Have you ever taken a child trick-or-treating for the first time? It’s always fun to watch a youngster who’s new to the experience battle the fear of going up to a spooky, dark house to ring the doorbell. Some kids are terrified and hang back, even if the person who opens the door is a friendly grandmother-type. Others, no matter how small, are brave enough to venture past a costumed vampire into a “haunted house” to get to that candy.
There’s a lesson here for small business owners. Just like a child learning how to trick-or-treat, pushing past your fears to do what scares you can lead to huge rewards. So in the Halloween spirit, take some time to think about where you’re hanging back in your business. (Be brutally honest.) To get you started, here are some common fears you might be harboring.
Are you scared of public speaking? It’s commonly cited that people fear speaking in public more than death itself, but for a small business owner, being able to address a group is one of the most valuable skills you can have. (No one believes me, but I’m a shy person who learned long ago I had to “get over it” to get my name out there.) Practice in front of your friends or by videoing yourself and getting an honest critique. Improve by taking a public speaking class or joining Toastmasters—it’s free and it works.
Are you scared of technology? Sorry, Luddites, but it’s time to get with the (cloud-based) program if you expect your business to keep pace with the competition. Consumers are adopting technology avidly, and they'll quickly lose patience if your business doesn’t offer what they need, whether that’s a mobile-friendly website or e-commerce capabilities. Whether you need to take a class, sign up for a webinar or enlist an IT consultant (or a more tech-savvy friend or employee) to tutor you, don’t be shy.
Are you scared of leading? It’s hard to believe, but many entrepreneurs fear conflict so much that they abdicate their management responsibilities, never confronting employees about problem behaviors or poor performances. If you don’t hold employees accountable, it’s not their fault—it’s yours. And the failure to lead will destroy your business.
Are you scared to charge what you’re worth? This is a particular hobgoblin for service businesses. When you’re not selling a “widget,” pricing can be challenging. And if something is easy for us to do, we often devalue what it’s worth to others, without taking into consideration that it’s our hard-won experience and expertise that makes it so easy.
So, what are you scared of—and how would getting over your fears help your business grow?
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