Tag Archive for 'fear'

Making fear a motivator, not an immobilizer

Anyone who has contemplated forsaking the perceived, if not real, security of employment to start a small business has come face-to-face with the fear of failure.

Indeed, countless would-be entrepreneurs have discontinued their self-employment pursuits for fear of losing too much—the risk being just too great.

But if you pushed through these concerns and actually became a business owner, you know that this isn’t the last time you’ll experience fear. And time will teach you that fear can actually be a good thing.

Not paralyzing fear — like when you’re ignorant of how to prevent or recover from danger. But rather the kind of fear that motivates you to take the steps to be aware, knowledgeable, capable, prepared, decisive and effective. You know – so you can seek excellence.

Remember these two things about fear: It’s a shape-shifter capable of appearing in many forms. And successful entrepreneurs learn how to recognize and deal with fear it in all of its shapes. Let’s take a look at some of the manifestations of fear, followed by what each one might sound like.

First on the list is the mother of all fear — unremitting, cold sweat, cotton mouth fear in its default entrepreneurial shape: “What if I can’t cut it as an owner?” Meet the others:

Terror: “What if I’m buying the wrong business?”

Fright: “What if I order all of this stuff and no one buys it?”

Panic: “What if my pricing for this bid is too high—or worse—too low?”

Dread: “I hate it when I have to fire an employee.”

Trepidation:  “I need a business loan; what if the bank turns me down?”

Anxiety: “How will I ever be able to compete with the Big Box competitors?”

Shock: “What do you mean our best customer signed a contract with a competitor?”

The best way to minimize—if not eliminate—these fears is through performance. But performance only happens when you use the fear-fighting tools: awareness, knowledge, experience, training, planning, preparedness, decisiveness and execution.

Armed with the fear-fighting tools, fear can become manageable and a productive stimulus that can actually create opportunity. But if you don’t use these tools, the fear you feel is probably well founded and giving you good advice.

The only way to make sure your fear is a motivator and not an immobilizer is through performance. And small business performance only happens when you’re armed with the fear-fighting tools.

Write this on a rock —

Fear-fighting tools help you replace fear with its archenemies: confidence and excellence.

Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

Replace worry & fear with business performance

In his book, Blue Highways, William “Least Heat Moon” Trogdon said his Osage Indian grandfather, William “Heat” Moon, taught him this about worry: “Some things don’t have to be remembered; they remember themselves.”

Owners are justified in worrying about their small businesses, but sometimes they waste emotional energy worrying about things over which they have little or no control, or aren’t likely to happen.

In the movie, Bowfinger, Eddie Murphy played Kit Ramsey, an action movie star also famous for being a pathological worrier. He leads a frightened and miserable life because he worries about strange things that would never happen.

Ramsey’s greatest worry was being captured, killed and eaten by space aliens. He also worried about being crushed by a gigantic foot, or that his body might burst into flames. Pretty silly, huh?!

Watching Murphy play this unstable character is hilarious. But it’s not funny or silly when you and I worry about things that, like Ramsey’s obsessions, probably will never happen.

·  Instead of aliens, how much do you stress out about your business being killed and eaten by the dreaded Internet competition?

Stop obsessing about online competitors. First, you should be an online competitor yourself. Second, without a fixed base, online-only competitors may have what customers need, but you have something more powerful: You know what customers want.

·  Instead of being stepped on by a giant foot, do you obsess about being squashed by one of the Big Boxes?

In The Age of the Customer, prospects often rule you in or out before they know how much you charge. You can establish a level of relevance with prospects and customers that no Big Box can, as they continue to focus first on being competitive.

·  Instead of bursting into flames, do you wake up in the night obsessing that your business might go up in smoke if customers abandon you?

In The Age of the Customer, you actually should obsess about customer expectations, otherwise they won’t really leave, you’ll just become irrelevant.

Instead of living a frightened and miserable life like Kit Ramsey, put that energy into performing so well that any competitor would be hard-pressed to take customers away. Build relationships with customers to the degree that when something they want pops into their heads, as Trogdon’s grandfather would say, your company remembers itself.

Write this on a rock -

Don’t live a frightened and miserable life. Replace worry with action and performance.

Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

The Many Faces of Fear

Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.

As a pilot, this anonymous quote became more than just familiar words - it is a fact that I took to heart. But I suspect that reading these foreboding words created a level of fear that caused many prospective pilots to discontinue their pursuit of a license - the risk being just too great.

With a slight variation, this admonishment has also served me well as a small business owner. Ownership in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than employment, it, too, is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.

The Benefits Of Fear

Everyone who has contemplated forsaking the perceived, if not real, security of employment to start a business has recognized the possibility and dangers of “crashing.” Indeed, countless prospective owners discontinue their pursuit of ownership for fear of losing too much - the risk being just too great.

As a prospective or real business owner, have those words of warning ever created a level of fear for you? I hope so, because in aviation and in business, fear can be a good thing.

