Fear is a major factor when starting a business. No successful entrepreneur would raise their hand and say they started their business with 0% fear and 100% confidence!
Yet, as the saying goes - you don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great!
So how do you face your fears and start a business anyway?
Recently on my blog, I've been looking at some of the biggest fears new entrepreneurs have about starting a new business, and I've set about providing helpful tips on how to overcome each of these.
But today I'm excited to share something really powerful with you. Real life examples from six successful businesswomen based here in Switzerland.
You're about to:
- learn what it takes to overcome your fears and succeed in business,
- gain insights into what it's really like to run your own business,
- get fresh inspiration, and
- be encouraged by the tips and experiences of women who have been where you are, taken the leap into entrepreneurship and never looked back.
Go grab your coffee, notebook and pen, and settle in for an inspiring read!
Successful women share how they overcame their fears to start their own business. Get ready to be inspired!
How 6 Female Entrepreneurs Overcame their Fears to Achieve Success
Europe's Leading Communication, Public Speaking & Leadership
Expert for Women Who Want to Stand Out, Speak Up & Lead
"Before I started my business, my biggest fear was that of 'not making it'. I believe the 'fear of failure' is present in most people, not just entrepreneurs.
"However, I had a good virtue on my side, I'm quite resilient and determined (you could also see it as stubbornness :-o) so while I was afraid, I knew I was not going to give up that easily.
"I've learned that running a business is not a 'bed of roses'; more like a rollercoaster! The tangible rewards usually take much longer to manifest than we expect.
"It can also be a lonely journey if you don't surround yourself with people who are on the same entrepreneurial quest as you are. Also, you have to learn to juggle many balls at the same time, to manage personal and business life at several different levels and, very importantly, be prepared to continuous learning and investment on your own self by honing your skills further.
"But overall, it's worth it!"
I've learned that running a #business is not a 'bed of roses' but more like a rollercoaster! - Tulia Lopes. Read Tulia's top tips for new #entrepreneurs...
Tulia's Top Tips for New Entrepreneurs
To have a successful business, you need to start by developing Clarity. You need to know where you want to go, what you want to achieve and how you plan to do it. A business needs to be profitable, however, if you are only driven by money you won't get too far.
At the start of your journey, I'd recommend asking yourself:
Clarity: What do I want to provide to the world? What is the impact I want to create? Is my business idea aligned with my inner talents and true values?
Assessment: Where do I want to be with this business in the near future? Where am I standing right now? What are the resources I already have? What are the resources I need? Where will I find them? Who can help me with that? Who are my clients? Where do I find them?
Strategy (Business Plan): Where am I going? And how do I plan to get there?
Once you have clarity and have assessed the type of business you want to develop, it is time to craft an action plan on how to get started and set clear goals and deadlines.
It is said that 'we overestimate what we can do in one year, and underestimate what we can do in three years...' Since I heard that, I make my own business plans aiming for a three-year goal. And I suggest you do the same. Quoting Stephen R. Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People), "Start with the end in mind".
Once you have defined where you want to be in three years, work backward to identify the steps you need to take to get there. The more specific and precise you are, the better. Aim to get to the point where you know that each little task that you are doing today is part of the big whole that will lead you to achieve your goal in three years. THAT is an amazing motivator!
Tulia believes communication and collaboration are the keys to developing and expanding any kind of business and excelling in all areas of life.
She is an award-winning speaker who is passionate about inspiring and empowering women and bringing greater diversity to stages worldwide. Her yearly event - AWE Summit - gives a Voice to Women, and promotes collaborations and partnerships.
Tulia is also the founder of the Speak Up Lead Academy, a system focused on honing women’s confidence through the development of their communication and leadership skills. She is also the author of Leading in High Heels, a step-by-step guidebook to help women to assess their leadership skills and find the techniques to improve further.
Learn more about Tulia and her programs at: www.tulialopes.com
Founder and CEO of WIN & WINConference
"Perhaps the hardest thing for me when I started out was deciding which of my many ideas to choose! I was talking about so many projects, but I was conscious I needed to pick just one or I would end up doing nothing!
