13 Fears Entrepreneurs Often Face (and How to Overcome Them)

Fear is natural, but it's how you overcome it that defines your business success.

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Fear is a paralyzing emotion and can stop even the most experienced business owners in their tracks. For entrepreneurs — who count on moving forward as a way to keep their businesses thriving — letting fear get out of hand can be debilitating. 

But like any business leader, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council have had their fair share of fears throughout their own entrepreneurial journeys. Below, 13 members shared what they’ve been most afraid of as entrepreneurs and how they’ve changed their mindsets to reduce the impact of those fears on their businesses.

1. Feeling Inadequate

I fear the feeling of inadequacy, the constant stress of doing a lot of things daily, not realizing the next day you still have the same tasks making you feel stagnant. We all have a purpose in life, and whatever it is, we have to be the best at it and keep moving forward. It’s not really about how fast we reach the top, but about how happy we are on our journey. Take it slow and savor the moment.

Daisy Jing, Banish

2. Bad Results

Fearing bad results when you take risks is common. The best way to overcome it is to understand that if you never take risks, your business will likely stagnate or at the very least won’t expand as much as it possibly can. In short, any bad results you see when you take risks and fail will be far outweighed when you do take them and they pay off.

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

3. Getting Complacent

A constant fear I have as an entrepreneur is that I am getting complacent. I overcome this by meeting customers in person and asking them what we can do better. Just asking that question humbles me and makes me realize that there is still a lot of ground to cover.

Saurabh Shah, InstaLend Corporation

4. Letting My Users Down

My major concern as an entrepreneur is letting my audience down, so I always use my users’ feedback to improve my business. My team and I also regularly interact with our audience one-on-one by going live on social media. It’s a great way to know their expectations and work on them for a better user experience.

Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

5. Not Being Able to Keep Up With Change

In the tech business, it’s always a fear that you won’t be able to keep up with change or will become out of touch with the way your customers are using tech. My answer to this is to always be networking, researching and figuring out what’s coming next; expanding our workforce to keep up with the pace; and keeping in touch with our customers so we always know what they want.

Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.

6. Not Knowing Enough

Many business owners have a fear of not knowing enough to successfully run their company, but the truth is that most people learn as they go. Many things you can’t learn from studying alone and need hands-on experience to grasp the lesson at hand. Don’t be afraid of not knowing everything. Learning is a lifelong process, and you’ll continue to learn more the longer you run your business.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

7. A Lack of Stability

Many entrepreneurs fear the lack of stability of running a business because there is no safety net. In fact, this was my biggest fear and struggle. But I learned how important it is to focus energy on planning for the company’s long-term success. Having a Plan B has also been one of the best ways I’ve overcome fear.

Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

8. Not Doing Enough

As an entrepreneur, my constant fear is that I’m not doing enough. “Keeping up with the Joneses” applies in the workplace too. I see other organizations launching new products, winning awards, expanding their reach, and I think, “How come I haven’t done that yet?” It’s important to remember everyone (and every company) is on their own journey. Comparison will only distract you from your own goals.

Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity

9. My Competitors

As an entrepreneur, it’s always important to be mindful of your competition. You hear so many stories of how one product dominated a market only to disappear the next year. What helps me is to focus on my customers’ needs and do my best. Ultimately, I can’t control my competition and can only do my best and trust that I’m giving customers a good reason to stay with us.

Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

10. Bad Press

A major fear is the fear of negative press around my company and products. While I know through rational thinking that I have a good product and great employees, it can be hard to stop overthinking it. It’s helpful to accept that not everyone will love your product and that negative feedback can actually help you grow. Keeping this perspective in mind will help you reframe negative press.

Blair Williams, MemberPress

11. Data Breaches

My biggest fear as an entrepreneur is that we will experience a data breach and lose sensitive data. This has never happened, but there’s a risk that comes with operating online. We have a slew of security features in place to stop any potential cybercriminals from accessing our website. But the worry of website security is something that sticks with you long after you start your business.

John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

12. What Other People Think

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to worry about what the people around you think. You’re going to find a group of people who don’t like your idea or think it will flop. You have to truly believe in your vision and business to overcome these naysayers, but it’s totally possible to work past this mindset and grow your brand.

John Turner, SeedProd LLC

13. Failure

The fear of failure is something all business owners struggle with, but that doesn’t mean it stopped everyone from opening a business. When you’re afraid of failure, remember that there’s nothing wrong with the possibility of failing because you can always start again. Plus, taking the necessary steps can prevent that and put you ahead of the competition.

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

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