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Marketing opinion

So you've started your own business... and it's damn scary

Starting any new venture, whether it's personal or business related, is scary.
It's the fear of the unknown, being emotionally vulnerable, exposed and risking failure and embarrassment in the eyes of the people around you.

For many, if not most of us in the working world, we carry an internal dream of branching out on our own and launching a successful business that secures our future happiness and wealth.

Sadly though, most of us don't follow through on this dream because the risk of reward comes along with an even greater risk of failure... and the embarrassment that failure brings just seems too much for us to face or bear.

Taking the first step

Maybe you think that the first step is deciding what business you'll start or gathering the capital to make it for the first few months or even landing that first big client... well it's not.

The first step you're going to have to take as an entrepreneur is facing your vulnerability and fear, because if you don't get a handle on that it can paralyse you and stop your venture in its tracks before you've even begun.

It takes courage to make the decision to start your own business, and from the moment you make that decision, the nagging doubts and fears are going to start creeping in, making you doubt yourself, your decisions, your abilities and worth.

If you don't deal with those emotions upfront, you're going to find yourself selling your services at prices way below what they and you are worth, giving things away for free and basically cutting yourself off from the success and wealth that you deserve.

Failure and courage

When you make the decision to go in a new direction or launch something new, you're risking failure right from the outset - in fact, the risk of failure is equally as great as the opportunity for reward.

While you logically know that the failure won't actually kill you, it doesn't stop you from feeling like it's going to kill you.

The thing about failure is that it brings with it a number of painful emotions that we would all rather not face, emotions like:
  • Fear,
  • Shame,
  • Grief,
  • Sadness,
  • Disappointment, and
  • Rejection
Emotional repercussions

Emotions have a powerful effect on the way we conduct our lives and do business.

When it comes to the horrible negative emotions like fear, failure and vulnerability, the pain of being emotionally exposed and vulnerable leaves us feeling helpless, hopeless and powerless, and in many cases paralyses us into inaction.

So we start with all the great intentions in the world, every positive thought we can muster, talking to people, sharing our vision, selling our services and products... and for the first while nothing, just nothing, seems to happen.

So a month goes by, and then another and then possibly another with nothing happening, no results... and if you're an emotionally oriented or sensitive person, the time until you reach the sense of failure can be reduced to weeks or even days.

Yes, in terms of life, a month goes by really quickly. But when you're the owner of a new business, waiting patiently for the phone to ring or responses to return on that expensive email send you did or for someone to say yes to a cold call you've made, the hours and minutes seem to drag by painfully slowly.

You feel abandoned, alone, scared. You feel personally rejected and that you are a lesser person because nobody seems to want you or what you have to offer.

Mostly though, you feel vulnerable and exposed and like a failure... and most of the time that makes you too scared to reach out even to the people around you who can help you and guide you and support you, because you are afraid of the embarrassment, the shame and what other people are going to think of you.

There's light at the end of the tunnel... and hope

Courage and being brave are very misunderstood emotions, and we tend to think of them as being things within themselves.

What nobody tells you about courage and being brave is that it's not about not having fear, it's about feeling the pain, vulnerability and fear and going for it anyway.

In 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt gave an incredible speech, which sums it up perfectly:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

"Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..."

Dare Greatly

You're out there in the arena, bloodstained, battle-scarred, and covered in mud and tears and you're fighting for your life... you're still standing and you're still fighting.

You deserve all the kudos in the world for that.

So when you're hitting your lows or you're ready to give up, make sure you have a plan of action:
  • Make a list of at least five understanding friends or fellow entrepreneurs who you can call who will give you a pick-me-up or a pep talk and remind you that you are a good person, worthy of success and love.
  • Set your prices realistically and create a maximum discount you will offer to anyone and do not cross that boundary. Do not sell yourself and your services short.
  • If you feel you need to do some free work to get the momentum going, set a limit to how many free projects you'll do and stick to it. Do not sell yourself short here either.
  • Do not dwell on the failures or lack of things coming in... celebrate and give thanks for every little bit of progress, no matter how small or insignificant it seems.
  • Do not feel embarrassed about where you are... if you're working from home, hey at least you're working. At least you have a place to do your work. Give thanks for the progress you've made and keep putting it out there that you're looking forward to moving into your new offices.
  • Send out your invoices regularly and follow up on payments - regardless of how uncomfortable it may feel. Fire clients who refuse to pay you and stick to your guns. If they come back for more work, make them pay the outstanding amounts first as well as the cost of the new work upfront.
You're out there fighting, in the arena, making it happen... and if you stick to your guns you will see the success you deserve.

And for the naysayers who will run you down or try and break your spirit, simply turn around and say to them: Apart from being a jerk, what exactly have you done with your life? That'll shut them up quickly enough.

