Most people would love to start their own business, be their own boss, and call their own shots. But while Gallup polls consistently show high desire for entrepreneurship (over 70%), other studies show that few follow through and take the leap.

Why is that?

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What stops would-be entrepreneurs from digging in and launching something they've dreamed about -- perhaps for years?


In a previous article, I described my experience helping launch a business incubator. One of the primary factors I found for people who decided not to take the risk -- even when help was offered -- revolved around faith.

If you don't believe you can do it, you can't. 

But if you do believe it, nothing or nobody can stop you.

For this post, I interviewed people who've launched a successful business. I asked them one question: "How did you overcome the fear and step out in faith to get started?

Here are some of those responses.

How Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Fear and Launch a Business

Jon McDonald, CEO of The Good, a conversion optimization company

When the company I was working for was getting acquired, and the economy was headed into the 2008 recession, I knew there wouldn't be a better time to take my fate into my own hands. Seems backwards, but as the country and the company I was working for were entering hard financial times, I knew that my odds for personal and career growth were better in my own hands. So, I took the leap. I always knew that if The Good didn't work out (and I wasn't going to let it fail) that at the very least I could take the experiences I've learned and use them to obtain a higher level role in the next career stop. It's been nine years since then, and I continue to be reminded it was the best decision to make.

Brandon Stroud, Owner of Rent-A-Son Tree Service

Honestly, I just was looking at the way I was going in life and thought I could do better so I just did it. I'd been working as a hot-saw specialist for a forestry company (meaning I worked fires and my job was to fell trees while they're on fire!), but they didn't have much work during the winter. I started letting people know what I could help them with, and they started calling. Now I have crews working under me and I get to choose my own jobs. I love it.

Vanessa Riley, Owner of CME Cleaning Company

I'd been working for an elderly care home as a nursing aide. I loved the work, but still felt unfulfilled somehow. One day, the cleaning lady quit, so they asked me to take her spot until they could hire someone else. I discovered cleaning was my thing. I was good at it, and I enjoyed it. Consequently, I got the job. After that, I kept running into people who needed help with housecleaning or vacation property cleaning. I started making extra money doing that, and finally had to quit my regular job so I could keep up with the demand. You don't have to take a big leap. You can do it gradually, that helps get rid of the fear.

Alex Genadinik, Owner of Problemio Business Coaching

In my case, I was always tinkering on my own ideas and pursued my curiosity. I did that ever since college. When I got a professional job as a software engineer, I remember I'd even work on my ideas on the bus to work, from work, through the evenings and on weekends. I had to fail a lot to learn and get experience, but eventually the ideas I had began making money. Once they began making money, I started taking on short-term projects and funding my life with the revenue from my business plus the revenue from the short-term projects. I did that until I was able to take less and less projects and work on my business more and more as my business made more revenue. And then one day, my business made enough money for me to never have to work for someone else again, and I never looked back. As you can see, I didn't take a plunge and risk. If I did, I would have probably failed because I had to go through many growing pains.  

Joshua Parkinson, CEO of Post Planner

I always had more fear of going to job interviews and putting myself in the position of working for someone else than I had of starting a business. So fear wasn't a factor when I started my company in 2011. I was actually starting several businesses (or potential streams of income) at that time. Post Planner was the one that stuck and got the most traction in the least time. So I ran with it!

Rod Collins, Detective Mystery Writer

The old cliche, "You never know until you try," haunted me and goaded me into writing my first novel. I decided I didn't want to go to my grave without giving it a try. And in the back of my mind I kept hearing the other cliche, "Writers are people who write." This morning, as I work on book number seven, I might venture a timid, "Yes I can write a novel." I will also admit the fear of failure is always peeking around the corner at me.

Coach Jimmy Smith, Owner Smith Martial Arts & Fitness

I still face fear daily. I just keep doing my best, no matter what, and trying to help the people who help me. I put good things in my mind: books, videos,  and audios of people who are doing the things I want to accomplish. Being an entrepreneurs has always been in my blood. I enjoy seeing people progress in life, and I like being my own boss. Many people have helped me along the way. Good and bad, I've learned real-life lessons. I am still a student of life and progress. 

Dr. Andy Higgins, Owner of a breast health care practice

Once the pain and anguish of my situation became so intense that the known, comfortable, and understood fear was outweighed by the unknown pleasure and peace that existed out there... my health started to suffer. My internal peace was no longer there. My family relationships started to suffer. That was the catalyst for me to do something. There was a non-compete obstacle that I had to overcome with other financial penalties attached. But the current situation was no longer acceptable. The fear of solo private practice had to be faced. The fear of uncertainty of developing a practice had to be faced. The fear of failing and falling on my face while being responsible for my wife and three children had to be faced. The fear of not knowing how to start a practice and what to do had to be faced. Once I recognized that fear is what had paralyzed me and kept me in a situation that was not good for my mental, emotional, spiritual health and was affecting not just me, but my family, that is when courage outweighed the fear for me to jump of the cliff of the unknown. And much to my surprise, it was a minimal step... not a dramatic fall to something different. 

Wanda Smith, CEO of Symphony Placements

I started my first business as a youngster. I saw that my father's garden was producing more food than we could use, so I convinced him to let me set up a vegetable stand. Later, having worked for some of the largest and most successful staffing companies in the region, I saw that a company based on relationship-building could do very well. That was the seed for Symphony Placements. How to get past the fear? For me, it's been a series of calculated risks. I know there's always the possibility of failure. I make sure I understand my clients' needs, then my team goes to work figuring out how to meet those needs by creating mutually beneficial relationships. Fear comes from the unknown. I try to understand the situation well enough to minimize surprises.

Stuart Draper, CEO of Stukent

I started my first business because I got laid off. While looking for a new job, I found it was just as easy and way more exciting to look for clients rather than to look for a new boss. Although I walked away from a secure job, with a six figure income, when I started Stukent, it was easier to talk myself back into the world of entrepreneurship because of the lessons I had learned with my first business.

Jason Littlewood, Director of The Flagmakers

Standard advice for anyone wanting to start a business is to "Do what you love." That was certainly the case for me. I became fascinated with flags while researching an assignment in school. I loved the stories behind flags, the different colors and shapes... to me, there was nothing more interesting. So I started looking for a way to earn a living with flags, and the natural outcome of that was to design and sell them. I love getting the feedback from families and businesses who use our flag-making tool to create their own flag. It does a lot for bonding and team-building. Flags are my passion! That's why I make them.

Ruth Mattox, Owner of Silver Creek Clogging

I discovered clog dancing when I was fairly young. It worked like nothing else to build my self esteem. It gave me great joy. After college, I went to work in human resources, but I kept clogging. Finally, as I got older, I saw there were many kids who didn't fit into traditional dance classes. They didn't want to be ballerinas or learn jazz dance. I wondered whether they could be inspired by clogging too. So, I started teaching and found clogging is just as powerful now as ever. The benefits are plenty, and the cost is low. Everyone should find a way to express themselves in dance!

Getting Past the Fear of Entrepreneurship - Conclusion

As you can see, I didn't limit the interviews to just one type of business or one type of entrepreneur. I wanted to find out whether there is a thread winding its way across occupations.

Do you see one?

Or is the catalyst for entrepreneurship something too personal to categorize? 

With questions (or answers), contact me. Tell me your own story about entrepreneurship. I'd love to include your perspective in my next blog post, here on the Jerusalem Post.



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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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