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Overcoming Your Fear

May 7, 2011

From E-Myth Worldwide – E-Myth Business Coach

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Every business owner goes through periods of doubt and uncertainty. It doesn’t matter how well or how poorly the business is performing; sooner or later you will find yourself asking the question: Is all this work really worth it?

Small business, after all, is an emotional roller coaster for the owner-manager. Of course it is! There’s so much of you personally vested in this creation of yours. It’s your blood, sweat and tears on the line every day and it can take an emotional toll.

But it’s not really the doubt and uncertainty that cripples you. It’s the actions you take—or fail to take—that determine the future of your business. In other words, what you think and do has the biggest influence on your results.

So what’s a business owner to do? How can you overcome the self-doubt and fear?

First, accept the inevitable. You will feel doubt, discouragement and uncertainty. You don’t know exactly when it will come or in what form; but accept that it will happen. Think of it like getting a shot at your doctor’s office. You know what a shot feels like; you’ve had plenty of them by now in your adult life. Experience has taught you that yes, it will hurt, but not for long and it’s better for you to just grin and bear it. It’s often the unknown that causes anxiety so go ahead and accept that feelings of doubt will absolutely creep in. And that’s ok. Because it’s how you deal with them that matters.

Then, ask yourself which part of you is feeling the doubt. Is it the Technician in you? The Manager? The Entrepreneur? The more you can distinguish between these identities, the more you will be able to manage their conflicting demands on your time and energy. (To learn more about the roles of the Technician, Manager, and Entrepreneur, see Chapters 1 and 2 of The E-Myth Revisited or read this article.)

In my experience as an E-Myth Business Coach, it’s the Technician inside of us that fears change. Your experience may be different, of course, but I would ask you to examine this possibility in more detail.

To do that, let’s look at one of the critical differences between the Technician and the Entrepreneur. The Technician is constantly looking for answers OUTSIDE of himself and does not trust himself. The Technician wants the approval and blessing of some higher authority before he feels comfortable enough to change what he is doing. The Entrepreneur, on the other hand, looks for answers from WITHIN. The Entrepreneur exists to create, to envision things in a new way that does not currently exist in the physical world. The Entrepreneur is constantly asking questions, gathering information and coming up with his own answers. It can be confusing, because the Technician will often ask questions that sound just like the Entrepreneur’s questions. The difference is that the Technician looks to someone else for the answer, while the Entrepreneur trusts only himself to answer.

Once you accept this to be true, your next step is to develop your plan to deal with doubt, discouragement and uncertainty. What does your Technician need when you start feeling this way? What actions could you take? For example, do you need to review your Primary Aim (the words you use to describe the essence of your life) and your Strategic Objective (the vision for your business when it is complete)? Do you need to listen to a favorite motivational tape? Do you need to write in a journal? Do you need to talk with someone you trust about how you are feeling? Do you need to go for a walk or get some other form of exercise? What else could you do to get yourself centered?

This is a deeply personal process, what works for you may not work for someone else. It’s really about identifying what can bring you back to your center, and then using triggers to help you get there. Make a list, keep a reminder nearby and visit it whenever the doubt surfaces.

You may also need to take some action in your business, but make sure you center yourself BEFORE you make any significant business decisions. Base those strategic business decisions on whether or not that decision moves you toward your Strategic Objective. Don’t base it on fear, insecurity, doubt or any other emotions that may cloud your judgment. Be as objective as you can when making those decisions and quantify whatever you can quantify about the situation. Use that objective data to help you make decisions that will move you toward your goals.

Speaking of goals, it’s important to remember that just because another business in the same industry appears to be performing a lot better than yours, that does NOT mean that your business is doing poorly! Your goals are the only ones that count. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your perceived weaknesses against a competitor’s strengths. Your goals are the only ones that matter in your world. Too often, any other form of comparison leads to disappointment.

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt are rarely comfortable emotions to be with. But look at them for what they are: evidence that change is happening. The Technician within you is expressing the fear as a form of resistance to change. Change is inevitable. Change is also necessary if you are going to create the business and the life you really want. Isn’t that why you built your own business in the first place?

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