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How Entrepreneurs Can Lean Into Fear to Grow Their Business

How Entrepreneurs Can Lean Into Fear to Grow Their Business

As an entrepreneur, what's the most significant hurdle we may encounter when beginning our business? Ironically, that whole "beginning" part!

Most entrepreneurs are held back from the actual anxiety and fear that necessarily comes with the unknown. To excel in any industry, you have to not only face the storm of negative thoughts and worst-case scenarios that will inevitably flood your mind, but push through them to grow your business to its most tremendous potential.

Below, find five lessons from female entrepreneurs who've leveraged and leaned into their fears to access their most immense potential and power.

[Related: How to Pivot and Slay Your Way Into Your Inner CEO Power]

Lean into fear.

The most authentic way to face the fear of starting your business is to lean into the fear itself. First and foremost, identify what it is that is holding you back from getting the ball rolling.

Understanding and accepting fear is the key to moving past it. Starting a new venture and navigating uncertainty is one of the critical aspects of being an entrepreneur. Everyone starting a new business will face feelings of uncertainty, risk, and fear.

Co-founder of legal cannabis brand MatchCanna, Christina Rivera, knows these butterflies of new beginnings intimately, especially in an industry that doesn't necessarily have unanimous societal approval and may come with certain stigmas.

"When we first started MatchCanna, we labored over every decision," she said. "We struggled with all of those What Ifs: What if we fail? What if nobody wants to buy our products?" Eventually, she used the anxiety that comes with fear to fuel their motivation and direct their energy. "When we accepted the risk and made the decision to keep failing forward, we allowed ourselves to own our mistakes and not to let our mistakes own us," she said.

Lean into emotion.

In the most stereotypical sense, women are often regarded as more highly emotional than their male counterparts. Gordana Jakopcevic, Feminine Leadership Mentor and Women's Sexuality Coach for multi-passionate women, is an expert in understanding the client's emotions and leaning into her own.

Before her awakening, she would "sweep emotions under the rug," leading to feelings of being stuck, unworthy, and even that dreaded imposter syndrome. "When we are constantly disconnecting from our emotions, we end up stuffing our feelings inside," she said. "When we feel these emotions, we as humans embrace the uncomfortable that ultimately makes us stronger in life and our careers."

Trust your inner voice.

Ever have that nagging inner voice in your head paralyze you from making decisions? If something doesn't feel right, most likely it's not the thing you should be saying, pursuing, or doing. Of course, the opposite can be true as well — our guts can help make better decisions, especially when it comes to business and making money. There's a difference between fear and bad judgment calls that needs to be recognized for business success.

Heidi Hutchinson, who has disrupted the literary industry by creating romance novels where one can choose the ending, uses the technique of saying her fears aloud. "I give my fears names, and it lessens the power of the fear itself to give me a direction. From there, I can either solve it or disregard it," said Hutchinson. Next time you decide to make it, ask yourself the most straightforward question:

What am I afraid of?

There are times where we ignore our intuition and take others' advice because we assume others have more wisdom. While advice should be welcomed, each circumstance is unique, and there is no universal solution.

Jakopcevic says that as a coach, she may not always know the direction to guide or the perfect questions to ask, but she trusts that when she slows down and listens that she will be "perfectly guided to what unfolds."

"It feels excellent knowing that by embodying my inner wisdom, my truth, means I'm showing up in integrity as best I can," she said.

[Related: More than Medals: What Employers Can Take from the Tokyo Olympics’ Mental Health Milestones]

Focus on your why and take action.

When entrepreneurs home in on what they are doing, it's easy to take the action you need to get where you are going. Writing down your "why" helps you keep it top-of-mind and on-track when you get anxious or overwhelmed. The "why" should push you to continue the steps that will take you towards your goals.

Rivera believes that the "why" should be simple when starting your business. Rivera found a loved one in pain after a back injury and wanted to create something to help deal with the pain. Once she found the perfect formula, she wanted to share it with others who might be dealing with the same issue.

Failure isn't always negative.

Every failure is a lesson. Being able to reevaluate what you did wrong and find a different solution is part of the entrepreneurial journey. Some of the most outstanding entrepreneurs will talk about their failures and what they learn from them. If you don't fail, you might not ever succeed properly.

"Failure is not the opposite of success. It's part of success," said Rivera. "Facing failure head-on can help you develop healthy ways of coping with the fear that often accompanies failure. "You're able to learn from the mistakes you make, and being able to fail shows the cracks and issues that might have appeared down the road that you can successfully change."

Unplug from fear, literally.

Unplug from technology and focus on what makes you happy — picking up books, spending a day without social media, or getting out in nature all help boost oxytocin. These are all scientifically proven to make us happier.

Hutchinson believes we must learn to figure out how to relax and unwind to combat external noise and fears. "Take yourself on a day or have a serious internal conversation about an event or an emotion you are feeling," she said.

Business endeavors suddenly become more feasible once we learn to face the fear and lean into the uncomfortable.

[Related: Our Mismatched World Is Making Us Sadder Than Ever]


Olivia Liveng (nee Balsinger) is an experienced storytelling coach, brand strategist, entertainment producer, and Liveng Public Relations CEO, an agency amplifying hospitality, tourism, and female voices. She's also an award-winning travel journalist, with bylines in Fodors, Forbes, New York Post, and Business Insider, and LA Style. Find her on Instagram at @livliveng.

Carly Orris is a freelance writer and publicist based in New York. Her writing focuses on female empowerment, travel, entertainment, and lifestyle. Find her on Instagram at @carlyorris.

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