5 Ways to Slay the Enemy of Entrepreneurs: Fear

Decide that you desire to achieve your goals (and build a startup) more than you're afraid of the obstacles.

learn more about Sarah Crossman Sullivan

By Sarah Crossman Sullivan

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Entrepreneurs find themselves pulled in multiple directions to put out fires, raise capital, increase their customer base and build brand awareness. It's easy to get distracted. Fears surrounding success are common.

While entrepreneurs are often leaders who inherently crave change, uncertainty, doubt and low cash reserves can intrude. Fear is a powerful enemy. Your ability to slay this giant begins with deciding to embrace an experience. Decide that you want to achieve the goal more than you're afraid of the obstacles.

Winston Churchill said, "When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened."

Here are five ways to help you face your fears, stay focused and win the weekly battles that nearly every entrepreneur faces:

Related: 11 Lessons I Learned at Startups That Keep Me Up at Night

1. Remember the "why." You started your company with a passion to ignite the market with a needed solution. After the launch parties and early wins, it's easy to lose sight of why you started. You might become engulfed by customer-service issues, productivity problems or exhaustion. Remembering the "why" helps inspire impactful decision-making and motivate those around you.

Instead of focusing on frustration, think of inspiration. If you founded a company to offer something fast, free and fun, keep those adjectives on your daily calendar. Use visual reminders of why you forged the journey to draw strength when you need it most.

2. Embrace the race. Urgency is in the eye of the beholder. While some deadlines are absolute, others are arbitrary or self-imposed. Instead of getting weighed down by demands, focus on what you can do today to move the business forward. Typically there are three choices: move forward, stay still or go back. Filter these options against all things on your to-do list, particularly those causing fear and anxiety.

Related: It Turns Out, Fear is Your Best Friend

3. Build a base of "go to" people. Find a foundation of friends and mentors who make you a better person just by being in their presence. Choose people who share your values. Meet with them one-on-one and arrive ready with a concern, question or idea that you want to discuss. Select people whom you respect who are not afraid to challenge you or hold you accountable. They will help you determine when items are critical versus mere distractions.

Try doing something with your "go to people" outside of work, such as volunteering to help others in your community. While sitting on a board together solving a philanthropic issue, you may find solutions for your company.

Time is a limited, precious commodity. Your time spent at work will become more efficient if you can build a network of people whom you can count on for feedback, insight and encouragement.

Related: Tony Robbins on the Importance of Being Fearless

4. Determine your defining moments. We all have days when things go well, and then one conversation changes the course. Don't let a bad customer-service experience or a frustrating call with a potential investor define you. Instead of lashing back, let such moments remind you of the importance of small wins. Stringing together multiple small victories gives you the confidence to keep fears at bay.

5. Trust yourself, your team and the ability to get help and answers. Your co-founder, spouse, boyfriend (girlfriend) and mom will tell you everything will eventually be O.K. You have to believe it. Fear, uncertainty and doubt can creep up during any conversation. Resilience and hard work are the best ways to minimize stress and keep you focused on driving growth and results. Knowing that things will get better will help slough off some of the distractions pulling you away from success.

It all comes down to choices. You opted to pursue your dream because you believe in your idea. You also can choose to not let the everyday distractions divert you from your goals. By giving yourself reminders of why you are here, surrounding yourself with a great support team and trusting outcomes, you can and will slay those giants.

Related: The Ramen Noodle Startup Menu

Sarah Crossman Sullivan
Sarah Crossman Sullivan is the co-founder and co-CEO of SeeItFit.com. She has worked as a corporate consultant and was an assistant district attorney in Dekalb County, Georgia, prosecuting major felony crimes and leading the district attorney’s white collar crimes division.

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