"I also wondered about financing my project, losing the security and status that my job offered, and managing my workload – I am a hard worker, but I was aware that as an entrepreneur I'd need to work on a lot of things. I was prepared with a business education, skills and so on but still, when I made the jump - like I felt I did – it was a bit step into an unknown future and I had no idea how things would develop.
"However, I felt a deep commitment to helping create a more feminine world by empowering women and connecting leaders, so I chose to start the Women's International Networking (WIN), a social enterprise and a global conference to help women prepare for the future. My passion for this vision and my compassion for humanity has enabled me to dedicate myself to this cause for more than 20 years.
"What I found interesting, was that as I began my outer journey to create something new in the world, it sparked a more conscious inner journey. I began yoga, meditation, writing and a lot of creative work through the theatre. My conscious journey – which remains an ongoing process – was initiated by me taking the risk to start something new, to share my story and promote positive and sustainable change in the world and doing so by looking inside.
"This inner strength has helped me rise to the challenges related to being a passionate pioneer and manage times of stress; through WIN I'm leading a movement to promote feminine qualities in the workplace…this wasn't always welcomed and I have been criticized, even by women. Knowing how much this internal work has helped me, I begin each WINConference with a mindfulness exercise – this is so normal now, but it was groundbreaking at the beginning.
"With the growth of WINConference, I am managing a global team which requires an extraordinary amount of hard and detailed work, my biggest challenge today is to maintain my personal energy and balance. I'm aware that this is something I need to consciously create, though my family and friends are a big help; they give the opportunity to relax and enjoy a good laugh.
"Looking back, I think my biggest challenge has been the anxiety of not always knowing when the money will come in, will participants join etc. I just have to guestimate and follow my deep intuition. As an entrepreneur, it is so important to be in touch with and trust all your senses and intuition – we cannot know everything by traditional planning alone."
As an entrepreneur, it is so important to be in touch with, and trust, all your senses and intuition – we cannot know everything by traditional planning alone. - Kristin Engvig, WIN.
Kristin's Top Tips for New Entrepreneurs
Commit, then go for it. Understand you have to be very devoted to your cause otherwise it is easy to give up when things get hard. Having said that, be sure to do your homework before you start, so you are fully prepared and set up to succeed.
Roll up your sleeves! Be prepared for a lot of hard work, which grows along with your business. If you have chosen the right business and approach, this hard work won't feel like a chore, more like a passion.
If you are committed to being in business for the long-term, you also need to continually find ways to learn, grow and be creative. This will help you to innovate, be inspired and feel 'alive', even many years into your business.
If you are committed to being in business for the long-term, you need to continually find ways to learn, grow and be creative. This will help you to innovate, be inspired and feel 'alive'. - Kristin Engvig, #WINConference
Kristin has dedicated the past 20 years to women’s leadership and organizational change, inspiring others to create a world where business and society flourish, so all people thrive.
She is an expert on creativity, feminine and authentic leadership and creating amazing group learning experiences. She uses this expertise to curate innovative conferences that offer deep learning experiences to promote lasting positive change.
Kristin takes responsibility for the design and coordination of the entire annual WIN Conference, as well as attracting the right participants. She also takes an active role on stage, sharing her own story and expertise and interviewing global leaders from multinational companies, NGOs and the UN.
WIN's most important offering is the Global WIN Conference, which has been helping create authentic and feminine leaders since 1998. To date, more than 1000 scholarships to the event have been offered to women from developing countries.
The next WIN Conference takes place in Rome on the 26, 27, 28 September.
Learn more about Kristen and WIN - and get your WIN Conference tickets - at: www.winconference.net
High Performance and Mindset Coach
and Founder of A Kaizen Mind
"My biggest fear when starting up my business was that I didn't have the multiple skill-sets required.
"My key skills are in the person-centred aspect of coaching and the design and delivery of coaching programmes. Though, I was very aware that other facets of business such as finance and marketing were imperative.
"However, I was determined to start and believed I had something unique to offer that would benefit a lot of people. As my business developed and my budget increased I was then able to outsource these areas to professionals.
"As a solo Mum, I have had to learn to counterbalance my professional ambition with the demands of my first priority as a parent, caring for my family and looking after my health. I have some excellent coaches who have helped me develop the right processes at different stages to support this."My days can be very different one to the next. But if you can embody the business, it moves with you. I believe having a growth mindset is also essential for success."
