work. This is especially true if you come from a job with regular working hours where you were free to do what you pleased over weekends. It can put you on a path of laziness where you expect maximum output for minimum input.

Successful entrepreneurs don’t count working hours. They work as long as it takes to achieve the desired results. If you fear not having evenings or weekends off, entrepreneurship may not be for you. However, with proper time management, it’s still possible to maintain a healthy balance between your work and personal life.

  • Fear of letting go

To begin something new you must let go of something old. We would all rather hang on to the familiar than find ourselves in unchartered territory. It’s scary to resign from a job with a reliable income to start a business which may not show any income yet.

Embracing entrepreneurship also means letting go of preconceived ideas about business. It requires flexibility and open-mindedness to adapt strategies and plans at short notice. The fear that they aren’t innovative enough to deal with unexpected challenges can also prevent prospective entrepreneurs from exchanging the old for the new.

  • Fear of lacking the necessary skills

What if your business idea is something completely different from what you’ve been doing to date? It’s only natural that you’ll doubt whether you have the necessary skills to make it work. Or you may feel you need a qualification or training before launching your business.

When you doubt your skills, think back to when you started your first job. Did you know everything? No. Did you learn everything you needed to know quickly? Yes. Did you take time to educate yourself? Yes. Did you ask when you didn’t know? I hope so. Think of this when you fear you lack the necessary skills to start your own business.

  • Fear of disappointing your loved ones

What if I fail and disappoint my wife, children or parents? Although this is a valid fear it shouldn’t stand in your way. In most cases, family and friends are happy to support prospective entrepreneurs on their journey to start out on their own.

The best way to avoid disappointing your loved ones is to always keep them in the loop. Make them feel part of your business. Share your successes with them but also seek their support when you face challenges.

  • Fear of success

The least obvious but maybe the most debilitating fear. The fear of success is a real one. This is especially applicable to people who haven’t experienced success before. They are afraid of the spotlight that comes with being successful. It could be because it’s unfamiliar to them or because of a general feeling of inadequacy. They don’t believe they can be successful and therefore they fear it.

Do you recognise any of these fears? Are they or have they prevented you from starting a business?

Then it’s time to stop thinking up excuses and identify and face your fears one by one. Break your paralysis. Because fear is the biggest obstacle standing between you and success. Fortunately, it’s also the easiest one to overcome.

Here are 3 tips to deal with fear:

  1. Be conscious of your fears and address them proactively. Don’t block them out. Acknowledge their existence and deal with them.
  2. Change your attitude to failure. Ask yourself why you are scared of failure. Is it because you don’t want to lose – both status or money? You are only a loser if you allow yourself to be one. The biggest winners were all losers once.
  3. Prepare to succeed! You can fail by letting your fear paralyse you. Or you can succeed by using that same fear to empower you. The choice is yours.

This article was written by Samuel Atkinson at Rapid Formations – one of the UK’s leading company formation agents. Visit us at where we’ll cater for your company formation, registered address and company documentation needs.


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