Top 10 Fears of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur Magazine has a great article on the top five fears of entrepreneurs. But why stop at five? I'd like to expand the list to 10 common fears I hear about during my work as an executive coach.

First, Entrepreneur's top five fears of entrepreneurs. They are:

1. Fear of Failure:Without a doubt, an entrepreneur’s biggest fear is failing–understandably, because 95 percent of all businesses fail within the first five years. When you’re starting with those kinds of odds, it’s OK to be a little freaked out.

2. Economic Uncertainty:Five years ago, the economy may not have been of forefront concern for a startup entrepreneur. But today, businesses big and small, young and old, are worried about what the declining economy means for them.”

3. Being your own Boss: “As a small business, especially during the startup stages, there’s very little stability and security. Unlike traditional employment, you probably don’t have an office, employees, benefits or a paycheck. And what you definitely don’t have is a boss, someone guiding you along.

4. Consuming Your Life: The idea of not having any time for yourself, neglecting your family and giving up your social life can be terrifying.”

5. Staying Afloat: You need money to start up; you need money to operate; and you need money to grow. Throw the dismal economy into the equation–when people are spending less and it’s taking longer for small businesses to get paid–and money is even harder to come by.

Why stop at five? Here are five more:

6. High-Wire with No Net: When you have been in your own small business and survived the early years that weed out most startups, you have the fear that you can never turn back to “the devil you knew” (i.e. traditional employment). The struggles of entrepreneurship make you forget why you left corporate America in the first place and your memories become revised to dwell on how easy and happy it all was “back then.”

7. Losing Ground to the Jones’s: Even though your business may be getting more profitable every year, you look at your old car in the driveway and the Jones’s new Lexus and feel that if only you’d stuck to being a corporate (fill in the blank) you’d have new toys, too.

8. The Merry-Go-Round Stopping: Your business is cooking, but you worry that somehow, someday, and soon, the phones will go silent and no one will want what you sell anymore.

9. Stuck in Third Gear: You know how to cruise at 40 MPH but you need and want to do 90 (this is metaphorical).  You fear you will never break through the wall of your business being merely “okay”.

10. Emperor Has No Clothes: And the big-daddy of all entrepreneurial nightmares–you dream that you’re walking down the street and suddenly you discover that you forgot to put your shorts on. Perhaps if you act natural no one will notice. Lots of entrepreneurs think everyone else is smarter than they are and live in fear of the world finding out their secret.

I could go on. So could you, so let’s have it: five more entrepreneurial fears from the front lines.

Oh, you were waiting for some advice on how to cure yourself of all these? How’s this: You can’t! Not completely, anyway. And I don’t think you’d want to. Fear is a great motivator. Ask anyone who owns a business if fear helps them get up in the morning and do what has to be done.

Contributing blogger Mitch York coaches executives who are evolving into entrepreneurs. Find York — and his personal blog — at Follow MSPmentor via RSS; Facebook;; and Twitter. And sign up for our Enewsletter; Webcasts and Resource Center.

TAGS: Financing
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