How to overcome fear in business

Failure. Horrible word. It’s been sending chills down the spines of fleeting entrepreneurs for years. Filling eyes with dread. With caution. With a nagging sense of ‘maybe I won’t do it then…’.

As a nation, we’re rubbish at failure. It’s not particularly something that we should celebrate, but it is something we should see as part of the process. A stepping stone. Albeit an uneven one that chucks you into the river. You can overcome that fear, and fears in general, when you go into business. Here’s how…

(1) Play out worst case scenarios

When you refuse to think about your fears, they grow in your subconscious. Instead of letting that happen, drag them into the light of day and rationalise them. How likely are they to happen? It is important to contain fear and then find a way to work with it.

(2) Break it down

Looking at the big picture can feel overwhelming. So break down the risks and fears into small chunks and consult someone, whether it be an expert, friend or business partner, along the way.

(3) Create a support and mentoring system

Talk to someone with more experience than you, they might have some good ideas to help you move through it. Communicate your fears with your peers.

(4) Accept failure

Failure in the UK is unlikely to be placed on a pedestal the way it is in Silicon Valley; but the limited embrace of failure is too detrimental to innovation and entrepreneurship in the UK to be ignored.

A such, people need to realise that failure is unavoidable. Keep in mind that one failure, or even a list of failures, doesn’t mean that you or your business is a failure.

(5) Reduce your stress

Take a few minutes to collect your thoughts if you are feeling anxious. Fear is like a bully, you may believe it has a strong power over you but when you confront it, it should slowly fade away.

(6) Keep it under control

“There is a part of the brain that is responsible for processing facial expressions and it picks up fear in others almost immediately,” Shaw said. “Control your fear, because others will notice if you don’t.”

(7) Don’t let it ruin your day

She added: “There is no greater rush than doing something positive that you were afraid of doing, whether it be giving a presentation or hiking up Kilimanjaro. Don’t let fear deny you that pleasure. Have you ever heard someone say they regret doing a parachute jump?”

(8) Try to muster up the courage

As Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”, so don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes give you knowledge and makes you stronger.

(10) Preparation is key

This is especially true if you are making a speech or presentation. The more prepared you are the less likely you are to make a mistake or be asked a question you cannot answer. Don’t rush difficult decisions.

You could also come to The Sheffield College and take a Business and Enterprise course, of course! We’ll give you the knowledge to help overcome any fears, and we’ll be there for support all the way through. Sounds alright, that!


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