5 Phobias that are killing your small business (and how to overcome them)

It’s the most common reason many would-be entrepreneurs never venture outside their comfy cubicles.

It’s what keeps many small businesses from reaching their potential.

And it could be killing your small business.

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5 Phobias that are killing your small business

I’ve seen them time and time again: 5 common fears that many small business owners and entrepreneurs fall prey to–and they can kill your small business if you don’t watch out.

So what are these common phobias?

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1. Failure-phobia

Perhaps the most common phobia of them all (and most wanted for small-business murder) is Failure-phobia.

Entrepreneurs have a natural tendency to want to be successful. But with that blessing, comes the curse of being afraid of failure.

It’s something almost all would-be entrepreneurs (and even some seasoned entrepreneurs) face and have to push through.

So how do you get over the fear of failure? The same way you conquer your fear of heights: jump out of a plane.

Jump right in to freelancing or running a small business. Try it out.

Freelance on the nights and weekends to prove to yourself that you can be a success. Once you’re ready to fly solo, leave your job (if that’s your goal…there’s nothing wrong with working a full-time job and running a small business on the side) and make the jump into entrepreneurship!

You’ll always have little failures along the way, but small failures are a moment to grow and learn–not a moment to give up and count yourself as an all-around failure.

Small failures do not equate to big ones if you simply handle them well, learn from them, and move on.

Conquer your fear of failure today by doing something totally off the wall.

2. Bene-phobia

I know lots of would-be entrepreneurs who are afraid to start out on their own because “their benefits at work are just too good.”

Enter phobia number 2, Benephobia: the fear of losing benefits.

Now remember, you’re talking to a guy here with a wife and toddler who has a full-time job as a marketer/designer and freelances on the nights and weekends (don’t hate me).

So I totally get this fear.

But if the thought of losing benefits is keeping you from reaching your dreams (my full-time job actually helps me reach mine), then it’s time you take the next step and make the move to entrepreneurship.

Take your family to the dentist and doctor one last time and then quit your job (if that’s what you want) and strike out on your own. There are plenty of other ways to get “benefits.”

There is far too much information on small-business benefits for freelancers/entrepreneurs, so we’ll cover that in a detailed post in the near future.

Make sure you don’t miss it by subscribing to the blog for free.

3. Phone-phobia

This one might feel out of place a little bit, but I see it all the time.

The Phone-phobia is one that often hurts entrepreneurs who have decided to take a chance and start their small business.

They start finding clients and building a reputation, but they’re afraid to get on the phone with anyone.

(This phobia is especially common among those of us who are 18-30 right now.)

Let’s face it: emailing, texting, sending a message on facebook are all much less threatening.

But there’s no better way to impress a client; no better way to close a sale; no better way to build a partnership than with a personal phone call.

How do you overcome this common phobia?

Make rules for yourself.

For example, tell yourself that every third encounter you have with any client, will be on the phone instead of via email or text. Or make it a point to call a client or partner if any situation takes more than a few sentences to explain.

You’ll find yourself building networks more quickly, plus you’ll save all sorts of time: writing a long email can take double or triple the time (or more) to write–not to mention all the back-and-forth time you and the recipient must spend after the fact.

Pick up the phone…it’s really not that scary.

4. Time-phobia

If you haven’t heard the truth about running a small business yet, here it is: it’s hard work. It takes a lot of time. You had better be committed, or you’ll never make it.

Another common phobia would-be entrepreneurs have is fear of not having time to do what you need to run your business and not having enough time to spend with family and friends.

How do you overcome this fear?

You have to realize you are the keeper of your time.

You can get a lot more done in a little time than you think.

I learned this lesson when I got my full-time job and had to limit my blogging to only 40 minutes each day (that includes writing, moderating comments, promoting posts, networking, editing guest posts, finding advertisers, working with affiliates and much much more.)

It was then that I realized I needed to work hard on my streams of passive income.

Slowly, but surely, my dollars per hour worked have gone up over the last year and I couldn’t be more pleased.

You are the owner of your time. You decide how you use it and you decide how it benefits or hurts you.