This article was inspired by the book Daring Greatly, written by author Brené Brown. You can read more about Brené on her website at

About Chemory Gunko

MD & Creative Director of Dsignhaus, Chemory Gunko, is a seasoned Creative Director, a certified NLP Practitioner, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy Practitioner, Energy ReSourcing Practitioner & Life Coach, among others.
Neil van der Walt
Neil van der Walt
Excellent article!

I have been running my own business for the past two years and have dealt with a lot of points mentioned in your article.

I have learned that no one can keep a "good-man" down, therefore always persistently follow your goals, stay positive no matter what thoughts pop up in your head and keep going.

Sometimes it may seem that things are slow, but you don't see the progress you've made within yourself, what changes are made in the minds of people you know and meet and lastly you don't always see the market moving around you. Sooner or later opportunities and successes arise, you just need to keep on pushing and stay open to new challenges.

Kind regards

Neil van der Walt
Posted on 3 Apr 2014 13:48
Chemory Gunko
Chemory Gunko
Thanks Neil for the feedback and vote... let's hope the other entrepreneurs also keep on keeping on, because we need their strength and determination to create the much-needed jobs SAfricans deserve!
Posted on 3 Apr 2014 15:45
Shaun Naidoo
Shaun Naidoo
Surprisingly well timed article as I am literally a few weeks into my independent operation. Very encouraging! Thank you...
Posted on 3 Apr 2014 16:10
Chemory Gunko
Chemory Gunko
Thanks Shaun - you'll find a ton of other resources to help you as an entrepreneur and leader on My Coach, including marketing advice and tips, management, leadership and mentoring stuff :)
Posted on 4 Apr 2014 11:52
Lea Day
Lea Day
Thanks Chemory, a great pick-me-up article.

I had a lot negativity in the beginning with starting my design studio from home. I've had days when I felt like giving up, but working through them has helped me come back stronger each time.

The best thing about moving past failure, it has given me a greater sense of achievement and provided a confidence to build on those experiences. (For a long time my husband didn’t consider my working from home as a job. It’s has taken me a good year to earn his and others respect. Now he is my greatest advocate!)

Never loosing sight of my dream has brought me much fulfillment and a desire to keep going future every day.
Posted on 3 Apr 2014 20:31
Chemory Gunko
Chemory Gunko
Keep going Shaun and keep at it.... you will see results. There are always free articles up on My Coach that you can utilise and draw inspiration from too :)
Posted on 4 Apr 2014 11:54
It is a balanced article about to Payday Loans Online and give Direct Lenders Only.Generally you can have up to $1500 through Payday Loan service. some offers more than this.
Posted on 8 Apr 2014 21:46
Chemory Gunko
Chemory Gunko
It's tough going Lea I know.... glad we could offer inspiration and hope, it's exactly what we're aiming to do with our coaching platforms :)
Posted on 4 Apr 2014 11:57
Thank you...

This article is uncanny as I have just mustered up the courage to it alone after being retrenched for the fourth time.

I even turned down a permanent job...

I couldn't do it anymore...

My personal life has been turned upside down because of my retrenchments...

I need to get my power back...

What struck me about this article is, I'm not the only one feeling these emotions...

I guess I'm on the right track...

Now I need to learn how to street fight...

And my gloves are off...
Posted on 3 Apr 2014 22:46
Chemory Gunko
Chemory Gunko
Spoonfeeder, we've built our platforms exactly for that reason, to give people hope and courage and inspiration and access to the coaching resources they need :) There are always free articles up to look at, so please go take a gander, because there are a lot of valuable business coaching resources, tools, tips and tricks that will help you get and keep going :)
Posted on 4 Apr 2014 11:58
donald kavimba
It,s being encouraging and inspiring to get such info with so much knowledge and experience from other people . The qoutes have actually given me guts in the current situation that i am in . I would like to venture in the courier and logistics business and have spoken to 2 big companies and have even given me the opportunity to have contracts with both of them .My scary part is to get the right vehicles and finance .
Posted on 4 Apr 2014 07:16
Chemory Gunko
Chemory Gunko
Donald, being brave is all about feeling the fear and vulnerability and going for it anyway. Many of the great business leaders have said they were scared with almost every decision they made, but they did it anyway.

We have a comprehensive section on entrepreneurship and fear on My Coach... including exercises that will enable you to release fear and build your self-esteem and courage, as well as practical advice on how to work with your business and staff.

When I work with coaching clients, the last exercise I close off with is a fear release exercise... anyone who has done it will tell you that it is life changing - you wake up the next day feeling like a whole new person.

Deal with your fears and release them and you'll have so much more energy to put into and build your business.

I wish you joy, luck, happiness and success. Get out there, build your success and help us create much needed jobs :)
Posted on 4 Apr 2014 12:02
Such a welcome message at this critical time of my business - now two months old!
Posted on 15 Apr 2014 09:49
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