Blind Faith

Don't worry! We'll tell you how to overcome your feelings of intimidation and reach your goals.

You feel mixed emotions as you consider leaving your day job to work for yourself. One moment, you're so pumped, you can't think about anything else. But the next, you're stricken with fear, intimidated by the uncertainty that lies ahead. (What if I fail? What do I even know about starting a business, anyway?)

"[Intimidation] is a feeling that somehow you aren't good enough," explains David Verchere, 33, CEO of Corporate Gear LLC, a New York City exchange and application service provider for the promotional products industry that recently closed a $1.5 million financing round. "We all classify ourselves in relation to others. When we apply that to our ambitions, we don't always see our potential, but rather our limitations."

Richard Kaufman, 31, agrees. "When you're intimidated, you feel doubt and uncertainty about whether you're up to the challenges that life throws your way," says Kaufman, president and CEO of Sweepsclub.com, a Deerfield Beach, Florida, direct Internet marketing company. "You wonder if your ideas will be accepted by your family and business associates. And then there is a fear of failure...especially when you have successful competitors."

Every aspiring entrepreneur gets intimidated to some degree. That's a given. Here's how they overcome those feelings of intimidation and accomplish their goals:

  • Learn, learn, learn. "The more you know [about your business]," Verchere advises, "the less intimidated you'll be when people confront you with new situations." How do you get over the learning curve? Block out 10 to 30 minutes each day to read industry publications and books. Study your competitors religiously. What are their latest developments? How can you better differentiate your company? "Knowing your product and competition will help you overcome the intimidation you may be feeling," says Kaufman.
  • Never let them see you sweat.What should you do if you don't know the answer to a question at, say, a sales call or investor presentation? Stay cool. Whatever you do, don't act defensive. If you're not sure of the answer to a question, calmly admit "I don't know, but I know exactly where I can get the answer. I'll be happy to get it for you ASAP." When you keep your poise, no matter what, you build credibility with those who challenge you.
  • Don't fear failure."Even some of the most celebrated business leaders, like Steve Jobs with Apple Computer, have [at times] fallen on their faces with the companies they have launched," says Kaufman. "Yet, even with failure comes a learning curve that can help you be successful in your next endeavour. It's important to remember that failure is an ingredient of success."
  • Get the right perspective. Suppose, for example, you're having trouble getting clients to pay you on time. The reason is most likely that, deep down, you feel "guilty" about invoicing clients, as if you must apologize for charging for your products and services. Now, this feeling, especially with your first customers, is normal. You need the business and want happy customers. But if you allow this thinking to dominate you, you'll come across as a pushover to customers- they'll take advantage.

Sean M. Lyden (seanlyden@mindspring.com) is the principal and senior writer of The Professional Writing Firm Inc., a Kennesaw, Georgia, company that specializes in ghostwriting articles. Lyden writes frequently on motivation, management and marketing issues. What psychological obstacles to success are you trying to overcome? Tell us at bsumag@entrepreneur.com.

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Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service of The Professional Writing Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that "positions" clients as leading experts in their field-through ghost-written articles and books for publication. Clients include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust Service Corp. and several professional advisory and management consulting firms nationwide.

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This article was originally published in the July 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Blind Faith.

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