Every business owner encounters that point where they feel stuck and their business trajectory loses natural momentum. Starting out felt so good, things were moving along nicely and you had some promising runs on the board…and then…it stopped.
But you haven’t done anything wrong, it’s actually a healthy part of your business evolution. The problem is that to keep moving forward, you need to make some kind of change. This prospect can feel daunting, even threatening. Change? Now? Things are going so well!
At this point, many business owners become crippled by the fear that they will make the wrong choice. The real threat is staying still and doing nothing, which, I guarantee you, is the wrong choice. It’s time to face your fear of making a mistake and plot a path to the next level in business.
The first thing to do is figure out what your sticking point is: What’s holding you back?
For your business to have made it this far I’d bet that, to date, you've been careful about your decisions; who you hired, what technology you adopted to enhance engagement, processes and efficiency and how you spent your revenue. If performance is a bit flat in spite of your caution, then it’s possible your restraint is now turning against you.
Most people make the mistake of waiting until conditions are perfect, when risks are low and success is guaranteed before attempting change. There is no such time in life or business. To make it happen, you are going to have to take a leap of faith and find your way when you get there.
You may not be consciously aware of it, but failing to take action in your business is probably due to fear of failure. Even though this fear is putting brakes on your motivation and keeping you from moving forward, it’s nothing the right support can’t resolve.
Chances are you are not hesitating because the business might fail, but because you are afraid (and desperately want to avoid) of how it feels when you fail. Feeling ashamed and humiliated is no picnic, why would you want to put yourself through that again? Especially now that you’ve passed the startup stage and are headed for success.
The psychology behind your fear probably goes all the way back to the schoolyard playground, with those old and very big experiences of making mistakes staying with you and bubbling up with every new challenge. At this point, some people will see their start-up as a success, wrap it up, sell it and move on to the next project, but if you can stick with it, face the challenge and grow with your business, you and your profits will reach incredible heights and break through glass ceilings.
It’s time to start loving mistakes. Rather than seeing mistakes as flawed results, view mistakes as exciting opportunities to learn, get better and grow so you can stop being afraid and start leveraging mistakes to grow your business. That way you transform a near-finished project into the very beginning of a long and highly rewarding success story.
As a human being leading other human beings, you’re bound to encounter mishaps. There’s value in having a constructive mindset that allows you to stay focused on your long-term goals and prevent fear from overriding your innovation.
Fear seems like a logical friend, it’s not, and it's probably been pulling the strings quietly in the background for some time now, making it hard to break free. Being comfortable with taking action and exposing yourself to a bit of risk while scaling your business is a strength you’ll need to build over time and keep working at.
Here are three ways you can start to overcome your hesitation:
Acknowledge that a fear of something could be keeping you from doing major work for your business–whether that’s building the right team or scaling for growth. The learning begins when you accept that you have weaknesses and are scared of things that could bring success.
By getting comfortable doing what you don’t want to do, you get used to what you’re afraid of and priming your business for growth. If you’re uneasy about offering a new service then you can do a pilot run with some of your customers and see how it fares from there.
Getting so caught up in the fear that you don’t even accept you have it can shield you from discomfort, but it also keeps you from starting the work that will put these fears.
Think about how some athletes are just as talented as their peers, but never quite make it to the top of the podium because fear of a new technique holds them back. Even if it’s a margin as slim as 1%, that’s enough of a difference to keep them coasting in the middle of the pack.
Staying in your comfort zone isn’t wrong, but remaining there because you’re afraid of trying something new jeopardises your business success. When you see just how damaging the comfort zone can be to your self-esteem, business growth and personal achievement, it becomes easier to move from your comfort zone to the growth zone to reach personal and professional excellence.
Once you know what you’re scared of, it’s possible to identify what you need to do to get past it.
Giving yourself a vague task to do (“be less afraid of failure!”) is tough and doesn’t help you take any action (at all). A better strategy for overcoming fear is to break it down into smaller tasks.
Ask yourself questions like, “What can I do to be braver about scaling my business?” or, “How can I be bolder about my hiring choices?” This way you start to think about solutions, not stay focused on the problem (fear) and come up with new and effective strategies that were previously hidden from view.
Aim for concrete and achievable next steps. For example, Be comfortable with making some mistakes while working towards excellence! helps divide the challenge into less intimidating tasks that you can integrate into your day and eventually your long-term business strategy.
If you’re afraid your new recruits don’t have enough experience, then you can build a training programme to address the gaps. Try a test run with your team and get their feedback on it so you adjust as you go along, then assign them one major task and see how that goes.
Once you accept you’re afraid of something it’s important not to hold back. Start doing what you need to get over it to show fear who’s really the boss around here. Starting small can help you feel less overwhelmed and reduce the risks so you feel more confident and capable of handling things if it doesn’t go to plan.
Fear is easier to overcome when you stand with others. Seek out a mentor who has already achieved what you are planning to do and find a group of other small business owners who are at (or are close to) your current level. Being surrounded by people who are also in your shoes can encourage you to stand by your decisions and have accountability for your plans and actions.
A mentor that is in tune with your objectives will help you take concrete steps to realise your goals and show you that it’s absolutely possible to succeed when you stay the course. They may not have built their company in the same conditions that you are currently in, but their advice around how they took the plunge in the face of change and uncertainty will be relevant and rewarding.
The best way to power forward and combat your fear is a triple-punch combination.
It’s crucial to stay focused on your vision for your business and not get blinded by fear. While it might seem logical to protect yourself and stay small - or wrap up and find something new, real success lies in taking action that is different, new and challenges you and your business into exponential growth.
Want to make some epic mistakes that feel so wrong but will ultimately take you and your business to new heights of success? We can support you through the process.
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