3 Fears I face every day in my business

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Business, if nothing else, definitely builds character. Every day you face trials, fears, challenges, unexpected twists, and more. It’s easy to buckle under such pressure. I’ve buckled more than once.

But each time it happened, I came back stronger, more sure of myself, and with the ability to face these challenges with more peace – without losing my center.

It’s kind of like boxing. The first few times you take a punch it knocks you off balance. But over time, your ab muscles get stronger and you can hold your center as the punches come flying.

Still, one of the most important exercises I do from time to time is check in with myself, and see what struggles I’m facing today.

Sidenote: When you're done here, learn from 150+ freelancers who've been in your shoes with our all-new 30-day bootcamp: Zero to Freelancing. You'll love it.

I did that recently, and found there are 3 fears in particular that I’m still working on that I’d like to share with you. But first…

The point of this post isn’t to give you a “here’s a simple tip to eliminate your fears!” kind of message. I haven’t eliminated them – so I’m not really qualified to tell you how you can 😉

The point is to just express them and get them out in the open. That’s the most powerful way to deal with them that I’ve found. I don’t know if they’ll ever completely go away – but that’s alright. I can get better at managing them.

I also think reading others sharing their fears so openly and vulnerably is powerful, too. It almost gives you “permission” to face and acknowledge those fears in yourself, and deal with them in a positive way.

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One: “No one wants to pay my prices.”

Every day people agree to our prices. This has gone on for years.

Still, it scares me. Why? Because while about 50% of people we give proposals to work with us – the other 50% typically don’t because of price.

There’s a part of me that completely ignores the 50% that say “yes” and only focuses on the ones who say “no.” 

That part of me is convinced that the “yes”s are a result of sheer luck that could run out at any time.

The “no”s are closing in fast. It’s only a matter of time before they win.

I know this makes no sense. We’ve constructed really elaborate systems to help people come to the decision of saying “yes.” We’ve refined and honed our customer service and sales efforts to encourage it even more.

I know it’s not luck. I know too that no matter how awesome you are, not everyone will “get” it and not everyone will say “yes.” It’s just a numbers game.

Still, as irrational as it is, this fear wears away at me and I face it on a daily basis.

Fear doesn’t care about numbers or statistics. It only cares about the most remote possibility of “what if…” that could take it all away from you. Maybe that’s what it’s there for – to help you prepare for the unlikely? I’m not sure.

Two: “My quality is not as good as I think it is.”

When you price higher than others, it’s for one reason: you think you’re better.

But what if I’m not? What if I’m just as good as the cheap options, I just charge more? Does that make me a fraud then? Am I just a big fraud?

I think making claims about quality, and asking someone to invest more money, comes with a lot of pressure. You have to live up to those claims. You have to defend them through your work.

And while I feel I do that — and the real-world results show it — these thoughts still linger in the back of my mind sometimes.

Maybe they give me an edge though? Maybe they help me stay on my toes? Or maybe they do the opposite – and pick away at my confidence? 

I’m not sure. I think sometimes it’s one, sometimes the other.

Three: “At any moment, it’ll all go away.”

We’ve worked hard and sacrificed a lot and now have a good bit of success under our belts.

Still, every day, a part of me feels at any moment it’ll all just go away. Vanish.

This is probably the biggest fear I face.

The thing is, I didn’t get here by luck or chance. I worked my a** off. I seized every opportunity that came to me. I put my blood into every project I took on.

Like you hear them say on TV… “We built this.”

We built it, with intention and purpose.

Every day of my life proves to me that this fear is just an illusion. Still, it feels so real, and is so convincing. I have to take a deep breath sometimes and remind myself that it’s just a fear, and that my real life tells a very different tale. Things keep getting better the more I work towards them. 

Can you relate to any of the fears above? If so, try this.

Follow in my footsteps. List your fears out and try to understand them, just as I have above.

Ask yourself questions like, “Why do I fear this? Does my life confirm these fears, or tell a different story?”

I think you’ll be amazed at the insights and revelations you have about yourself. And, as I firmly believe, awareness is the most powerful tool you can have in getting stronger.

Questions? Thoughts? Stories?

I’d love to hear them. Leave me a comment below.

See you in the comments,

David

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About David Tendrich

David Tendrich is the co-head of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: the first-ever PSD to HTML & PSD to Wordpress service run by designers, for designers. He co-runs his companies from Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and biz partner, Lou Levit.

 

More about David’s business: David is co-founder of Reliable PSD – what happened when a group of designers got fed up with PSD to Code companies… and created their own. Check them out, and see why freelancers & agencies are head over heels for this amazing new service.

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Comments

  1. David,
    Thanks for a great post. I really resonate with each of these—especially the latter two.

    On fear #3, I have to remember that most things that take years and years to build, don’t crumble in a matter of days. But, I agree, it’s a hard fear to overcome despite how irrational it seems many days.

  2. David – Thanks for this great post. Those thoughts also go through my mind at least a few times a week. Right now, I’m dealing with a vendor that really “dropped the ball” on development. Reliable PSD is my “go-to” development team, but I was somewhat forced into using this vendor. Now I have the unpleasant task of firing the vendor, as well as telling my client that the development is going to be delayed even further. Wish me luck!

    • Oy D-:

      Lou told me about your situation. That really sucks, man. No way around it. Glad we can now help you out though 🙂

      I wish lots and lots of luck your way 🙂 And by the way it’s really cool that you’re just taking this by the horns and calling the shots now.

