Get All Access for $5/mo

31 Ways to Overcome Your Startup Jitters Don't let fear stop you from starting a biz! These tips will help you find the guts to be your own boss.

By Suzanne Mulvehill

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most startup articles focus on the mechanics of launching abusiness. But the inner journey to starting a business is just asimportant as writing a business plan and getting financing. Ilearned this the hard way.

With a business plan and hard-earned savings in hand, Ididn't have the guts to leave my job. After quitting my job andtaking it back twice, I developed techniques to help myself buildcourage and break through my fears. These techniques worked--andwhen I quit for the third time, I was finally able to let go of myjob and start Profit Strategies in Lake Worth, Florida, in1998.

What started out as a marketing consulting firm eventuallyevolved into an entrepreneurial advocacy business. After acceptinga contract with a Small Business Development Center, I taught morethan 500 entrepreneurs the techniques I used to help myself. In2003, I wrote Employee to Entrepreneur: The Employee's Guideto Entrepreneurial Success, coined the term "EmotionalEndurance," and developed Emotional Endurance trainingprograms. Today, I present Emotional Endurance techniques atconferences in the United States and abroad, host The EntrepreneurHour Radio Show (Mondays at noon EST,, moderate an online discussiongroup on business networking site, and head up a series ofonline interactive seminars titled "Getting theGuts".

The following 31 strategies are ones I share in my book and inmy workshops. They've worked for me and can work for you,too:

1. Say yes to your yearning. You don't have to knowat this moment what you will do or how you will do it. Simplyacknowledge the inner voice that's been nudging you to ventureinto the world of entrepreneurship. Write "Yes! I accept myyearning!" on a big piece of paper, and post it on your wall,just to remind yourself that you are moving forward. It took me twoyears to write down those five words, but once I did, I began tosee the possibility of being my own boss.

2. Start a journal. Use it daily to write down yourideas, goals, feelings and whatever is going on in your life.Keeping a journal helps you get to know yourself better, andyou'll see your progress when you look back. My journal wasespecially helpful to me when I was scared and could read abouttimes when I felt confident.

3. Write down your goals. Studies have revealed thatpeople who write down their goals are five times more likely toachieve them. When would you like to start a business? Leave yourjob? How much money would you like to have saved? Set goals, andwork toward achieving them.

4. Visualize your success. Create a vision of what youdesire as an entrepreneur, and write it down. In my businesscounseling experience, the clients who created visions were mostlikely to experience them. Ask questions like "What kind ofoffice space do I want to work in?" and "What kind ofclients do I want to serve?"

5. Create and read affirmations. Affirmations are "Iam" statements about what you want to happen, written in thepresent tense as if they are already happening. "I am asuccessful entrepreneur" is a good one to start with. Create alist of 10 to 20 affirmations on index cards. Hang them whereyou'll see them and read them daily. Affirmations helped mebelieve in myself, and launch and grow my business.

6. Evaluate your beliefs. Grab a sheet of paper and writeyour beliefs about yourself, money, your business and the future onthe left. See if these beliefs reflect what you want to believe. Ifnot, write your new beliefs on the right, and add them to youraffirmations. One client of mine discovered that his beliefs aboutmoney were actually his parents' beliefs, so he created newbeliefs that were more closely aligned with his goals.

7. Do what you love. This helps you discover and clarifywhat you want to do as an entrepreneur. If you don't know whatyou love to do, think back to what you loved to do as a kid. When Iwas a child, I loved to teach imaginary children math. When Istarted my business, I began giving seminars locally; I now presentat national and international conferences.

8. Do something different every day. Shake up yourroutine, and get used to change. One of my clients thought thiswould be an easy exercise, and she later told me it took her threedays just to get up on the other side of the bed. Her littlechanges helped release her fears and prepare her for starting abusiness.

9. Act "as if." Start acting as if you are yourown boss. Feel what it's like to make your own schedule andgenerate your own revenue. Once my clients started doing this, theyrealized it built their confidence.

10. Go out and scare yourself. Are you afraid of doingsomething, saying something or going somewhere? Do it afraid! Beingafraid and doing it anyway builds courage and confidence. One of myclients made up the maxim "Do it afraid!" to help hertake action and challenge herself to do things that scare her.

11 to 20

11. Spend time in nature. Do some gardening, or take awalk on the beach or in the forest. Natural environments offerclarity and inner peace and can be especially nurturing duringtimes of transition and change.

12. Accept all your feelings. You can expect all kinds offeelings as you start or even think about starting your ownbusiness. Feelings like vulnerability, uncertainty, doubt, fear andinsecurity are all normal and expected. Create a positive innerdialog with yourself, and talk about your feelings with a trustedfriend. Remind yourself that you are OK.

13. Finish unfinished business. Make a list of thingsthat bother you and need to be completed, repaired or finalized.Make room for your new business by finishing the things on yourlist one by one. My list included things like fixing a leakingrefrigerator, letting go of a grudge and weeding my garden.

14. Get educated. Knowledge is power. Take classes orattend seminars to learn practical skills to start, market and growyour business. One client who was starting his business attended apress-release writing workshop; the new skills he acquired resultedin his business being featured in a newspaper.

15. Accept and believe compliments. When people firsttold me they enjoyed my presentations, I didn't believe them.Over time, I accepted and believed the compliments and built myconfidence about my speaking abilities.

16. Acknowledge your gifts. Recognize and acknowledgeyour gifts and special talents. What would you like to do even ifyou weren't paid for it? I discovered I was a writer when Iwrote an award-nomination letter for a friend and she won.Eventually, I began getting paid for my writing talents.

