Starting a Business

How to Turn Your Fear into Fuel

Guest Writer
Writer and Author, Specializing in Business and Finance
min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
How to Turn Your Fear into Fuel
image credit: Forces of Geek

Sometimes, the essential risks you face as a small business owner can be more blood-curdling than a posse of evil clowns in a dark alley. Most fears have an element of facing the unknown, says Jonathan Fields, serial entrepreneur and author of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance (Portfolio, 2011).

That fear can become a barrier, holding ‘treps back from taking changes that pay off in the long run, or it can become a motivating force, sharpening the senses and improving performance. Risk of loss, uncertainty, and exposure to judgment are the "three horsemen of fear," he says.

Fields offers these three steps to start using fear as a tool to motivate innovation and growth:

 1. Shine a light on your myths. Look at the major assumptions that are causing the fear, he says. Be clear about what’s scaring you and identify the underlying beliefs that are causing you to think that way. 

Related: How to Break Through Fear and Self-Doubt

Perhaps the recession has left you gun-shy about spending too much money on any one program or you’re just averse to change. Understanding the root of your fears is the first step to determining whether they’re based in reality or pessimism.

2. Creep forward a little at a time. Perhaps you don’t know enough about that prospective new market or you’re afraid that people won’t like your new branding effort. Make a list of the steps you can take to mitigate the risk. Test the branding concepts with a focus group to get feedback.

Learn more about that potential market by going to an industry conference or paying a consultant for some advice. Earmark a bit of your budget to a pilot program for new ventures instead of risking a great deal of money by rolling out unproven hunches.

Related: Richard Branson on Facing Your Fears

3. Look for the boogeyman. As you take your baby steps, watch the results. Is the response to your actions positive or negative? If it’s good, move forward. If your fears are proving to be correct, change your course. But don’t get bogged down in what others think, unless they’re your customers, he says.

As you repeat this basic exercise with different fears in your business, Fields says it will become a natural response to fear. With practice, you’ll become less fearful of phantom menaces and more in tune with measured risks that could reap large rewards.  

More from Entrepreneur

Are paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.
Get Your Quote Now

In as little as seven months, the Entrepreneur Authors program will turn your ideas and expertise into a professionally presented book.
Apply Now

Whether you are launching or growing a business, we have all the business tools you need to take your business to the next level, in one place.
Enroll Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.