5. Sales-phobia

The last business phobia I’ve seen a lot of new entrepreneurs shy away from is the fear of the hard sell. In fact, many newcomers to business wonder,
“Is it possible to be a great salesman and still be likeable?”

I say “yes, it is.”

Why are so many aspiring entrepreneurs afraid of hard-selling people on their business, company, or services?

There are a few likely reasons:

1. They’ve been sold to way too much themselves and find salespeople annoying.
2. They’ve tried the path of sales (perhaps door-to-door summer sales) and find it tedious and emotionally draining.
3. They think the only way to be an effective salesperson is to lie, bloat the truth, and make impossible claims.

But here’s the deal: it’s your business.

If you don’t want to make people angry by hard-selling in a traditional way, then don’t. If you don’t want to twist the truth and bloat the facts to make the sale, don’t.

It’s that simple.

But you have to sell.

That’s what business is all about. If you don’t make money, you’re not in business. You’ve got a very time-consuming hobby on your hands.

The best part about being an entrepreneur is that you are the master of your destiny.

You decide how you do business.

You decide how you treat customers.

So don’t be afraid of sales–find your preferred way of “selling.”

And then run with it.

What phobias have held you back?

Everyone has some fear(s) that hold them back from reaching their full potential. If you share yours with me by leaving a comment on this post, I will do my best to help you overcome it. Deal? Great! Good luck.

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  1. Great Post Preston! I have been a fan of this site for a little over a year when I was laid off from my 9-5. Luckily I knew it was coming and was able to start a web design certificate program in hopes of starting up my own business. It worked and I have been moderately successful, i.e. I’m still doing it today. But everyday I am brought face to face with at least one of the fears you mention here.

    I’d like to add Faker-phobia to the list and say that this tends to be my nemesis. Having just started out I find I am always trying to convince myself that I am not “faking it”, that I actually have a skill set that is desirable and useful to others and that they should pay for. But when I see others who have been doing this for years and years and the skill they retain, I can’t always strike the feeling that my clients would be better off with some one like that. Maybe you have a tip or a post about this.

    You, your team and blog are beacons of hope in the chaos that sometimes is my work life and I thank you immensely. I will be a reader for as long as you put out this quality blog!

  2. A distant cousin of Phone-phobia, I’ve always had Ask-phobia. Asking anyone for anything any time gives me immediate panic. Asking someone for their business. Asking a client for payment. Asking for a raise/bonus. Perhaps a result of being raised in an “entitled” generation, we’ve never learned to ask for anything and expect to just get it.

  3. Hi Preston, I know this one is a late comment but it’s a phobia I haven’t seen posted yet. My biggest phobia is that I’m either not as good as my equal colleagues or that I should be exactly as active as they are, which is incredibly active when I just also want to have a life as well. Kind of a should-aphobia. So when I get my life where I like it I look at my business and think, ugh, and then want to hide under a pile of pillows.

  4. Phone-phobia, it’s funny how these younger people are so obsessed with their phones but not for calling clients and perspective clients. Slightly older people like me who are use to cold calling are not that afraid, I guess this is one thing I have up on them!

    Pick up the phone, what is the worst that can happen, some one hangs up on you. Great topic and an interesting read!

  5. OMG, I suffer from all of these! It’s a wonder that I’ve been able to keep this business going for over 30 years with all of these phobias! I think the worst is the failure phobia, it can really paralyze you from doing what needs to be done to grow the business… a lot to think about and try to overcome.

    1. 30 years!? Wow, Nina. Great work! It seems like some people (maybe you?) use fear of failure to motivate them toward success. Best of luck in everything!

  6. Yup!! Tax phobia and bookkeeping phobia here. But working on pushing through it. Also researching benefits as well. Oh yeah, and get work done.

    1. Lenny, you can do it! Those are common phobias (as reflected in the comments), but I’m glad you’re able to get work done anyway. That’s what keeps your business afloat after all.

  7. I definitely suffer from the phone-phobia. It’s not always an issue getting on the phone, if I really feel that I have to anyways. But I always get really nervous like I have to man myself up a bit before calling, then I have to practice what I’m going to say in my head. I think the only solution to this is to call, and to call often, it’s like everything else.