17. Give up excuses. If you hear yourself making excuses,write them down and become consciously aware of them. One of myexcuses was that I was not the entrepreneurial type. I changed thisexcuse into the following affirmation: I am capable of doingwhatever I set my mind to.

18. Eliminate "I can'ts." Become aware ofwhen and why you say "I can't," and change it to anopen-ended question like "How can I?" One client changedher "I can't" statement from, "I can't get aloan because my credit is bad" to, "How can I get aloan?" She met with a debt consolidator, worked on repairingher credit, started her business with savings and eventually got aloan.

19. Accept confusion. Confusion is part of the process ofstarting a business. Write about it in your journal, talk about itwith friends, and know that it will pass. I realized through my ownexperience and the experience of clients that confusion passes mostquickly when we accept it.

20. Know there is no "right" time.Entrepreneurs have started businesses in debt, with little money,with lots of money, with little experience and in all sorts ofcircumstances. One of my colleagues started her business with$30,000 in debt and a whole lot of perseverance. Last year, she wonan entrepreneur of the year award.

21 to 31

21. Start small. You don't need to start yourbusiness with a big bang. Be realistic and ask yourself, "Whatdo I really need to start a business?" Then start. One clientcame to me thinking he needed a $25,000 loan to start. He leftrealizing he could start his business without any loan at all.

22. Say no when you mean no and yes when you mean yes.Next time you're asked to do something, say yes or no dependingon what you really want to do. If you haven't decided yet, say,"I'll have to get back to you." One of my clientspracticed this exercise, and it expanded her sense of self-worth,resulting in her raising her consulting fees.

23. Resist self-judgment. If you hear yourself sayingthings like "That's a stupid idea," gently remindyourself that you're choosing to accept yourself as you startand grow your business. My clients often find that as they becomemore accepting of themselves, new and creative ideas come to themto help grow their businesses.

24. Stay out of overwhelm. Next time you feeloverwhelmed, write down what situation, thought or feeling promptedyou to feel overwhelmed. Do this each time you are overwhelmeduntil you see patterns develop, and then decide what action youneed to take to stay out of overwhelm. One client realized thatpaying bills was overwhelming, and he constantly paid bills late.The actions he took included meeting with an accountant, payingbills on a schedule and getting accounting software.

25. Expect resistance. You can expect to feel resistancewithin yourself as well as from those around you. Work throughresistance by acknowledging it and doing what you need to doanyway. I remember feeling excited about facilitating a planningsession, something I had never done before. The night before thesession, the excitement turned to resistance and fear. I felt theresistance, got through it, and have been facilitating planningsessions for three years now.

26. Answer your "what ifs." What if itdoesn't work out? What if I don't make any money? Use yourjournal to write down your what ifs, and answer them. For example,to answer "What if I don't make any money?" you mayrespond, "I can get a part-time job while building mybusiness."

27. Practice patience. Next time you're in a trafficjam or waiting in a line, practice patience. One client discoveredthat by practicing patience, he became more patient with himselfand the process of entrepreneurship.

28. Overcome the "not good enough" syndrome.I've seen clients miss opportunities when they turned down ordid not pursue projects because they thought they didn't havethe right selling skills, the right brochure or the right product.The next time you feel compelled to turn down an opportunity,figure out what would be necessary for you to accept it. Realizethat you know enough to grab that opportunity today.

29. Ask for help. When you're most challenged andleast likely to ask for help, reach out and ask. That's thetime you need it most. My clients and I can attest to the power andclarity that comes from asking for help when we least want to askfor it.

30. Trust your instincts. Others may tell you thatyou're crazy for giving up a good job or for starting abusiness. But no one knows you as well as you. Trust what you know,and take action accordingly. The more you act on your instincts,the more instinctive you will become. Trusting my instincts led meto become the entrepreneur that I am today.

31. Treat yourself with tlc. Seek to meet your mental,physical, spiritual and emotional needs by finding balance in allyou do. My clients have found that they have more creative energyand can accomplish tasks in less time when they take good care ofthemselves.

Enjoy the journey!

Suzanne Mulvehill is the author of Employee to Entrepreneur, available and your local bookstore, and host of TheEntrepreneur Hour Radio Show.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Starting a Business

The Best Strategy to Stand Out in Today's Competitive Market May Not Be What You Think

How do you gain and sustain a competitive advantage in an overcrowded market?


Your Definition of Leadership Is Outdated — Here's How to Be a Better Leader in the Modern Workplace

In my nearly thirty years as a leader, I've focused on setting a clear vision and empowering my team to achieve our goals. We prioritize establishing shared objectives while allowing for flexibility when needed.

Side Hustle

She Had Less Than $800 When She Started a Side Hustle — Then This Personal Advice From Tony Robbins Helped Her Make $45 Million

Cathryn Lavery built planner and conversation card deck company BestSelf Co. without any formal business education.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Jake Paul Has Made Millions Using This Mindset Hack — and It Will Help Him Fight Mike Tyson, Too: 'Let It Fuel You'

The social media star and "W" founder spoke to Entrepreneur about his latest ventures in boxing and business.

Starting a Business

They Showed Up to Apple With a Product They Built in Their Dorm Room. Now These Entrepreneurs Are on the Way to Changing the Way Fans Watch Sports.

How Rahat Kulshreshtha and Gaurav Mehta launched Quidich Innovation Labs, technology that is literally changing the game of sports viewership.