New entrepreneurs, when starting out make sure you know what you want, know what that would do for you, then ask what's stopping you?! - Lynda Heffernan
Lynda's Top Tips for New Entrepreneurs
Keep your thinking simple and grow your plans from a few simple questions:
What do I want?
What will that do for me?
What’s stopping me from achieving my goals? and...
...if you do ever find yourself in a boardroom still wearing your fluffy pink Hello Kitty slippers….roll with it! (...and yes, that really happened to me!)
Lynda is an experienced International NLP and psychodynamic coach. A trained psychotherapist and behaviorist, Lynda mainly works with executives, companies and individuals in Switzerland and the UK. She has designed two particular approaches: Mindful NLP and Cognitive Kaizen.
She always works with one goal in mind: to empower each client to reach their full, unique potential. She does this by exploring two key questions: What do you want? And what’s stopping you from getting it?
Lynda has a unique ability to spot where and how a person is limiting themselves as she listens deeply to their beliefs. Her clients identify their goals, create a structure to achieve them, leaving with tools they can use for life.
Lynda is based on the Swiss Riviera and has a passion for chocolate, apéro and chickens.
To learn more about Lynda, visit: www.akaizenmind.com
Expat Career Specialist
"My biggest fears before launching my business were around lack of income and paying clients. Also had a fear of failing and having to return to the corporate world. Failure in Europe is not easy to deal with culturally.
"Despite my fears, I was highly motivated by the idea of not having a boss and being able to become my own project manager. Making my own decisions brought me a lot of satisfaction.
"I had made my business plan during my master's degree, though it took me a long time to launch as I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing.
"There is no right and wrong approach to starting out on your own. Some people may be a bit more spontaneous when starting a business but I am a very analytical person. I like to weigh out options, compare and think through.
"As I said before failure was a fear for me so I wanted to be well prepared so I could have a successful launch. My planning and preparation also meant that I did not experience any bad surprises and was able to ride with the waves of unstable beginnings."
There's no right or wrong approach to starting your own business. You have to follow your heart and do what feels right for you. - Isabelle Litzler
Isabelle's Top Tips for New Entrepreneurs
Prepare yourself: study your market and test your ideas. Start your business while still working if you are unsure.
Surround yourself with like-minded spirits, this support system is important and will help you in a great many ways.
Keep your expenses as low as possible.
Isabelle is an Expats Careers Specialist based in Geneva, Switzerland. She has a passion for growing skills and developing the potential within her clients.
If you are looking for information on the Swiss market, job opportunities or changing careers, visit her company's website (Pleiades HC) for helpful resources: www.pleiadeshc.com
For more personalized services, contact Isabelle at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Switzerland's Most Positive Strength Coach
"I've always dreamt of running my own business, but I was concerned that I wouldn't cope with the complexity of it.
"The list of things to do was daunting; marketing, sales, bookkeeping...I had no idea what it would be like to manage these important tasks.
"It felt a bit like wondering what it's like to be married. The truth is, you will never know until you take the first step.
"What gave me the push to get started, was my work situation. I was fortunate to have my dream corporate job as a trainer, but when the company I worked for was sold, it was the trainers who were made redundant first. I was offered an alternative position, but it wasn't a post I was passionate about, so I decided to take a few months off and start my business journey.
"At that point, I just got started taking each step as it came. One thing that really helped me was getting a business mentor early on; she has guided me along the way and always helps me conquer any fears that arise. With her help, I've managed to stay on track, keep moving forward and enjoy the journey.
"I had no idea what life as an entrepreneur was going to be like, and I still regularly find myself in new situations - it's a fascinating journey!
"Every day there is something new to discover or a new challenge to work through. Knowing Why I am in business and the difference I want to make has made it much easier for me to overcome the hurdles, enjoy each new challenge and keep learning!
"I work a little more than I had expected to, but otherwise I love the reality of being an entrepreneur. I get to meet inspirational people, choose the times that I work and get involved in interesting and meaningful activities. I'm glad I made the leap!
Knowing Why I am in business and the difference I want to make has made it much easier for me to overcome hurdles, enjoy new challenges and keep learning! - Bianca Kux
Bianca's Top Tips for New Entrepreneurs
Know yourself, your talents and your passions - if you don’t already know these, take some time to explore them deeply.
