Dana came to me about 6 months ago needing help on starting her own business. She has a fantastic business idea. Her products will be unique to the marketplace and highly desirable. Substitutions are not easily available. There are plenty of buyers in her community. She has experience in the industry so she knows where to source her products, what reasonable costs will be, and how to sell her inventory. She has written a solid business plan and is ready to start making things happen.
Her plan is to find retail space and set up shop where there is an abundance of foot traffic. This will be key to her success. It is a challenge to find the right retail space because there are limited spaces available for lease. After looking around, she has concluded that she will probably need to purchase a building. Renting is going to be too expensive and cut into her profits.
Dana’s personal finances won’t be enough to qualify for an SBA loan. So, getting private funding is her next best alternative. She needs an investor to partner with her to purchase a building. She knows a few wealthy individuals who might want to invest. She knows others who might be able to make some solid connections and introductions to more potential investors. And this is where her fear creeps in.
The thought of approaching her personal contacts is a scary proposition. She knows she must do it. But it feels VERY uncomfortable. We talked through what was behind her hesitation, her fears. “Let’s get to the bottom of this so you can move past it and take some action”, I told her. She shared what she dreaded about approaching potential investors and you can probably guess her concerns. Being told “no” isn’t a big worry. She is afraid of the perception others might have about her. She worries that they will think less of her if she speaks to them about her plans. It is time to ask some really hard questions. So, I asked, and Sally had to stop and reconsider her feelings. Asking those hard questions help put her plans into perspective. Here are 3 questions I asked:
Do you believe the persons you’re afraid to approach will think less of you or have a more negative perception of you than the perception they already have of you today?
These are people she has positive, admirable relationships. Fyi, after she thought about it for a minute, she lifted her head up and said in an astonished voice, “No!”. The realization was enlightening to her.
In talking to these prospective investors (assuming they are respectful, legitimate businesspeople) is it possible you can learn anything from having these conversations?
Fyi, Dana's answer was an immediate, enthusiastic "YES!".
Will that make you better off than before the conversation?
Her reply, “Oh definitely.” She was so happy to realize how much smarter she will be just having the conversations, regardless of if anyone invests.
Close your eyes and envision you and I talking 12 months from now and you didn’t approach any prospective investors. You’re in the exact same position as you are today. How does that feel?
This was a game-changer for her. The emotion this question evoked was more than she was comfortable hanging onto. She did NOT want to have that feeling in the future. It was the motivation she needed to face those fears.
I once saw a poignant phrase that resonated deeply with me, so much so that I keep the words taped to my computer monitor and it gives me courage every day to take on those tasks that I secretly fear. It goes like this:
My Why Is Bigger Than My Worries.
I don’t know who said it. But I know it’s true. This guiding reminder gives me the courage and the kick in the rear to not allow those fears to hold me back. Sometimes it’s a small reminder or a simple phrase that puts everything into perspective.
I work with so many who have big dreams, but they don’t know how to turn them into action. At some point in their journeys, fear always rears its ugly head. And once we do a deep dive into the true cost of those fears, we find it’s not worth the price. The fear is a useless emotion that holds us back.
I'll be working with Dana for awhile as she gets her plans pulled together. But we both marked our calendars to meet exactly one year from now. At that meeting, we will acknowledge where she is, look back and assess what she learned, and have the satisfaction that she didn't let fear cripple her from pursuing a business she is destined to own.
If you have a business idea and aren’t sure what to do, or if fear is raising its ugly head to you, what questions can you ask yourself to help you assess the cost of the fear. If you aren’t sure, reach out to me and I’ll help you ask those questions. Time is too precious to waste on useless fear. There are many ways to mitigate those fears as well (we’ll talk more on that later). But for now, just be willing to identify them and know what they are costing you.
Jodi Henson is a small business expert, author, entrepreneur and founder of The Softer Side of Success (www.thesoftersideofsuccess.com). She works with aspiring and existing small business owners to help them overcome challenges and attain their goals. If you are looking to define your next steps, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.