Becoming self employed

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Q. I’m planning to leave my very steady 9-5 job to start up my own business from home. I’m finding the fear of failure overwhelming and making me wonder if I’m doing the right thing. How can I cope with this change!


A. Starting your own business can be a scary thing to do. However, if we asked twenty business owners about their biggest fear, they would all probably say the same thing – failure, although it might take a different form for all of them.


Therefore it is OK to be scared and you can actually use that fear to your advantage, let it motivate you to succeed. But first, of what exactly are you afraid? Write down the things that come to mind when you think of failure. Is it losing a lot of money, losing face in front of friends and family, fear that you will not get back into the workforce – especially in a time of economic slowdown, or maybe just fear that you will be tainted by the stigma of failure? Whatever it is, it is likely that you are exaggerating your fear irrationally. We know this because many studies of the behaviour of entrepreneurs (successful and not-so-successful) have shown that these are the things that are going through their minds.


Quantify what you are putting at risk with your venture. Putting things down on paper will often help you to realise that your ability to recover from failure is much better than you think. How much money are you putting into your venture, how much time, how much of your personal relationships? Get a good idea of where you stand. By doing this, you will be in a good position to work out how long it will take you to get back to where you are now. In other words, don’t underestimate your ability to recover. How long would it take to get your finances back to where they were before you started? How long would it take to get a job similar to what you have now? You might be surprised at the answer and you might realise that your fears are exaggerated.


It is also a good idea to have a contingency plan. What will you do if things are not going according to plan A. Make sure you have a plan B and maybe a plan C, but don’t dwell on them. Make a plan B but then forget about it. Just be confident that you have thought it out. Act as if you will never need to revert to plan B. In other words, plan to succeed!


To help you succeed, make sure you know exactly how your business will look when it is successful. Keep that image in your mind. There are lots of reasons why businesses falter but one often overlooked reason is very simple; lack of vision. Most successful businesses are run by people who are very clear about what they want to achieve in their business. They know exactly how their business will look when it is successful. They have a clear vision of success and can describe it in detail. This is not the case with many unsuccessful businesses. The owners were vague and unclear about the direction of the business and what they wanted to achieve. Aim to be in the former group and not the latter. A personal or business coach can help with this.


In summary, as the famous phrase goes, you have nothing to fear except fear itself. Don’t underestimate you ability to be successful and you ability to recover from a setback.