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Entrepreneurs can be paralysed by fear and afraid to move forward with their business plans for all sorts of reasons.  What are your fears?  That you can't get funding to launch your product, you're afraid of failing, or even afraid of succeeding? Are you uncertain as to whether you have the right product or are you unsure that you've chosen the right business partner.  Whatever it is, fear can be very disabling and a huge source of stress.  Yet often, entrepreneurial fears are unfounded and are perceived rather than real.

Here are a few common fears that many entrepreneurs experience during their business career:

Fear of uncertainty

Many new entrepreneurs -- and even some old ones -- fear the uncertainty that being your own boss can bring.  Starting a business can mean relinquishing the security and stability of a traditional job, with a regular paycheque.  There is no boss to ask for advice and no colleagues to discuss projects with – the buck now stops with you -- and that can be very scary.  For someone who has been used to traditional employment and answering to a boss, running the show can be quite uncomfortable.  The structure of a job and the daily routine is gone and there is nobody to answer to but yourself.

If you have a job, one way to ease yourself into self-employment is to start off part-time until your business becomes established.  Many new entrepreneurs start a new business this way and although it can be exhausting while you juggle the various elements of your life, it allows you to test the water with self employment.  You also retain a degree of financial security.  Some people never let go of this lifeline and continue to run part-time businesses while they continue to pursue their main career.  Others find success and fulfilment in business and long to be their own boss.  Giving up a secure job to become self-employed is a big step, but most people who choose this route are ultimately glad they took the plunge -- the benefits of being your own boss can far outweigh the fear of uncertainty and the disadvantages of being trapped in a job and a lifestyle you hate.

Fear of failure

Whether you are employed or self-employed, everyone can suffer from the fear of failure.  It invades every part of our lives, not just our careers.  However, if your livelihood, not to mention your self-esteem, depends on the success of your business, the fear of failure can be very real.  New businesses notoriously have a high risk of failure, with 95% of all businesses likely to fail within the first few years.  You have to be very confident to start a new business, especially with the current economic climate.

However, the fear of failure is often rather subjective.  Entrepreneurs worry about an endless number of reasons why they might fail, such as not getting enough sales, becoming ill and unable to work, being sued by customers or employees, not getting paid, and so on.  Entrepreneurs often fear of failure when they are unprepared and lack a solid plan of action.  You can reduce this fear by developing a solid and workable business plan, and by thoroughly researching the market and knowing your customers.  Create a plan and talk it through with a variety of business advisers.

Fear of success

It might seem strange to be afraid of succeeding, but many entrepreneurs fear that their business will consume their whole lives, leaving no time for family and friends or other pursuits.  There is a common misconception that being an entrepreneur involves working night and day on your business with little time for anything else.  People can feel guilty and stressed if they are not continuously putting effort into their business.  And while it's true that running a business will take up a lot of your time and energy, you have to remember that you will be far more effective if you take time out to ‘sharpen your axe’.  Effective planning and delegating can help you achieve some balance in your life -- and by taking time out from your business on a regular basis, you will maintain your enthusiasm and passion for it.

Overcoming the fear

Entrepreneurs can become so consumed with fear that they are afraid to do anything!  Yet, when you think about it, this can be just as scary!  By doing nothing, you will almost guarantee failure as every business requires innovative ideas and effort above everything else in order to succeed.  With some creative thought, you can overcome obstacles such as lack of funding and so on.  In order to succeed, you have to maintain belief in yourself as an entrepreneur as well as a belief in your business and your products as being worthwhile and worthy of success.  Here are some practical suggestions for overcoming entrepreneurial fear:

·         Keep reminding yourself of how much you've already achieved in your life, and in your business.  Give yourself a pat on the back now and again!

·         List the reasons why you want to be self-employed -- this acts as a great inspirational motivator to keep you on track.  Do you really want to go back to that deadly 9 to 5 job?

·         Avoid working in a vacuum and dwelling on your fears.  Talk to business advisers and network with other people in business.  Find people to bounce your ideas off and get some positive input into your business.

·         Develop a detailed business plan with all the goals and aspirations you have for your business.  Create solid and workable action plans and refer to them regularly.

·         As part of your plan, make sure you achieve some balance in your life -- don't let your business consume every waking hour -- take time out to renew your energy and enthusiasm.

·         Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help and advice.  There is plenty of support out there, so don't struggle alone.