3 startup fears and how to conquer them

October 21, 2014 10:25 am The UK Domain

Finding the confidence to put a plan into action can be difficult, even for the most experienced of entrepreneurs. We spoke to three successful British entrepreneurs about common concerns when launching a business and how you can conquer them.

1. “Where do I even start?”

This is common ground for first-time entrepreneurs. It can be easy to become weighed down with numerous questions like ‘What do I prioritise first?’ ‘What does a business plan look like?’ or ‘How will I get the money to fund it and continue to fund it?’

Tom Weaver is the founder of innovative restaurant app Flypay (an app that allows customers to check, split and pay their restaurant bill from their phone). He believes the best starting point is to get as much advice as possible: “We talked to a lot of other entrepreneurs who all had a great deal of advice, particularly around fundraising.

The difficulty in starting up a new business is you don’t know what you don’t know until you’re in the thick of it. There are a lot of things to learn, even if you’ve run a business before like we had, so it’s always best to get as much advice as you can, whether it’s from friends, family or other entrepreneurs and experts.”

2. “What if I don’t have all the right skills?”

As the founder of a business the pressure to wear many hats, from web designer to accountant, can be daunting especially if you don’t have the experience.

Entrepreneur, Jenny Griffiths, understands this pressure after she went from studying for her Masters in Computer Science to running her own fashion startup SnapFashion (lets you search and shop for an item of clothing or pair of shoes from a photo): “Not having the right skills is a valid fear, especially if you’re an entrepreneur early on in your career. I think that the most important way of getting through this is self-awareness. Really understand what you excel at, what you’re inexperienced at, and what you’re not naturally good at.

You can then surround yourself with mentors to improve your skill-sets in the places where you show potential, you can hire experts where you know your weak points are and of course continue to shine in areas where you know your strengths lie.

For me, self-awareness is the first skill to get right when you start a business. I would never have thought that after a couple of years I would be enjoying business development, but I surrounded myself with the right people to learn from.”

3. “What if it fails?”

Whether it’s worry that others won’t love your idea as much as you do, or anxiety that you won’t be able to compete with those who have more backing, one of the biggest fears an entrepreneur can face is the fear of failure.

Julie Waddell, founder of award winning humous and dip company, LoveMoorish, believes it’s perfectly normal to have this sense of doubt as long as you don’t let it get in the way of opportunity: “I had done my market research and blind tested my product on strangers with positive results, so I knew I had a great product. That wasn’t the problem. The problem I had was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to put the wheels in motion and make it all happen.

We didn’t have any funding when we started out. This meant we had to think laterally and spend wisely. We now have a really successful business, so it is possible to start with nothing. What I realised was that when you have that golden nugget of opportunity, you have to just grab it with both hands. I would advise you not to let fear of the unknown in business hold you back. I could have quite easily let finance worries hold me back, but I just went for it. If your idea is a goer, then there is always a way. People will help you nurture your business along the way.

I would also strongly advise you to look for a business mentor, someone who believes in your ideas and can give you sound advice and guidance along the way. My mentor was crucial, especially in times of doubt and worry. She helped me get my ideas from my head onto paper so that I could think clearly and stay focused on what I needed to do rather than let fear take over.”

The inner journey of starting a business can be just as important as the mechanics involved. Remember that you’re not alone in your journey. Like Tom, Jenny and Julie, other entrepreneurs have been there and gone through similar apprehensions. Startups are scary, but it is possible to conquer your fears and come out on top.

Points to remember

  • Get advice. Whether it’s family, friends or an expert (such as a mentor), always seek advice when you’re uncertain about anything, not just before you get started, but as you continue your startup journey.
  • You can’t do it all. Acknowledge your skills and the areas you need help with. If you’re not a web expert hire someone who can help you register your .uk domain and get you started online.
  • Write it all down. From your business plan and goals to website ideas and the perfect domain name, writing down your thoughts can help clear your head when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and it’s a great way to stay focused and prioritise what needs to be done.

For further tips and advice on how other startups and entrepreneurs have excelled in today’s challenging market, read our blogs here.

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