    1. John, I’ve found the more I’m on the phone, the more natural it becomes for sure! Best of luck in all your phone adventures. 🙂

  8. Probably depends on the type of person you are. 3 and 5 are my hardest to deal with, the rest are non-issues.

  9. Great post, Preston!

    I’m mostly guilty of phone-phobia, but I’ve made some adjustments to make talking on the phone a more welcome experience. I’ve also set some goals to push me into using the phone more often.

    Thanks again! Super advice!

  10. Very awesome post! I’m beginning the transition to entrepreneur and a some of these phobias have come up for me in some form or another. It’s great to see these addressed and to hear someone say “It’s okay, I’ve been there and it can be overcome!”, it really helps.

    If there’s one phobia that I’m experiencing right now that’s not listed above but one that I feel is weighing a bit of pressure on all the other areas, it would be tax phobia. Since I’ve never struck out on my own before, the thought of taxes, keeping track of them, and reporting them feels like a huge hurdle to overcome for me, and I fear doing something wrong in that the IRS would come out and smack a fine or threaten jail time or anything like that. The thought of that currently freezes me in my tracks, even though I haven’t done anything.

    Any help or advice you have on this would be greatly appreciated. It seems to me like a very important step in regards to running your own design freelance business that I haven’t really seen talked about much at all on the web, at least not that I’m aware of.

    1. Ahh, financephobia. The one area I should have addressed more thoroughly. What questions do you have specifically, Matt? I’d be happy to try to answer them as much as possible.

      1. Thanks for the response, Preston 🙂

        Let’s see, specific questions…

        How do you go about finding out how much to charge tax on jobs? Is there a guide somewhere on how much to add to the price of your service for invoices? I realize this one varies with each project and depends where you’re located. But let’s say for example I’m doing a small, simple logo job for $400, and I’m gonna need to keep some of that (or add to it) for taxes. Is there a way you look it up? (or have what you need onhand)

        Another question: As far as bookkeeping goes, how do you go about keeping track of everything so that you can focus on the best part: the designing? Do you have an accountant that takes care of everything or do you do it yourself?

        Also, when you officially added freelance design as a means of income, did you just get a tax ID and business bank account or are there other steps involved that I’m missing? (specifically dealing with the financial information setup, that is)

        I know that’s a probably a lot to answer, and I appreciate any help. I think my questions mostly have to do with getting started. Getting the momentum going, if you will. I have a feeling that once I’m up and running and I’ve addressed many of these questions, a lot of the fears will dissipate as I approach them.

        By the way, I bought your recently written ebook and it’s really helping me in starting out as I’m following the steps. Excellent stuff!

        1. You know, looking back at some of my finance-phobia, I see a huge outline of “failure-phobia” projected in there 🙂

  11. Excellent advice, and situations I’ve faced during the last 12 years of running my own design practice. As far as “bene-phobia” is concerned, as searched for two years for a decent health insurance program before our local chapter of the Printing Industries of America rolled out a comprehensive benefits plan for members (Printing Industries Benefit Trust). There is a monthly premium cost plus the price of PIAG membership, depending on the type of plan you choose, but it’s well worth the price.We’ve been happy with it for 10 years and it covers all we need for myself and family. Check with your state PIAG for details. And yes, independent graphic designers can enroll as associate members, depending on the rules of the state group.

    1. Gary,
      That’s an amazing and excellent solution. Thank you so much!! Seriously, everyone, look into this. What a great opportunity.

  12. Yeah, great article! I could definitely pick up the phone more and be less scared of getting stuff out there.

  13. Great post, Pres. I have all of these and more. 🙂 I would add that one way to overcome some of these fears is to talk to people who have been through it. Most successful entrepreneurs and freelancers are eager to share their success and happy to talk to newcomers (provided their in a different market). And knowing someone else made it is so comforting!

    1. That’s some great advice, Kylie! I’d even say that people are willing to talk to newcomers in their own industry (uh, I’ve built a blog around it, ha) because there’s always room for more. If the industry grows, hopefully you grow too! Thanks for the comment.

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