The big list of running-your-own-business fears (+ how to do scary shit anyway)
Oct. 17, 2016
Truth: Most bosses are scared to death 97.2 percent of the time. This blog post is loaded with 99 absolutely normal business fears plus the resources you need to conquer each and every one of them. How boss is that?!
Also: According to the Bureau of Made Up Statistics, 93 percent of all quoted statistics are made up on the spot. File that under #funfact with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, please.
Fear is unpleasant—that’s what Oxford and Merriam-Webster say. It intimately entwined with anxiety. The difference between the two is that fear is rooted in a present situation or stimulus, while anxiety deals with the future—something that hasn’t happened yet and may, indeed, never happen (thanks, New York Times!).
Fear is what protects us from danger. It’s an evolutionary emotional response that keeps us safe. Except, as bosses, we tend to experience fear about situations that are more awkward or uncomfortable than physically harmful.
The fear we feel as bosses doesn't protect us; it hurts us. It prevents us from doing the hard work.
So, why are we scared of things that aren’t a legitimate threat? Often, it’s a result of past trauma, according to Psychology Today. It might seem trivial to our ancestors, but dealing with a bad boss or an online troll sticks in our psyches far longer than the physical fall-out.
The line between the two is hairline thin and wayyy too easy to cross. For online bosses like you and me, the digital world is so essential and our relationships with the people we meet there are so vibrant that the Internet feels tangible. Our anxieties over these online what-ifs are very real. They are true-blue fears.
Needless to say, fear is a big-time bitch. But bitches are everywhere. It’s time to confront this B and persevere in spite of her.
The best way to not think about what you’re currently terrified of? Reading an enormous list of things you’ve been scared of in the past and will probably be scared of in the future. I mean, obvi, right? Lucky you, kiddo!
Quitting your full-time job
Sharing your Big Dream with your person
Sending your first marketing email
Paying for a monthly service
Securing a domain name
Setting up your website solo
Introducing yourself in a Facebook group of bosses
Joining a networking meet-up
Launching an ad
Asking for feedback from other business owners
Publishing your first blog post
Going live on Facebook
Sharing personal stories on Instagram
Deciding what to do about haters and trolls on social media
Sending your biggest proposal yet
Following up on an unpaid invoice
Enforcing your contract terms
Taking down your website’s “under construction” page
Settling on a color palette
Raising your prices
Putting your first product up for sale
Making an estimated tax payment
Choosing a self-employed insurance plan
Signing a contract with a fellow boss
Taking an unpopular stand online
Pitching a guest post
Ordering nicer-than-budget-paper business cards
Losing a long-time client
Requesting a testimonial or recommendation
Proposing a collaboration with another business owner
Stepping onstage at a speaking gig
Selecting a niche
Asking your target audience to fill out a survey
Automating your business processes
Hiring an employee
Taking a vacation
Turning down a full-time job offer
Bailing on a client project when you’re over your head
Launching a product that’s expensive enough to justify a payment plan
Skyping with a boss who is way more successful than you are
Being a podcast guest
Accidentally copying someone else
Starting an enormous project with a new program
Checking your Google Analytics after a couple of months
Signing a lease without a steady income
Meeting a new client face-to-face
Attending a conference
Explaining what you do to somebody new
Deciding to rebrand your business
Firing someone you hired
Filing your business with your state
Hiring a professional, like a lawyer or an accountant
Picking the social media networks you’re going to use
Taking someone to small claims court
Making a plan for what happens with your projects and clients in case you die
Collaborating on a joint venture
Writing your about page
Pitching your services
Not being taken seriously
Sending a cold email to a dreamy client
Deleting old, irrelevant blog posts
Taking a break from social media
Working with a business coach
Updating your financial spreadsheets
Filing your taxes as a self-employed business owner
Your competition is better at what you do that you are
Dealing with a plagiarist
Responding to hate mail
Discovering an inquiry you missed from a few months back
Deciding what to do with your stuff when you need to pee while working at Starbucks
Missing out on a project you’d be perfect for
Forgetting about an important call
Someone else launching an idea that you were too scared to run with
Losing your phone (and your calendar with it)
Your website crashing on a really, really important day
Not syncing your opt-in forms with your email server properly…and losing heaps of sign-ups
Crafting a longform sales page
Calculating how much you “invested” in courses and e-books that you still haven’t started
Snapping your own headshots
Celebrating a small win in a public space
Someone realizing you’re not the expert you said you were
Doing something illegal without realizing it
Updating your plugins in the wrong order and breaking your website
Firing a client
Wasting time DIYing graphics that aren’t even the right size
Sending your favorite brand your media kit
Missing a stupid, obvious typo in something you’re otherwise super proud of
Losing the motivation to be your own boss
Including your home address on your email newsletters
Giving someone else, like a developer or VA, the passwords to my business accounts
A lead telling you you’re too expensive
Not meeting your earnings goals for the quarter
Your webinar tech not working, even though you triple-checked everything
Only selling products when you discount them
Waking up to fewer followers than you had when you went to bed
Moving your established website from one platform to another
Neglecting another important part of your life for the sake of your business
Your last great idea was really your last great idea. That’s it. No more.
Boom, baby. Fear in the flesh—or, at the very least, fear in all its black-and-white pixelated glory.
Just do it. Sure, you could do that. But since I procrastinate my way to hell and back before I do the scary thing, I figured I’d tell you what I do, instead. It’s pretty simple.
First, you pick your scary thing. Let’s go with No. 57: writing your about page.
Second, you break that big, scary thing into baby steps. (I know, baby steps. I told you it was simple.) For No. 57, your baby steps might look like this:
Third, you add baby step No. 1 to your to-do list today. And you do it. And you feel good about doing it.
Fourth, you add baby step No. 2 to your to-do list sometime in the next week. It could be tomorrow, or it could be next Monday. I vote for sooner rather than later. “Just do it” does have its uses, after all.
Fifth, keep working your way down the list of baby steps until you reach the very last one.
Sixth, cross this fear off your list. Move forward. Good work, boss!
This worksheet will walk you through the steps in the last section. In one page, I’ll take you from terrified to pretty much OK about things. And if not quite OK, strong enough and ready enough to move forward anyway.
I know bossing it out is scary. But come on. Let’s do it together.
I see you, boss. I see you here, on this website, and I see you on social. If this post touched you, helped you, landed in your bookmarks, please consider sharing it with your friends and followers. Pay it forward!
99 fears and working through 'em ain't one. Learn how to get 'er done in 3 steps.
When it comes to being the boss you need to be to grow your biz, what scares you the most?
You are 1 worksheet + 6 steps away from working w/ your fears to get shit done. Let's do this, boss.