Overcoming Fear to Grow Your Business

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Lately, I’ve noticed that the small business owners I coach are facing the same stumbling block: they’re afraid to try new tactics or approaches for their businesses.  They don’t want to do anything that would damage their prospects, like posting something on social media that gets no engagement, or driving away customers because they’re being too “salesy”.

This experience of fear makes sense to me, especially right now, in 2021. So many small businesses have been upended during the pandemic. It probably feels like now is not the time to take risks – that there just isn’t any room to try something new. Maybe you feel like these business owners: what if I fall flat on my face? Or waste time? Or lose money?

Your worries about approaching a new marketing/sales project or tactic- it’s completely normal. However, the reality is that you can’t entirely eliminate the experience of fear around your business. It’s a feeling to manage, and not let control you or dictate your decisions.

Let’s consider what happens if you push through your discomfort and try something new.

The power of moving through fear

I want to share a story about Monique, a client of mine. She’s the owner of a French bistro, and her and I have been working on how she can drive more business to her restaurant. One of the methods we discussed was sending out a direct mail postcard to locals in the area. 

A few weeks later I checked in with Monique to see how things were going. She was wracked with guilt because she hadn’t done a thing since we talked last. I reassured her that it was going to be okay: it’s common for small business owners to remain in paralysis before getting started.

Processing next steps

As we got to talking, I learned about Monique’s reason for not doing anything: she didn’t know what to write or how to design a direct mail postcard. So, we sat down and listed out some steps she could take and places to get help.

For example, we identified a great website for email marketing services. We looked at  different design options and the post office direct mail service. Monique has a local printer, so we identified that she really just needed someone to design the postcard.

Next, we talked about the look and words of the postcard. I told Monique to do two things: 

  1. Hang on to direct mail postcards that she had received in the mail that caught her attention. What was it about them that she noticed?
  2. Look at signs when she was out and about, and observe what she liked about them- whether it was grocery stores, dentist offices or other restaurants.

Then, we dove into what should go onto the postcard. For example, she needed to include a call to action. Also, having a QR code on the postcard is much easier than a person manually typing in her website listed on the card. 

After we’d gone through this process together, Monique felt a lot better about her project. She was able to move forward and get working on the postcard, getting her that much closer to bringing more customers to her door.

Let’s break it down

Below are some simple action steps to help you overcome the fear or hesitation that’s preventing you from getting started on a new tactic to grow your business.

Identify the fear

Half the battle is just acknowledging what is. Yes, you have fear. But what is it exactly about? Do you feel like you don’t have what it takes? That you’ll bother your customers?

Connect with your goal

What are you hoping to accomplish with this new tactic? Why does it matter to your overall business?

Create a plan

SMART goals are your friend. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This planning framework is a great tool to get organized and accomplish a goal within a specific timeframe.

Get the help you need

Look for resources that can help you out, whether it’s a consultant, design software programs, or mentors that can point you in the right direction. There are many workshops, classes and training programs that cater to small businesses.

(Here’s a list for Californians)

Lean on a friend for support and accountability

You don’t have to do this alone. Clue in a close friend or community to check in on you. Receiving encouragement, accountability or even having someone’s shoulder to cry on is invaluable to your wellbeing and success.

The cost of doing nothing

Here’s the thing: there is a cost to doing nothing. We know about the failure of trying and not reaching an outcome. Sure there’s rejection, embarrassment, or general discomfort,  but there’s still some reward because it’s a learning experience and it strengthens us.

Then there’s the failure of doing nothing: “ Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Sound familiar?

Not only are you not taking on the possibility of success, but you’re missing out on the other essential benefits: learning from mistakes, growing a thicker skin or higher risk tolerance. Or the simple experience of realizing that you can get back up, dust yourself off and try again. Experiencing and practicing resilience is extremely uncomfortable and yet essential to  sustaining a business.

Final thoughts from a marketing coach

It’s okay to make mistakes. Writing a lame social media post or sending off an email with typos isn’t the end of the world. They don’t say anything about you as a person. It’s more important to stay open to the learning process and grow from your mistakes, versus beating yourself up about them.

Maybe you’ll take a social media workshop and learn why that post didn’t perform well. Or you’ll find a killer copyeditor to review your work before you send emails off.

Approaching new projects with grace and a growth mindset will help you achieve your goals without losing your sanity or steam. Remember, we’re all lifelong learners.

“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” – Brene Brown

Ready for a deeper dive into the action steps that will help you overcome your fear? Sign up for our 5-part “Get Started” email series here. 

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