      Your clients might be frustrated now, but they’ll love you for caring enough to fight with them on what matters and what’s best for them. Way to go.

      Good luck!!
      David

  3. I think alot of people suffer with this over thinking mentally. I actually read a very good article yesterday on 99u.com called ‘Nobody Knows What The Hell They Are Doing’ which goes through the same thought processes.

    • Jamie – I think you’re totally right.

      I love the headline of that article, “No one knows what the hell they are doing”

      And saw this gem too when I opened it up: “If you’re worried you don’t measure up, that could well be a sign that you do.”

      Really great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great Post David,

    I feel Number 3, almost every now and then, I started my freelance career about 6 months ago, and everything is working good, and clients come almost everyday, and as you said, I feel that everything will some day just fade away. But I think it’s just a fear and the proof is that I’m still here, and still progressing.

    • Anas – major props on starting your own gig and rocking it out. That is no small feat.

      Good to know I’m not alone with that one 😉 lol. You’re totally right, all the proof is in the fact that things keep getting better.

      Preston also had great advice too above – it takes years to build things, and more than a single moment to destroy them. So it’s not like it even *could* disappear in an instant, you know?

  5. Very good article, thanks for being so honest! When we’re faced with these fears I think it’s important to stay focused and try seeing the glass as half full. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Yes, totally. I think sometimes to see things that way it takes a bit of venting first though 🙂 At least in my case. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts 🙂

  6. Very good article, thanks for being so honest! When we’re faced with these fears I think it’s important to stay focused and try seeing the glass as half full. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  7. It’s nice that you shared your fears, David.
    It seems to me that most of us have almost the same fears.
    And sometimes these fears come true and not because it’s our fault.

    For instance, #1 and #3 are not just fears for me (and most of the Greeks), it’s our reality for the last 6 years. Greece is facing the worst crisis since 2nd world war!

    In such cases, we have 2 options: either we give up or we try harder.
    For me, this crisis gave me the opportunity to do things that I would never have done if everything was easy-going, like it was earlier, when everybody had money to spend.
    The last 2 years, I’ve done so many things that I think I haven’t done in my whole career. Professionally, I am a new person now!
    I had to find solutions and be more inventive, learn a lot in several aspects, start marketing myself and so many other things, I have to write down to remember. Millo blog was a great help, so many times!
    (One day I may write about it).

    I really believe that every problem, difficulty, mistake can be faced as a challenge and opportunity to learn from it and become better in what we are doing.
    As you say, this is how we built character, in business and in life.

    And, most of the times, when what we most feared happens, we find out that it isn’t as scary as we thought it would be!

    • Wow. Amazingly well said. And serious props for having this perspective. Especially given what your country is going through, I know that’s not easy.

      Thanks for inspiring me with your comment. I’m ready to go crush it now!!! lol.

      Best,
      David

  8. Good article David. Sometimes it can get you, but it’s important to remain calm and strong mindset.

    I always say, don’t look at how far you have to go, look at how far you’ve already come! I’m sure after that, you’ll give yourself even more reasons to push harder and overcome those fears.

    • Hey, Ivan! 😀 Thanks for your comment.

      You are totally right. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of the bad things that “could” happen… instead of just taking a step back and looking at how far you’ve come.

      Great advice.

  9. I can identify with these as well – whenever I know I’m not charging enough and need to raise rates, #1 comes up (and then #2 follows naturally – does the quality of my work justify those rates?). But #3 is the big one for me too, sometimes it all feels very fragile, but Preston’s comment about something taking a long time to build not crumbling in an instant is a great response.

    • Hey, Debbie 🙂 Fear just loves to piggyback on other fears, right? lol

      You are definitely not alone in what you feel.

      Yes, I loved Preston’s advice above too. Great insight.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

  10. Great article David. I can relate to all of these particularly #3— “At any moment, it’ll all go away.” While some days are just too busy to let the negative thoughts creep in, the moment there is even the slightest (inevitable) lull in work “boom’ there it is, irrational fear taking center stage. I’m getting better at taking a deep breath, putting it into perspective and accepting that it’s a common experience that comes with the territory.

  11. It always encourages me to know other people attempting to do what I’m attempting to do deal with the same kind of thinking. Being confident enough to exploit your concerns show just the care you have towards your business and craft. For a long time I thought it was a sign of weakness, but even Super Bowl quarterbacks question their ability, which I think keeps us sharp and always working to be better, and learning more. Thanks for exposing your fears, and encouraging the rest of us to do the same. Great article!

  12. I loved this post David, we hold so many limiting beliefs about what we are capable of doing and make so many assumptions on what other people will think or do.

  13. What an excellent article. It’s nice to know that i’m not the only (irrational) ‘fear’ thinker when it comes to my business. Thanks very much for sharing!

    • Business is freakin’ scary. It’s also so fulfilling. Maybe that’s why it’s so scary.

      I’m glad you don’t feel alone 🙂 You definitely aren’t.

      Thank you too for taking the time to share your thoughts 🙂

  14. Thanks for insight into your fears; I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone! #1 and #2 are constant struggles for me – I cringe when someone asks me what my hourly rate is because I feel like that’s the make-it-or-break-it moment in receiving a new project. But lately I’ve been telling myself that I’m not going to give my services away. There are plenty of designers that charge more than me and plenty that charge less, and you get what you pay for so I don’t want to shortchange myself when I think I’m AT LEAST worth what I’m charging. Glad to hear that I’m not alone in my self-doubt at times!