If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or in the process of running and building your own business, it’s likely you’re well-acquainted with the F-word. It conjures up all of those negative images of potential failure, decisions gone wrong, and mistakes waiting to happen. Nobody likes to admit that they use it, and we all feel a sense of shame when it rears its ugly head, clouding our judgment, stifling our confidence and killing our productivity. And once you’re in the habit of using it on a daily basis, it can be very difficult to break the cycle of influence.

Are you running a FEAR-based business?

Fear is one of the biggest roadblocks to young aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start a business. It causes you to second-guess yourself, your experience and your talents, to assume that the value that you bring to the table isn’t really value at all, and that the risks of potential failure are all too tangible. When you operate your business from a place of fear, you place yourself in a dangerous downward cycle of “What If?” thinking:

What If I fail, and look like a fool because of it?
What If I fail, and have to start over?
What If the business never makes any money and I can’t afford to live?
What If my ideas turn out to be stupid, or unappealing?
What If somebody steals my ideas that I’ve worked so hard to formulate?
What If people don’t take me seriously?
What If they find out that I’ve never done this before and I lose all my credibility?
What If…

You could go on for days listing out all of the potential “What If” scenarios that can happen in your business, but all that would do is give more credibility to your fears. The best way to overcome the fears behind this “What If” mindset is to essentially diminish the credibility those fears have in your mind by asking yourself, “Just how likely is this to really happen?” Anything is possible, but is it probable?

And while you’re breaking down the credibility of your fears, it’s just as important to focus on increasing your confidence as a professional so that you’re producing positive thinking to replace those fearful thoughts. So where can you start thinking positively to break down your fears, boost your confidence, and benefit your business in the process?

Fear-Buster #1: Own Your Expertise

Chances are you decided to start your business based on a product or service around which you have a decent amount of knowledge and experience. Even if you’re starting from scratch in a business that’s built around something you love but maybe don’t have experience in, it’s likely that in doing your research and planning you’ve learned a thing or twelve about your niche area.

When potential customers come knocking on your door, it’s because they are interested in your products or services and view you as the expert. They want to believe that you are a reliable and trustworthy source with whom they can feel good investing their money. And they want to buy from someone who is confident in their products in services and the value they provide, not someone who is shy and modest about their talents. So own this expertise, and don’t be afraid to walk that walk.

Many people feel like a “fake” when they’re first starting out and lack the hands-on experience you might associate with being an “expert” in something. But you have to start somewhere, and knowledge is power. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, everyone you meet, about what you do, about your business, your products or services, and what makes you interesting and unique. Your title as “business owner” is not defined by a certain revenue point, or “x” number of customers; it’s defined by you, and your passion around what you do. But in order for others to believe you and feel good about your ability to provide them with a quality product or service, you have to believe it yourself. And the more you practicing talking about the value and presence of your business, the more natural it will feel and become.

Fear-Buster #2: Define the Value You Bring to the Table

Another common fear many new business owners have is that people won’t like the quality and value of their work, or that people will think they’re not good enough. But you as the entrepreneur, the creative brain behind your operation, know fully well why the work you do and the services or products you provide are valuable, what’s unique and interesting about them, and why someone would have a great experience engaging with and buying from you. It’s important to be able to define the value that you can provide to your target customer, and why they should trust and buy from you, and only you. Maybe you have a unique background that really brings an interesting angle to your business, or why you chose to work with a particular market segment.

Perhaps your products are made from eco-friendly materials, or are produced in a special way that makes them cost-effective. Whatever that unique value that you bring to the table is, whether it’s your experience, knowledge, talent or your products and services, make sure that message comes through loud and clear to your audience.

Fear-Buster #3: Set Goals that [Slightly] Intimidate You

If we’re talking about overcoming our fears of failure in business, it might seem counter-intuitive to suggest setting goals that seem intimidating. But it’s more about pushing yourself to set goals that are slightly a stretch to help you develop confidence in yourself and your business, and your ability to produce quality results. And when you make a practice of setting higher and higher goals each time that stretch your capabilities and talents, you set yourself up for growth both in your business and as an individual.

Too many new business owners fall into the trap of setting goals that seem overly attainable because they want to play it safe in the beginning. And when you lack experience running your business, it can be difficult to have a strong confidence in your ability to reach those higher goals. It’s important to challenge yourself so that you continue to grow, learn and evolve. The AIM SMART goal-setting structure is a great practice for setting multiple levels of goals that are attainable (easier), ideal (challenging) and somewhere in between that’s a stretch, but still reasonable. This way, you’re not tied to one number, and you’re still pushing yourself to reach a little bit higher each time, while keeping a realistic perspective on what is and is not attainable at that particular point in your business.

Fear is a natural part of starting a business, and a natural part of our own growth process. But knowing how to recognize when and where fear is holding you back will allow you to better manage it when it rears its head, and not allow it to stifle your creative efforts. Running a successful business often involves taking risks, and requires confidence, strength and ambition. If you allow fear to drive your decision-making process, you essentially starve your business of those necessary ingredients for growth.

The next time you sense your fears getting the best of you, recognize their presence, and then diminish their power by asking yourself, “Just how likely is this to actually come true?” And then remind yourself that you are the expert, you bring value to your customers and your audience, and use that confidence to consistently set goals that bring you one step closer to the vision you have for your own individual picture of success.

If you want to give your business a jumpstart, I’m offering a 3-week Business Quick Start Program.  I help you put together an exit strategy to clarify your vision for your business and help you set your financial goals to transition out of the current career or job so you can move into the next phase of your business.

When you operate your business from a place of fear, you're in a dangerous downward cycle of "What If?" thinking. Are you running a fear-based business?