Last week, my husband taught me how to ride his motorcycle. He ran beside me as I coasted along, telling me slight adjustments I needed to make, and reminding me over and over again that I needed to drive the bike without fear.
I internalized a deeper lesson from his instructions. So much of an entrepreneur's world is filled with fear. Last week I talked with a business owner who is ready to make her first hire. Her business needs to make a hire so it can grow. But she's hesitating, because she's afraid the candidate won't work out for some reason, or that she won't have enough to cover payroll.
The other day I talked to another group of business owners and asked them about their professional development spending. A few of them mentioned that they were solopreneurs, which for them meant they couldn't invest so freely in courses, coaches, or consultants. The more I listened, the more it was clear that fear of not getting a return on their investment was driving them to not invest in resources that could help them grow.
And in the last few months, I've talked to numerous business owners who have expressed a desire to engage in inclusive marketing but have been reluctant to get started out of fear of making mistakes.
Fear is rampant in the minds of many entrepreneurs. Layer on all the additional uncertainty dealing with a pandemic brings, and fear and anxiety get turned up a notch. As hard as it may seem at times to not be led by fear, we have to work to ensure it doesn't paralyze you into only playing defense.
Let your fear fuel you to start playing offense
When I played basketball in junior high and high school, I loved playing defense. While defense is a critical component of the strategy, the reality is, without offense, you can't win. In your business, it is essential that you play offense. Your company will thrive when you attack your goals by being relentless about doing what is necessary to achieve them.
That doesn't mean that you have to ignore your fears or try to suppress them. Rather, use your fears as a useful resource in ensuring that you play offense to fuel your business' growth.
If you need to hire for instance, use your fear about not making payroll to fuel your offensive attack by building and executing a plan that will generate more than enough revenue to cover your new team members.
If you are fearful about making mistakes with engaging diverse customers who are different from you, use that fear to make it a priority to develop a deep degree of intimacy with those customers. That way you'll know more about what to say, what not to say, and how to build and nurture quality relationships with them over time.
If you have fear about launching a new product, the way I did, use that fear to make sure you do the work to validate your product idea with your ideal customers. Then build and execute an all-in plan that helps you reach your goals.
Fear may be an inevitable part of your journey as a business owner. But with the right approach to it, it can be a useful emotion that propels you to play to win, rather than playing to not lose.