Every small business owner experiences that fear – it’s part of the entrepreneurial package. It’s not surprising when you think about the risks we take, the burdens we shoulder.
I left behind a good job, a good salary and all kinds of perks and benefits, and what is no less important, the peace of mind of knowing that every month I could pay the bills. But job security was not enough to fulfill my wishes.
I wanted more . He wanted to have a great life doing the work he loved ; work that means something to me; work that did good in the world; a work that was the expression of my authentic self. I love coaching and writing, and I love helping others have a great life doing work they love. That was, and still is, my purpose, the light that guides me – kind of like my North Star.
My Pole Star guides me in every circumstance . It is an unshakable and immovable source of orientation, a reliable point that guides my navigation, no matter what. It’s what drives me and my business and makes it all worthwhile. It gives me courage – something all small business owners need in spades.
My father – who owns his own business, like his father before him – gave me the best advice that day ten years ago when I started.
He told me:
“Once you work for yourself you will never have a dependent job again. When it’s going well, there’s nothing better in the world. But let me warn you – you’ll be up at 4am worrying about where the next customer is coming from. And when it goes wrong, it’s terrible, because no one else can shoulder the burden for you, it’s yours alone. So make sure you know why you’re doing it.”
And how right he was! When everything is going well, when there are clients, when the text flows on the page, it’s wonderful! I feel privileged and honored to do the work that I do. It’s hard work, but not as hard as dragging myself to a job I hated every day (at least that was my feeling).
When work is not going, running the business is the loneliest task in the world. You have no one to share with, no one else understands, and even if they did, they couldn’t help you. They can put an ear and listen to your complaints, but nobody can do the work for you and that’s when Fear appears.
How to overcome the fear of undertaking
When Fear strikes, you need to have passion and purpose.
That’s why it’s so important to know why you got into this.
When there’s no job waiting and you have no idea what to do about it is when you basically need your passion – the core of your brand.
Fear whispers: it’s not worth it; going to fail; everything is useless. You wonder what’s the point? And that is the question at the core of your brand and at the bottom of it all – what is the point?
Fear does not care about KPIs (Key Performance Indicators. In Spanish Key Performance Indicators ) .
I confess that I was scared last weekend: “what the hell am I doing?”. Doubt took over my mind night and day with endless lists of all the things I have to do. I have a great business coach and all kinds of plans and strategies, but all that is nothing when Fear assails you. When it attacks you there is no logic, no list, no KPI in the world that can prevent it. The only thing that can counter fear is love – corny, I know – and in this case it’s your love for what you do that counts.
Your pole star, that’s why you do it.
What you do, what you love, what makes your heart sing, what you do like no other (whatever it is) is what makes it all worthwhile. That is your Polar Star, your guide.
Whether it’s writing, consulting, landscaping, computer engineering, fashion, crafts, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s meaningful to you and makes you feel like you have a purpose in life. That is what gives you the feeling of accomplishment that no job in a dependency relationship can give you, because it comes from the heart. And that’s why it should be at the heart of your brand. It is central, critical, vital that you do.
What to do when fear hits you
When fear takes hold of you, there are two things you must do. The first is to be very, very kind and gentle with yourself; don’t mistreat yourself, that’s counterproductive. Enjoy the trip, think that everything will be fine and that you can do it.
The second is to look to your North Star to guide you – remember why you do what you do, your purpose, passion and mission in the world. Tune in to that part of your soul that remembers why you took this difficult, winding uphill road to success, and listen to yourself.
Because when you come back to that unshakable truth, that point of orientation, suddenly you will know what to do. You may not know everything that needs to be done, but the next step will soon become clear, I promise you.
Small steps in the right direction
Then slowly get up off the floor, take a deep breath, and go back to troubleshooting. No matter what you do, do something that will point you in the right direction. Slowly but surely (although sometimes it happens surprisingly quickly) you’ll be back in the running and the customers will flow again.
You will thrive again, and the fear will subside, until next time.
And the next time it hits, you’ll know how to deal with it and it’s not going to be so scary anymore.
So here is the big question: Do you already know which is your North Star?
Do you know exactly what you are passionate about in your business, what drives you, gives meaning to your work, gives you that magical feeling of satisfaction?