6 Founders Share What Still Scares Them About Entrepreneurship -- and How They Push Past These Fears

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6 Founders Share What Still Scares Them About Entrepreneurship -- and How They Push Past These Fears
Image credit: Michele Marconi
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the April 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Launching a business is scary, and sometimes running one is even scarier. That's why we asked six seasoned founders: What piece of entrepreneurship still terrifies you, and how do you face it?

1. The money man 

“I’m petrified of my accountant. Coming from a creative background, I’ve long managed to avoid dealing with finances. Now as CEO of a denim brand, I have to manage P&L statements and ensure that we are optimized at every level. Setting a standing appointment with my accountant every two weeks has made it a little less intimidating. Plus, every morning I check the previous day’s sales so we can actively adjust spend in real time and make smarter decisions.”
-- Sarah Ahmed, founder and CEO, Warp + Weft

Related: It's Way Past Time to Let Go of These 7 Entrepreneurship Myths

2. The stage

Public speaking. It turns out I’m shy. People who know me never believe that, but when it comes to speaking in front of a crowd, I get very nervous. Some people are naturals, needing no prep at all. I, on the other hand, prep a lot. I probably overprepare. Once I get up there, I’m comfortable, but the anticipation is what I struggle with, and taking that extra time to thoroughly prep helps ease my mind.”
-- Cheryl Kaplan, co-founder and president, M.Gemi

3. The big decisions

“In the entrepreneurial journey, so many things are new and untested. The kind of data that would typically help me make smart decisions is nonexistent. I’m haunted by what feels like indecision but is really suspicion of my intuition. I think female founders struggle with this more, especially when stakeholders are male -- being armed with data is often how we’ve gained credibility. I take my time making decisions and sleep on the issue before making the final call. I don’t solicit advice, and I limit my screen time to focus on my own thoughts.”
-- Jennie Baik, co-founder and CEO, Orchard Mile

Related: The 6 Scary Truths About Becoming an Entrepreneur

4. The risks 

“No matter how far you get with your company, you live with a fear that it could all fall apart. Even friends who’ve built billion-dollar businesses feel that. At the end of the day, it’s really a fear of failure. You overcome it in two ways. First, gratitude: Be grateful for what you do have, while you have it. Second, presence: Think about what you have to get done each day, rather than what could happen down the road.”
-- Matt Pohlson, co-founder and CEO, Omaze

5. The competition

“I’m afraid a competitor will enter the space and do it as well as -- or better than -- we do. A few years ago, several companies with strikingly similar concepts popped up, with a lot of capital behind them. I really thought they’d put us out of business -- I had nightmares about it. I felt an immense amount of guilt knowing my team was relying on me for their livelihood when there was a chance I’d let them down. I had to tune out the competition and focus on providing the best product and customer experience, not worrying about what was happening around us.”
-- Christina Stembel, founder, Farmgirl Flowers

Related: 9 of the Scariest Business Stories You'll Ever Hear

6. The hiring

“I’m terrified I’ll hire the wrong people as we grow, leading to wasted time and money and the creation of cultural chaos. Some level of this is inevitable, especially in a fast-paced startup. We screen, get references, do cultural fit assessments and plan to the best of our ability. Still, mistakes happen. But we can learn from everyone we meet. That way, even if they’re not a fit, or if change has to happen, it was a valuable experience.”
-- Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO, Stella & Dot

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