How to Overcome Your Entrepreneurial Fears

11/03/2016 08:53 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2017

Tim Robbins often talks about the phenomenon of "wantrepreneurs." You know, the hundreds of thousands of people out there with an idea that never materializes. They might get as far as designing a website or business card, maybe even getting a patent approved, but then something holds them back.

Lack of time, not enough money, or perhaps the realization that their brainwave idea sucks after all. In other cases, though, the biggest roadblock on the way to success for many an entrepreneur is fear. Cold, hard, all-encompassing fear that grips them tightly and haunts their dreams at night.

What if no one buys my product? What happens if the market crashes? What if I give up my well-paying 9-to-5 and risk losing everything?

Yep. Fear sure is an ugly beast and if you don't learn to overcome it as an entrepreneur, that viscous voice inside your head can grow into a monster. Let's take a look at four common fears facing entrepreneurs -- and what you can do to get over them.

1. What If the Market Crashes?
If the main thing holding you back is the worry about what would happen to your product or service if the market crashes, then you're not alone. It's a very real concern. The earth moves. Forests burn. And markets crash. It's a fact of life. Tell anyone circa 2007 that banking giant, Lehman Brothers, would come crashing down and almost collapse the world's financial system -- and they would have thought you were smoking something illegal.

The point here is not to go into your business waiting for markets to crash, but rather developing contingency plans to adapt your model should the unthinkable happen. Erik Huberman, CEO of Hawke Media, started his business just as the economy was beginning to recover.

Having always heard that, in a crisis, "marketing is the first thing to go," his fear of external forces crushing his business were palpable. So, he began to figure out ways of adapting the traditional marketing agency model into an "a la carte" option to serve the needs of a different, less committal type of market. Hawke Media went from eight employees to over 60 in less than three years.

2. What If People Don't Take Me Seriously?
Whether it's the face of a bully at school, an over-demanding parent, or that pesky inner voice of yours; the fear of not being taken seriously can stop entrepreneurs in their tracks. But keep in mind that every successful corporation started from humble beginnings. Everyone has to start somewhere. You may not have the backing or revenue streams you'd like, but if you have a solid business model you believe in, people will sit back and listen.

Lloyd Marino, CEO of Avetta Global, an LA based technology company, struggled with his fear of not being taken seriously when it came to one of his first clients. He recognized a very real problem with their business model that required a complete overhaul of their workflow - and "a boatload of money" to implement. After going back and forth in his mind, he decided to follow his instincts. Having the courage of his convictions, he got the approval he was looking for and saved the client "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

3. What If My Lack of Experience Gets in The Way?
Joseph Nejman, President of ShareRails, had a vision of converging retail and social media to change how products were sold. An awesome plan in today's increasingly digital environment. So, what was holding him back? His fear of being a newbie in the retail space. "I was worried our lack of experience in retail and other areas would be our death."

If you're concerned about not knowing the industry you're planning on launching in, you wouldn't be the first. If you want to see your dreams into fruition, you'll need to find the right people who can help you carry them out. Whether that's a killer CTO or CMO, an angel investor, or strategic partnership. Nejman overcame his lack of experience by finding "in-depth retail knowledge in an early investor." Aligning with Grace Beauty Capital allowed ShareRails to "fill in the gaps" and overcome lack of experience through collaboration.

4. Can I Really Compete in a Saturated Market?
Entertainment, retail, health and fitness - almost every industry you look at has a pretty hefty competition to go up against. Lauren Tracy, CEO of Blue Fever, knows a thing or two about that. "We're building a better 'Netflix' for millennial women with X-Factor Films," she states, knowing exactly how bold this statement sounds.

How does Tracy overcome her fear of not finding her place in the market? With a firm belief that passion trumps fear - "we NEED a space to deal with the reality of our times." If you stay focused on your project and keep your passion and enthusiasm high, pretty soon your fear will dissipate as you find your space.

What's holding you back from your million-dollar idea? What's keeping you from launching the next Facebook, Twitter, or Airbnb and keeping you in the ranks of the wantrepreneurs? If you don't want to spend a life wondering what it would have been like having the courage to fulfill your dreams, then it's about time you learned to crush your fears.