Entrepreneurs - Can You Manage Your Fears!

An entrepreneur’s life is full of challenges and with every challenge lies a lurking fear of failure! On one hand, the ‘to-do’ list seems never ending, with product inception, management, engineering, go-to-market strategies, funding and scale. On the other hand, the ‘what-if’ list is even longer because with every step taken forward in unchartered territory, there is always a chance of what-if things-don’t-work-out-the-way-you anticipated/planned-for situation.

Entrepreneurs, the ‘what-ifs’ will start to hound you from the very beginning. What-if others don’t see great value proposition in your start-up idea? Well, you crossed that hurdle, but what-if you are not able to convince some of the peers to join you in the quest as co-founders? Great, you got yourself co-founders, but then what-if the team dynamics don’t work out as expected? What-if there is a lot of friction and things start to go astray? You managed that and have a working prototype, but what-if the go-to-market strategy does not work out and your ‘expected customers’ aren’t really adopting the product the way you had expected? And finally, the mother of all fears: what-if you are not able to secure funding!

The point I am trying to make is that this list of ‘what-ifs’ and the associated fear of failure is never ending. It’s like the video game where you hammer a monkey to make it settle, just to discover that a new one has sprung his head somewhere else!

And the worst scenario - you start spending your time much more on the fear of ‘what-if’ rather than fixing the issue at hand and learning from it.

Entrepreneurship is all about taking a leap of faith and a self belief – let me see if I can make it happen against all odds.’ If you lose self confidence and the innate desire to succeed, you are expediting your demise. Because, once you start trudging along the path of fear and self-doubts, it freezes your capacity to take productive actions. You may start spending hours brooding over “where this is all leading to...” rather than what needs to be done next to get back on track and make the going smoother!

Too much fear about the future can actually cloud your thinking and prevent you from taking the right steps for a successful future. So, as a founder of a start-up, you must know how to manage your fears. Everyone has their own way to deal with fears and what-ifs. Some folks workout physically to reinforce confidence; others could use a drink with friends to lighten the weight. What many find particularly useful is to talk it out with mentors and co-founders.

Essentially, what is required is to spit the fear out rather than keep chewing upon it; only to let it spread like slow poison.

Personally, when I start to get bogged down, I just remind myself that playing out infinite scenarios for failure in the mind can’t be the recipe for success. Success is obviously not a part of the numerous failures, by virtue of mutual exclusion! So, if I am spending too much time analysing on the ‘what-ifs’ of failure, I am obviously not spending enough time for finding the ‘this is it’ for success. How then, can I expect success?

So, step back for a ‘que sera sera, whatever will be will be’ moment and try harder.

Thoughts?