At some point on the solopreneur-ship path, your fears will stop you cold.
You’ll be rockin’ along, humming lightly and feeling mighty proud of yourself, and then BLAM – next thing you know, you’re cowering in the corner, figuratively speaking, shivering and eyeing nervously That Thing.
You know That Thing.
It’s the Thing that scares you.
It is … your Nemesis.
And dollars to doughnuts, cupcakes, whatever That Thing looks like for you, it’s really just a big old black hole of FEAR, dressed up for Halloween.
How Fears Road-Block Us on the Path to Success
We’re always talking to ourselves. An endless repeating loop of chatter that we call our “thoughts.”
When the talk turns to the Dark Side, we get negative self-talk. And that negative self-talk becomes the truth for our subconscious minds, even though it’s really just opinion – and opinion based on subjective perceptions, at that.
At some point along the road, negative self-talk can turn even darker, and become a limiting set of beliefs. Beliefs are nothing more than thoughts that we hold over a long period of time which become internalized.
In order to deal effectively with those beliefs-cum-fears, we have to get to know them intimately, by asking ourselves a series of questions:
- What am I afraid of?
- How did I become afraid of this?
- How is it stopping me from achieving what I want to achieve?
- Is this fear based on rational or irrational beliefs & assumptions?
Kinds of Fears Solopreneurs Routinely Face
When you get right down to it, solopreneur-dom is pretty freaking scary. We face fears every single day, to varying degrees.
What’s interesting about these fears, though, is that sooner or later, they all break down into one of two basic fears: the fear of failing and the fear of success.
Think about it:
- Afraid of raising your prices? You’re really afraid of being rejected, which means failure. (Also, you should read this.)
- Afraid of hiring the wrong person? You’re really afraid of being taken advantage of, which means you’re afraid of success, or you’re afraid of being left with nothing, which means you’re afraid of failing.
- Afraid you’ll end up a bag lady? You’re really afraid of failing.
- Afraid you’ll get so big you can’t handle it? You’re really afraid of success.
- Afraid of marketing yourself assertively or asking for the sale? You’re really afraid of being rejected, which means you’re afraid of failing.
The Fear of Technology
But one of the most insidious kinds of fear I see every day in my solopreneur clients is the fear of technology. It’s everywhere – even though most folks don’t recognize it for what it is – and it’s insidious.
In fact, it’s insidious precisely because it’s so prevalent, and so paralyzing, but also so easily overcome.
What these clients are really afraid of is failing, mostly – though occasionally it’s a fear of success (“technology will grow my business to a point where I’m no longer comfortable with it”) – failing so hard they’ll break their website, or make a stupid gaffe on social media they can’t ever recover from, and their business will die painfully.
Some of the most common areas I see technology fears include:
- Website building – by far, the most common example (HTML and CSS are confusing to a novice, and an errant bit of PHP code can in fact “break” your site, at least temporarily, so this one’s not entirely irrational)
- Writing marketing copy or content for your marketing plan
- Social media
- QR codes
- Email marketing and autoresponders
How to Conquer Your Fears
No matter what you’re afraid of, a basic four-step process can help you overcome it:
- ID the fears precisely: Play the “what’s the worst that can happen?” game with yourself. Explore the contours of that fear down to its cellular level.
- Get to the root of the fear: What caused it? What beliefs underlie it? Where’d you learn that crap anyway? What pain are you avoiding by NOT doing this thing? What pleasure do you get from not doing it? (Hint: There’s always something you gain, or you wouldn’t be doing it the way you’re doing it.)
- Raise your stakes: Get crystal clear on your reasons why by listing out what pleasure you’ll gain from conquering the fear and doing the thing that scares you, and what pain you’ll avoid by doing so.
- Get a plan: Find a way to learn the new thing; set aside time to practice or study at it; hire someone to hold your hand, figuratively speaking, while you get good at it.
If fear of website technology is your fear, by the way, you might want to check out this course I’m teaching in June through Progressive Business Tech Training. It’s a week-long intensive on HTML and CSS, and I promise you: I make that stuff FUN. You’ll be building websites from scratch by the end of the week! BONUS: Don’t sign up at that link – instead, contact Garth Knowlton at PB (by phone at 610.695.8600 Ext. 328, or email him here) and get a 15% discount!
Now, a little warning about that whole “get a plan” thing. You might be tempted to start by diving into Google or Bing. Do not do this! At least, not right off the bat. What happens all too often, I find, is that the sheer volume of results from a (usually) vague and imprecise search will overwhelm you into thinking you were right to be afraid of this thing all along. You don’t know enough about this thing (whatever it is) yet to know what you need to ask, so don’t start with the search engines.
Instead, start with a human touch. Reach out to friends on Facebook and Twitter. Post something like “I want to learn more about XYZ. Anybody got any recommendations for some good beginner sources?”
Even better: identify specific people you know who are familiar with the subject and ask them to chat with you for a few minutes. Pick their brains. In case you haven’t yet noticed, folks LOVE to feel that they’re viewed as experts and are more than eager to share the knowledge when asked politely!
Once you have at least a rough idea of the contours of what you’re facing, then you can hit the search engines and Amazon.
Conquer Those Fears!
Look, you’re a smart cookie. You’re resourceful – if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading about this stuff to begin with, now, would you?
You can totally do That Thing.
This post is part of the awesome Word Carnival. Read more posts on this month’s theme: Vanquish Your Nemesis: A Guide to Conquering Small Biz Evils.