The fear of the unknown

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The premise of this blog is my story of starting my own business by accident, because I became unemployed and couldn’t find another job. I had no choice.

Of course prior to my involuntary arrival in what was a freelance market (my businesses have evolved and diversified since and some is outsourced) I would not have dreamed of going out there on my own from the comfort of an employment with a great monthly “pay check”.

Lack of freedom

In employment we have little freedom, though. We do not make decisions about the business which could affect us or improve our situation. We cannot plan to change things. We can suggest to our bosses how things might be done differently. Our best ideas may be taken up, but we cannot guarantee to get the credit or the benefit.

When we are bosses ourselves, I hope that we do give our employees credit where it’s due, and proper reward, but as an employee we have rights in connection with our employment, but not rights to be appreciated.

Talent

It is understandable when we come across employees who are talented enough to run their own businesses that they are afraid to make that big step. As employees they feel more secure in getting a regular income, but that is month-to-month security. It is not a guarantee that the future will bring the same rewards they are getting right now.

Of course there is no guarantee of success in running one’s own business. There is much more control of our destiny, though. We can make a decision which will have an impact in the future. We can make changes to our lives with more freedom. We can build relationships with other businesses. It’s just simply being much more satisfying.

I would not try to badger a talented employee into making a giant leap into starting a business, but I would give every encouragement if I thought their idea was sound. What would you do?

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Fear of the unknown in business

I wrote a little about being courageous in business a while back and was reminded that FEAR can stand for False Evidence Appearing Real (thank you Martin). Now we may often be worried about doing something that is a complete leap in the dark especially if there is a serious financial risk. We all have to be realistic, which is why I am not starting a bakery. I have no experience of baking bread (well, not much) and would not know anything about making fancy cakes, which I think I would need even if I brought in specialist bakers. The problem is I know nothing about the trade and would have to learn from scratch.

What does surprise me is when there would be no downside in trying something new. I thought of this yesterday as I was out walking and passed the long jump area on a school playing field. In the long jump, even if we think we are not great jumpers, we might as well have a go even if we shut our eyes at the moment of the big leap. After all, we are going to land in a nice soft sandpit, and you never know, we might just have performed a great jump.

As far as I am concerned, anything is worth a go if it might improve my business and it would not even cost me money. If there is a cost, we still should try it if we can weigh up and perceive a good chance of success.

What is the problem for many? Self doubt. People find excuses. “I have never tried it.” “I don’t think I can do it.” I have heard it this week from computer literate business people of my vintage. “I am too old to try Twitter.” Well, try it. Ask someone to point you in the right direction. If you don’t get it after a few weeks then give up, but in the meantime you do know how to have a conversation, don’t you?
Rain forest lizard
It’s the old instinctive reaction, the knee-jerk, the lizard brain which Seth Godin often talks about and which stops people doing what they know intellectually they should. Even very intelligent people may resist an unfamiliar experience.

My father is in his late eighties and manages to order my parents’ supermarket deliveries on-line. If he can do that, why can’t we try all the new opportunities and tools available to improve our businesses? What do you think?

© Jon Stow 2010

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