Get a clear idea of your financial situation and how you are going to survive the first 2 years - don't skip this stage.
Have a coach or mentor to help you on your journey. It will save you a lot of mistakes and frustration!
An inspirational coach and trainer, Bianca mentors women as individuals or team managers, to help them unfold their true potential while growing their performance and decreasing their disengagement rates.
Bianca works closely with her clients to help them understand the power within their talents, knowledge and resources before showing them how to build lasting success that is built around their own superpowers.
Through her group training programs, she helps companies, universities and other institutions develop the talent and strength within their teams to increase employee engagement and build performance and resilience.
Danna Levy Hoffmann
Health Coach and
Founder of Organilicious
"My biggest fear when starting my business was financial. I had two young (and very hungry) boys, and losing money wasn’t an option. We were already struggling financially. I wasn’t too worried about failing - it wasn’t even something I had considered at the time.
"That fear always lingers around to be honest, but I simply knew that if I wanted to reach a better place, I'd have to jump over that fear and dive right in.
"It’s in my nature to simply do things and not linger too much on thoughts. It was much harder to convince my husband though…
"The reality of being an entrepreneur is quite different to what I expected. I was convinced it would be MUCH easier - it’s not even close to being easy! That said, it gives you so much more than you'd imagine, I wouldn’t change it for the world - not even in the tough times.
"There are a lot of things you tend to not think about when you decide to become an entrepreneur; things that in our mind seem easy-peasy, but that in reality are not so simple at all. The negativity you can receive from others, for example, can be hard to deal with, I even had one particular hater who tried to sabotage my business. But you always somehow manage to get over that hurdle and learn and grow in the process."
Being an #Entrepreneur is not even close to being easy! That said, it gives you so much more than you'd imagine, I wouldn’t change it for the world - not even in the tough times! - Danna Levy Hoffmann
Danna's Top Tips for New Entrepreneurs
Follow your gut and your passion. Make sure you don’t let anyone bring that down. People around you will think you’re crazy at first, and that’s ok :)
Surround yourself with positivity. Positive people, positive businesses, positive thoughts. It sounds trivial but it makes a huge difference.
Don't give up! Some things will end up taking different routes. The business you start off with might not be what you end up doing after a few years. The business will go up, it will go down, you’ll feel like you want to quit one day, and another day you’ll feel on top of the world. Always remember, if you give up when you’re at a low, you’ll never get to see that high that’s just around the corner.
Danna Levy Hoffmann is a leading health and lifestyle coach and founder of Miso Cute Cooking and Organilicious.
Passionate about helping her clients create sustainable changes in their diets and daily lifestyles, her program Nutrifix is providing women with reinvigorated vitality, smarter eating habits and sustainable nutrition solutions.
More importantly, she’s helping people reduce the stress and exhaustion that comes with body health and weight issues, thanks to her soon decade of study and leadership in personal nutrition.
When not using a personal, tailored approach to help clients reach their goals through Nutrifix, she can be found leading events and workshops for companies such as Google, UBS, IKEA and Siemens, on the topics of proper nutrition, vitality, healthy eating and living a renewed lifestyle.
Discover more about Danna and her healthy living programmes at: Organilicious
Wow! What did you take away?
I was so inspired speaking with these amazing women about their business journeys. What did you take away from their stories?
One thing that really stood out for me was that each of the women I spoke to were determined to start their business, despite their fears. They felt the fear and did it anyway - and encouragingly, despite the challenges, none of them have looked back since!
I also loved the different ways they overcame their fears:
- Tulia and Danna both got stuck in, but surrounded themselves with like-minded and inspirational people;
- Kristin followed her heart;
- Lynda worked to her strengths and got help with the other areas of her business;
- Isabelle took the time she needed to plan her business carefully and feel as prepared as possible before she started; and
- Bianca got a business coach to help speed her progress; limiting her mistakes and maximising her fun.
As Isabelle points out, there is no right or wrong approach to starting your business, you have to explore your options and go with the approach that feels right for you and your vision.
How are you planning to start your business?
Share your ideas, stories and experiences in the comments section below.