As an executive business coach, it's fair to say that most business owners intuitively understand that in order to develop a successful company we must be prepared to put in long hours, days and nights of work. We tell ourselves, friends, mentors and advisors that we are motivated to succeed at all costs and will not give up until we can offer jobs, fulfill a need in the marketplace, meet our personal lifestyle goals, and achieve financial freedom and a sense of purpose.
But the truth is, there's a huge roadblock that paralyzes our growth in its tracks. No, I'm not talking about being denied a loan from a bank, not getting a contract or even receiving a bad review on Yelp. Rather, small business owners are plagued with fears the size of a mustard seed, which grow, paralyze and harm their business growth. In my executive coaching business, I routinely hear CEOs express these top 5 fears that prevent their growth.
1. Fear of Failure
- Many business owners are afraid of failing at running their business. They think failure is indicative of their character, a sign of times to come, and a reminder that it was a bonehead move to quit your job to chase a pipe dream. However, successful entrepreneurs will attest that failure comes with any and all business. Without experiencing failure, how would you've learned that the product line or service you launched just wasn't ready; how would you've learned that your business model is ineffective and that you should shift to another model; how would you've have the internal fortitude to continue to persevere. Instead of belittling ourselves for failing in our business or life, we must realize that failure is an opportunity to improve upon a mistake, get the kinks out so we can move one step closer to achieving success and is not indicative of our character.
2. Fear of Success
- Surprisingly many business owners are afraid of what comes with success. They are afraid of the additional demands on their life, family, hobbies and career that come with new contracts and employees, increased sales, and a need for expansion. Thus, they avoid prospecting, pursuing and bidding on new contracts, or developing their company into an industry-leading expert. To reduce the fear that success brings, business owners need to surround themselves with and develop a team of smart, talented individuals who are eager to get the job done. It takes time to build a winning team, but it can be done if the right amount of time and resources are invested to hiring the best and avoiding the rest.
3. Fear of What Others Will Think
- Business owners likely won't admit this, but many are afraid of what others think of them, thus stalling the growth of their company. I admit this was a problem for me as I pursued Human Resource contracts with companies. I was worried that they would view my healthy follow-up as a sign of a desperate, thirsty business owner. To be viewed as desperate and thirsty is a negative blow to my ego and company. To remedy worrying about what others think, I had to realize that I had a service that was beneficial to these companies, and I had to put my pride aside, hit the pavement, and eagerly, not desperately follow-up with prospects - otherwise I will always be working for someone else who will determine how much money I would make.
4. Fear of Sales
- Business owners often fear sales because no one enjoys cold calling prospects to get their business, having their proposal rejected or meeting resistance because a prospect wants to wrangle over a few hundred dollars. Early entrepreneurs who haven't yet developed a repertoire of sales strategies or closings to get a deal or don't have enough money to pay a sales rep, especially abhor the idea of sales. To remedy the fear of sales, a business owner can either enroll in a sales training course which is offered by some of the top business organizations in the country, or they can get a sales coach who can teach them the psychology of selling and closing and attend sales calls with them to provide feedback on how to be a better salesperson.
5. Fear of Networking
- For those of us who dislike cold calling prospects, networking is the next best strategy to meet warm potential leads. Business owners who attend networking events such as trade shows, breakfasts or luncheons can meet potential prospects that can likely become customers. However, business owners fear networking because they feel they have the gift of gab to talk with prospects. The main thing to gain from networking is to be strategic about the events you attend, and don't attend the events with the intent of getting new business. Rather, attend events with the expectation to meet new people who you can help by providing introductions or giving them insight on trends in the industry. When you are viewed as someone they trust, you will find it's easier to get business. Additionally to eliminate the fear of networking, practice your elevator speech prior to attending these events so you can feel comfortable talking about your business.
Business owners who can quickly address these top 5 fears will likely be able to meet their goals of developing their company into an industry-leading business, offering jobs in the community, having financial freedom, and achieving a sense of purpose.