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How to overcome the fear of taking the first step in starting a business

In my last article, I talked about the businesses I have started. This is all very well, but what happens if you are too afraid to take the first step?

I have asked several entrepreneurs, each at a different stage of business ownership, for the advice that they would give someone who wants to start a business but are afraid to take that first step. 

Here is what they said:

"Many people are nervous about making the first jump into entrepreneurship. I would recommend breaking down the 'first step' in ones mind. Often we over think what starting actually is picturing a mountain that is seemingly impossible to climb. But the reality is entrepreneurship is a series of tiny steps that need to be taken one at a time. Think not of everything you must do in order to 'succeed', rather what you should do in order to move in the right direction. Before you know it these tiny steps will become a fast paced run leading you in directions you wouldn't have anticipated before. In essence, just begin."

Mike Bander, Founding Partner of Turn Partners

“Nothing you do is a mistake – everything is an experience and a lesson to learn from. If you believe in your idea, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise; be resilient in your passion. When you think you have exhausted all possible avenues, remember that you haven’t and there is always a solution, always.”

Aaron Morris, Co-Founder of Hunger Ltd. 

“Figure you why your business/idea is different, and how you can see it fitting into our society. Once you have that, all you really need to do is just believe in yourself! It’s quite daunting, but if your gut is telling you the time and idea is right, you have to take the leap and trust your instincts. If your heart and passion are in it, that will transpire to your people.”

Hannah Stanley, Owner of Sage and Grace UK.

“Our main motivation as human beings is to find and experience personal freedom, so that that first step, however small and begin. Let the thirst for freedom outweigh the fear of beginning.”

Pete Bryceland of Bryceland Ltd. 

There are plenty of examples, including the people mentioned, of those who have been able to overcome fear and take action to start a business. I encourage you to find those in your network who have done this and ask them to give you advice and support in the initial stages. I also know of others, who have had the business idea, the resources and the passion but have never overcome their personal barriers, never taking the first step. If you do or don't there are consequences to either action.

Hopefully, this advice can support you to overcome the fear that may be stopping you from taking action. Personally, I am the sort of person that would read the advice and think to myself, “That is all very well for those people, but I still don’t know how to get past my fear!”. For me, I like a practical step by step guide. So below, is a short exercise that will enable you overcome your fear, understand the consequences of your choice, and highlight what is important to you. The key element is to explore and have fun! 

Find somewhere with plenty of space to walk forwards and backwards. A moderate size living room or bedroom, with an object free walking space from wall to wall is ideal. Start at one side of the room facing into the room. Where you are standing is your present. Where you are going to walk is your future.

1. The first scenario, you are doing life as you currently are, with all of the fears you have about your business. Nothing changes about how you are feeling.

Start walking forwards into your future, noticing what happens and what your life looks like. Notice any challenges and how you overcome them. Notice how you feel, and what you hear. When you get to the end of the room, or when it feels right to stop, look back at your life from the future position. From here, what are you saying to yourself? What have you learnt? What were the benefits for staying the same? What did you like and what didn’t you like? Knowing what you know now, go back to the start taking with you all of the useful learnings.

2. The second scenario, you are able to overcome your fear and take action towards starting your business (or another desirable outcome).

Start in the present and as you are walking, you take action towards your business and overcome your fear. Notice the challenges and how you overcame them. What do you see and hear? Notice how you feel. When you get to the end of the room, or when it is right to stop, look back at your life from the future position. From here, what are you saying to yourself? What have you learnt? What were the benefits of of starting your business? What did you like and what didn’t you like? With all that you have learnt, walk back to the start integrating all of the useful learnings.

3. In your present position, think about the business activities, and notice any feelings that you have. What is different? What will you do differently now?

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