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Launching a business is not for the faint of heart. Even those who have been at it for years and appear to be "successful" are plagued with anxiety and fear. Some of their fears may seem irrational to you, while others are ones you may experience yourself.
Is it possible that the secret ingredient to becoming a successful entrepreneur is to never let go of your fear? Maybe. But one thing for certain, it isn't always easy to share your fears with others.
Many entrepreneurs feel it's their job to exude confidence to instill trust in their customers, employees and investors. As a result, they hide their feelings and their fears become secrets.
We asked six entrepreneurs to share their secrets with us:
1. "I worry that I'll work so tirelessly that I'll miss out on living or enjoying my life. That includes spending time with my family. I have twin toddlers and don't want them to grow up feeling like they're competing with the back of my iPhone or laptop. I want to be present and undistracted when we are together. I want those times to be often and enduring, not cut short by an incoming email or call. I want to be able to have free time to just think or read or take a leisurely walk just without a looming pressure that I'm neglecting someone or something. When I first started my company, being busy made me feel important. Now, having free time (I work on vacation, nights and weekends) feels like the ultimate sign of success."
2. "I'm afraid of the thought of not having enough cash flow from month-to-month that my utilities are disconnected and my business comes to a complete halt. I've cried so many tears at just the mere thought of this becoming a reality."
3. "My biggest fear is when working closely with industry partners, such as suppliers, that they will see the success that we are having as a smaller company and swoop in with bigger pockets and cut us out."
4. "My greatest fear is that I'm not cut out to be an entrepreneur. Before I opened my own business, I resented the corporate world with its soul crushing, meaningless goal to maximize profits, along with the crap that goes with it (long hours, bad bosses, pointless meetings).However, now that I have my own business, I realize becoming an entrepreneur wasn't the answer to my problems. To be successful, you wind up working longer hours with no guaranteed paycheck, no structure, or co-workers to talk to. And, despite what you've read in glossy magazines about the laid-off worker who becomes a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, those stories represent less than 1% of all business owners. Most entrepreneurs realize, like I have, that it's hard to enjoy yourself when you're worried where your next client is coming from or whether you hired the right person to fill an important but dead-end role in your business. In fact, I miss paid vacations, group benefits, and having coworkers to commiserate with."
5. "I worry that I may die before I finish what I've started. I'm a 70% disabled veteran of the US Army and when I was medically discharged I was told I will probably develop cancer in my thirties. I'm now thirty one."
6. "As a female entrepreneur, I worry that no matter how great my product is I will forever continue to be underfunded, underpaid, and receive less credit than my male cofounders. At the end of the day 'Entrepreneur Barbie' is still Barbie and male cofounders are not patronized with 'Business Man Ken'. The expected appearance of who is successful matters so much that every roadblock overcome is faced with ten new hurdles down the road. I don't believe that we'll see an end to gendered second-class citizenship for women in business in my lifetime and even less movement for women of color."
What scares you the most as an entrepreneur?