Many years ago, I was the business manager for a film production company where we made big budget TV commercials. Revenue was a rollercoaster ride – either feast or all famine. To make matters worse, my husband was (and still is) a freelancer in the same industry and it’s fraught with insecurity.
I discovered pretty quickly that one of the great joys of working in a creative business is the excitement and the unpredictable nature of the work. It’s much the same when you have your own business. You have freedom and flexibility and you’re the one in the driver’s seat – but the flipside is that there’s insecurity.
It’s a small comfort to discover that most of the fears we business owners feel are universal. Here are the ones my clients speak of most (and the ones I’ve experienced myself).
1. I’m worried about the uncertainty
Despite all of your best efforts, there are no guarantees when you go out on your own. On the difficult days, you might kick yourself for giving up job security but remember, not even corporate roles are for life these days.
Do what you can to minimise risk by having a good business plan and systems to keep you on track with your goals and action steps but remember not to take it personally when a sale falls through or a client goes elsewhere.
Learn to take care of your emotional wellbeing by finding the practices that keep you focused and calm.
2. I won’t make enough money
It’s a genuine stress when you don’t have money to pay the rent or put food on the table and equally stressful when your business has been flourishing financially and revenuestarts to decline.
Whether you’re starting out or running a more mature business, the key to healthy cash flow is good planning. If you haven’t done a budget for your business, do one this week and clean up your financial behaviours in general. Familiarise yourself with your monthly expenses, follow up outstanding invoices, put aside money for taxes and start making wise choices about where you spend your money.
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If you’re running low on cash right now, choose three proactive action steps you can take immediately that are genuinely likely to boost your sales. Make the phone calls, follow up proposals or look into your options for getting financial support.
And if you’ve already tried everything and you’re genuinely up against the wall, don’t see it as a failure to take a few days of paid work to get back on track financially.
3. I’m fearful of failure
In the words of Peter Crocker, “Fear of failure paralyses more would-be entrepreneurs than just about anything else. But success and failure go hand in hand. In fact, perhaps you’re not failing enough.”
We need to expect to fail sometimes but equally we need to recognise that there are many different ways to measure success. If you were speaking to one of my corporate clients who yearn to start their own business, they’ll tell you that failure is not starting a business at all.
For people looking in from the outside, you’re already succeeding if you’ve had the courage to go out on your own.
Anticipate that some failure will be part of the process and stay focused on the small wins to stay motivated.
Have you had a failure that has turned into a positive? Or another fear you’ve faced in business?