Since I’m lucky enough to run my business from home, each day around lunch time I take a break and take my faithful assistant (my dog, Finley) for a walk. I live just two blocks from my 8-year-old son’s elementary school. On occasion, I’ve timed it just right to catch a glimpse of my boy on the playground during recess. He’s usually doing something I’d cringe or warn against if I had taken him to the park: leaning precariously over the edge of some structure or running dangerously close to the swings as they cut across his path like wrecking balls adorned with pig tails and super hero t-shirts. Biting my tongue to prevent against being that embarrassing mom, I keep walking, looking the other way and shaking my head as I think to myself, ‘that kid has no fear.’
But let’s be honest. Wouldn’t it be great to have a little less fear? To live our lives and run our businesses with confidence that it’ll all be just fine? To enjoy what we’re doing, feel the rush of adrenaline from taking a risk like an 8-year-old rather than seeing opportunity through the lens of a hesitant adult?
Like so many other women, before I started my business, I was working a big job- managing the marketing strategies and departments for two companies and four brands, running my kids all over the place, trying to keep up with housework, groceries, etc. I found myself out of gas and frustrated that I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job of ‘doing it all’. I was stretched to the limit. Tired, irritated, and feeling like nothing got my 100%. I needed a change, a boost of confidence and a moment of fearlessness. I’d thought about taking the leap, doing my own thing, but it seemed like something ‘someone else’ does… a risk taker-type… someone without people that depended on her. But in reality, it was my own fear veiled under the mask of responsibility.
Since founding my business, I’ve found ways to harness fear into a motivating force. I’ve embraced it and found methods of quieting its sometimes-overwhelming voice. I’m not going to tell you fear and I have made friends, but we can play at the same park these days. A few things have helped me get here.
Like the old adage goes, knowledge is power. And nothing quite mitigates fear like power.
I’ve taken online courses to learn things I didn’t know how to do yet. I listen to podcasts like Marketing Over Coffee and Ted Radio Hour. I read constantly to keep in touch with industry movements and advancements. And the beauty of being an entrepreneur is you can build time into your schedule to do these things. Play a podcast while you do the dishes, take an online course early in the morning. Read an industry blog while you’re on the treadmill… at noon! Make it as important a task as your client work. It will pay off.
I said before I listen to podcasts… I’ll be honest; I’m a podcast junkie. I look forward to the 12-hour drive to our vacation spot in the mountains so I can binge listen. I listen in the car on the way to see clients or drop kids off at practice. I always listen when I go for walks. More often than not, they’re related to business, marketing or design. This has proven to be an awesome way to relieve stress and recharge, and remind me that I’m just one small part of a much bigger whole. Creating a tribe, or a group of people who share a common culture, in this case entrepreneurs, can sometimes be difficult. By looking to curated stories of success, failure, grit, perseverance… you can create a feeling of kinship and perspective, and find the reassurance to tackle whatever fears or self-doubt that may be creeping in.
I’ve become mindful of the fact that all of what I produce now is authentically mine. I’m learning to fully embrace that people hire me for me. That I’m my brand. That my work is something people value. Every time I’m hired for a new project, and every time I hear praise and gratitude for the work I’ve done, I let it sink in. I accept it graciously and allow myself to feel like I’ve earned it. Allowing confidence to build is not contributing to a big ego, like many women mistakenly tell themselves; it’s fuel for overcoming fear.
I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur. It always seemed a terrifyingly unsafe choice. But as I continue to build this business that I love, I’ve learned that I’m also learning to value myself more. To take chances. And to face fear… for the fun of it.