Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Biggest Killer of a Small Business isn't Lack of Cash, It's Fear.

(elephant image from Daily Mail)

I just read this statement from Itty Business:

If you think you’re afraid your business will fail, you’re not. You might be afraid of poverty, of humiliation, of never finding happiness, but you’re not afraid your business will fail. Figure out what the problem really is and stop pretending the Big White Elephant of Fear hasn't taken up residence in the corner of your home office.

Amen sister!

Running my own small business scares me to death, especially because I publish books, which means my failures are there for everyone to see and those failures impact my authors, those people who are trusting me with their creative offspring. Not only am I trying to support artists and help them create works of art, I am fending off bankruptcy and audits. It is a manic battle of linear thinking and intuition. So far I'm managing well and I'm proud of myself for that. But the fear is always there. What if I make a mistake? What if I fail?

Of course I make mistakes, but so far no one's noticed. I suppose that's part of the battle. It's like flubbing your lines in a play; if the audience doesn't see it, why worry. But I do worry. I can't help it. Eventually I'm sure I'll make a mistake that will impact Medusa's Muse in such a way I won't be able to smile my way out of it.

And that right there is the basis of my fear; I can't stand to make mistakes. I have to be perfect, always, all the time, in everything I do and say. Perfection is exhausting and impossible to achieve, but Lord knows I keep trying for it anyway. Because if I make a mistake someone will notice and start to question my capabilities. Plus, in the words of my thirteen year old daughter, "That would be embarrassing!"

I know my fear, understand its origins, and have learned to deal with it. I have never died of embarrassment nor of the judgment of others. The fear is ungrounded, but it's there. Being afraid isn't a problem. Letting that fear stop me from achieving my dreams is.

In an earlier post I blogged about writing down your own personal definition of success. It is just as important to write down what scares you about your publishing business and writing. Usually the fear isn't really "I'll fail." It is more related to what that failure creates. Will people laugh at you? Will your parents be embarrassed by you? When you locate the root of the fear, you can tame it.

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