Not paralyzing fear - the kind that comes when a person is ignorant of how to prevent or recover from a potentially dangerous situation. But rather the kind of fear that motivates you to be aware, knowledgeable, capable, prepared, decisive, and effective. Once you are armed with fear-fighting tools, fear becomes not only manageable, but actually can be a productive stimulus.

The Many Faces Of Fear

There is one thing about fear that is insidious: It is a shape-shifter - capable of appearing in many different forms. The challenge for us is to recognize fear in all of its shapes so we can employ our fear-fighting tools whenever it morphs.

Here are some of the faces of fear, followed by how it might sound, and then a fear-fighting tool. First on the list is the big daddy: unremitting, cold sweat, cottonmouth fear, in its default shape.

Fear - “What if I can’t cut it as an owner?” Before you became a successful employee you had to get an education and some training. It’s the same for ownership. If you can demonstrate the background for ownership, exercise it. Performance is the best tonic for fear. If you can’t perform because you don’t have the capability, background and/or strength-of-will, your fear is well founded and trying to give you good advice.

Fright - “What if I order all of this stuff and no one buys it?” It could happen, but it’s not likely if you did the proper research before you ordered. Remind yourself of the steps you took to determine what your customers want. If you didn’t take those steps, your fright is justified.

Terror - “What if I’m buying the wrong business?” This thought won’t occur if you are buying a business that sells something you know about AND on which you have conducted the proper due diligence, including the market and its industry. That means before you sign on the dotted line you know as much about the business’ past and present as the seller does, and more than the seller about the future of the business. If you don’t, you will become well acquainted with real terror.

Panic - “What if my pricing for this bid isn’t competitive? I need this business!” You should know almost as much about your competition as you do about your company, and more than they do about what the customer needs. Even if you think your price isn’t going to be low, don’t submit a bid for less than you can live with. The only thing that causes more panic than missing a sale you badly need is not being able to deliver the business you fought to get.

Dread - “I hate having to fire an employee.” No one likes terminating an employee. But too often small business owners get themselves into this problem by not doing a professional job of hiring in the first place. The only thing more time and resource consuming than an effective hiring protocol is an ineffective hiring protocol. Hiring willy-nilly is a season pass to the game of dread.

Trepidation - “I don’t think I can get a bank loan.” A self-fulfilling prophecy if you don’t understand that banks are businesses and, just like yours, have procedures for doing business. Knowledge is power, and knowledge of how banks make loans is a powerful lever in getting a loan. Oh, one more thing: A banker won’t eat you or have you arrested just for asking for a loan. They will only say yes or no. Better odds than you’ll get in many of your other small business activities. Besides, your banker might be feeling trepidation that you won’t come by. And we can’t have that, can we?

Anxiety - “How will I ever be able to compete with the Big Box competitors?” Your life will be miserable if you wring your hands about losing business you never had a chance of getting in the first place. Here’s a market truism: You never had a chance of getting everybody’s business! That’s also the good news for small business because it’s true for ALL businesses, large and small. David defeated Goliath by using the tools he had to the maximum advantage. You can avoid a lot of anxiety by using your strengths to deliver products and services in ways that the Big Boxes can’t. And that makes customers happy because they really would rather do business with a David than a Goliath.

Shock - “What do you mean our best customer has signed a contract with the competitor?” The only thing shocking about this scenario is that you had “A” best customer. You shouldn’t let yourself get into a position where the loss of any one customer is devastating. If more than 80% of your business is coming from less than 20% of your customers, you are in danger of getting an ugly shock.

In any of its many forms, fear can be either an immobilizer or a motivator. The only way to make sure it’s the latter is by being armed with the fear-fighting tools: awareness, knowledge, capability, preparedness, decisiveness, and effectiveness.

Fight small business fear with performance

Anyone who has contemplated forsaking the perceived, if not real, security of employment to start a business has come face-to-face with the real possibility, as well as the dangers, of failure. Indeed, countless prospective owners discontinue their entrepreneurial pursuits for fear of losing too much –- the risk being just too great.

But fear can be an immobilizer — holding you back; or a motivator — giving you critical information. The only way to make sure it’s the latter is through performance, which includes being nimble and flexible, all of which require you to be armed with what I call, “the fear-fighting tools.” Here’s my short list of fear-fighting tools: awareness, knowledge, experience, training, planning, preparedness, decisiveness and execution.

In an interview today with Peter Meyer, author of “Warp-Speed Growth,” on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, we talked about overcoming fear and being an effective manager even in a difficult economic environment. Peter is a world-class management expert. Click on the listening option below and take a few minutes to listen to our discussion on this very timely topic. And if you have something to contribute to this discussion, please post those comments here so that others can learn from you.

Finally, remember that once you have full command of the fear-fighting tools you can replace fear with its archenemy, total confidence. Good luck.




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