What fears paralyze small business owners?
I can't help the doubt that overshadows myself and so many other small business owners that I talk to. What fears do other small business owners have and how do you overcome them?
Based on your profile, it sounds as though you're turning your hobby into a business. That's a win-win in my book. No two SMBs will ever have exactly the same fears, but they generally boil down to time, money, and the unease that comes from diverging off the beaten path.
Given that you are doing something that you (presumably) love, let's break down the worst case scenario:
- You spend your time doing something that you love, but don't get paid.
- You are unable to support yourself financially on your hobby alone, and require another source of income to provide for yourself/your family.
That's really it. Sure, you could manufacture a whole list of other potential negatives, but at the end of the day, as long as you're doing something you love and are passionate about, it's pretty hard to go wrong. So what if you don't make good money--unless it is a requirement to turn this into your primary income, then just enjoy the process. Don't let the stress take the fun out of your hobby, because at that point, it's really not worth it anymore.
If it is a *REQUIREMENT* to convert this into your primary income, then you should evaluate your financial situation, make sure that you're not overextending yourself, and make the best decision you can.
Just from a peace of mind standpoint, I think it helps to have a backup plan and a tentative timetable. When I started my own ad agency 30 years ago I had lots of very natural concerns, but I figured that I had enough wherewithal to stay afloat for at least six months even if zero dollars came in. So my plan was to reassess at a 4- or 5-month point and if necessary start looking for a salary-paying job with another agency.
Fortunately, I was profitable from day one and much more successful than I had expected, so I never had to go to Plan B. But I had one.
Another suggestion is, talk to others who have years of experience doing what you want to do, people who are making money at it -- and are willing to advise you (call them long-distance if need be). I did that and received a lot of important pointers -- and some much-needed encouragement. Also connect with a good accountant who can get you grounded on some of the record-keeping and financial basics.
But when you do take the plunge, don't be tentative. Give it 200% and plan to work 24/7 to get things going. And don't forget to MARKET yourself. Just because you make a great product doesn't mean that anyone will see it or want to buy it. Figure out who your market is and how you're going to get your message to them on an ongoing basis. That is absolutely CRITICAL.
Al Shultz alshultz.com
Deana, the fears that YOU experience are the fears that matter. To know that you are alone in those fears (or not) may be soothing but suffice it to say fear is a big part of getting started. The great thing about fear is that it keeps you on guard. As for overcoming the fear? First of all accept it; then embrace your goals. At some point you have to take a leap- the gap you seek to leap is up to you and the things only YOU understand but at some point you will, you must jump. I suggest you acknowledge your fear and temper it with the perspective that only you know.
The two biggest things I have seen are operations and marketing/advertising. It takes knowing your industry more than just a little and knowing your target audience. No small business owners have all the answers, That's why so many fail. But doing your homework and talking with others helps you through the first year. Fear is from the unknown, so know the topics.
What!? I thought small business owners were fearless! ;)
sales and cash flows ...keeping increasing sales but not at the expense of reduce cash flow
Deana, That is a first rate question! It is so apropos! Thank You for it!
At first glance it may seem that small business owners are afraid of failure-i.e- not meeting their financial responsibilities, proving the naysayers right and not living up to their potential.
But, Marianne Williamson said "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us."
Now when I look at this statement objectively, especially in relation to the decisions that I and others have made that were clearly self-sabotage, I have to admit that there is profound truth and depth to it.
The reasons we (both small business and non-small business owners ) self-sabotage
are many. It arises from all the self doubt which we acquire over time- through conventional ways of thinking fed to us by our institutions, family and culture. Through bad relationships with 'significant' others who deride us. And where once we believed we could we now ask, says Williamson questions such as:
"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"
We also 'play small' because we do not want to lose those people around us who deep down we know we would lose, who would fall away like leaves, if we ever did sprout our wings.. and so we self sabotage.
Because getting certain people's approval is better than getting their wrath!
We 'play small' and keep our light beneath a bushel because we do not want to 'offend' others. But the greatest irony is that when we be the best of who we are, we not only draw to us those of similar ilk but we give, says Williamson, the " other people permission to do the same".
So the idea is to dig deep beneath the fear and unearth what's really the seed cause. Then gently deal with it, head-on.
Again, brilliant question,Thank You for asking it
And I Am Wishing You & All others Well,
I think that ultimately all fears branch out of the fear of failure.
In my experience it's the fear of change. When your trying to introduce a small business owner to a new product that is linked to new technology business owners will tend to hit the brakes. Once a business owner has used a source or product for 2-3 years it takes a seasoned marketing & sales professional to make the decision without letting them know your making it for them.
I believe the fear of competition causes major paralysis. Where new/small business should be 'out there' getting the attention from potential customers, are typically cautious of the sharks lurking below the water..
To me, fear is actually a sign that you're moving in the right direction! I see so many people start out with a small business based solely on a dream. As in, they're following their dream or they honestly believe that if they can dream it, they can do it. My caveat to that has always been, if you can dream it AND you put work, strategy, money, and effort into it, you can do it.
As Hugh Myers mentioned, if you're turning a hobby into a business, that is kind of a win-win situation. It's a good strategy when you haven't left your income generating job yet, but are starting to slowly build your business on the side. It give you more time to strategize how to make your business successful than those who take a leap of faith, quit their job, and follow their dream on a whim.
Another fear I see small businesses express a lot is actually paying for professional services that will help their business. For instance, I see so many solo-preneurs and small business people try to take on the role of marketer and designer because, as they say, they "can't afford" to pay for those services. I won't be the first to say that is really shooting yourself in the foot. Unless you have the experience and talent required to do those things, D.I.Y. can have some major pitfalls. Money you put into your business to help it, should be seen as an investment, not just an expense.
The fear of failure is probably most common - especially if you have everything riding on the success of this small business.
In my experience, small business owners typically worry most about cash-flow. In a small business, cash is the absolute king. Nothing can happen without the free flow of cash around a business. I've seen small business owners choose not to chase a large customer for payment because "I might not keep them as a customer" - my advice is great ! I'd hope that you would want to lose customers like that since if they don't pay you are providing your products and services for free. Be confident, ask them to pay and be persistent and if they don't cut off the supply. Of course, you must ensure that everything you do in the supply of goods and services is beyond question to ensure that they have no queries that they can use to delay payment. e.g. invoices must be accurate, goods delivered when promised, quality as described etc.
an interesting question.
the main fear for a business owner is regarding the rate of return for the investment he had already made to the business. this is something that all the small business owners have.
the second problem is they may not expect unexpected problem. i.e. a sudden lag in the payment from the customer. while at this moment they feel like a fish out of water.
the third is how will I generate revenue. paper based calculations may fail to an extend.
the fourth is regarding their employees. are they faithful to the org. or can I trust him...etc.