Every woman who has started a business has heard the wicked whispers of fear. The successful woman entrepreneur, the one who is unapologetically going for it, is no different. However she recognizes that fearful chatter and wisely chooses to ignore it in exchange for fulfilling her biggest dreams and ambitions.
We all are intimately aware of the typical fears that arise such as the fear of failure or the fear of success. Yes, fear of success is a legitimate fear and can keep some women from pursuing ambitious goals.
There are some fears that are subtle but are no less impactful in holding women back.
No one wants to make a fool of themselves especially when it comes to sharing and realizing their business dreams. It takes a multitude of steps to get to the point when you launch your product or service and you are completely exposed and vulnerable almost daily. Living on the edge of fulfilling your dream can at times have you teetering on the edge of doing something embarrassing.
Everyone has at one point or another embarrassed themselves. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, had a doozy of a gaffe when interviewed by the BBC in the U.K. When asked how her product would help women she said, "Well, it's all about the fanny. It smooths your fanny, it lifts it, and it firms your fanny." Unbeknownst to her, fanny means vagina in England.
One of the reasons women start businesses is to provide financial freedom for themselves and their families. They don't want to end up dependent on their spouse or family. It can particularly hard in the early days when expenses outpace profits and when you're bootstrapping like crazy.
No one wants to be a kept woman, not in this day and age. So what do you do? There may be moments where someone else may be picking up your share of the rent or mortgage or you funded your company with a loan from a family member or friend. Know that these times will be brief and the money is not only an investment in your company but an investment in your future.
As much as you may be ready for a change, most people subconsciously fear change. It isn't just that women are fearful of negative changes to their lifestyle and relationships but they may also fear that success may change their lives. This subtle fear may keep you playing small because you don't want to come off as shining too brightly or moving up from the comforts of your current social or class status. You may also feel like you don't deserve or belong in the next income bracket. With these beliefs bubbling under the surface, you are unlikely to take the steps to achieve your big bold goals.
We are lucky to be living in this day and age with the ability and ease of starting a business. Thanks to the feminist movement we were told that we could be and do anything and everything we wanted. Some women are afraid that they will wake up one day and realize that having it all is in fact a myth and the striving for a domestic utopia is burning them out. It's important to realize that women can "have it all" but, as Anne-Marie Slaughter noted in an article for The Atlantic, you may be able to have it all but not at the same time. And, in trying to have it all at the same time women are increasingly burning out and generally dissatisfied with their lives. Women have more choices than ever before but we need to determine our priorities and seek out ways to do it all in a way that doesn't break us emotionally, physically and mentally.
The fear of missing out can be particularly tough on women. They may fear that by realizing their bigger dreams they may miss out on certain aspects of their current life. They may fear that they won't witness their kids' milestones or activities, those special moments that you cannot get back. They may fear that these dreams might pull them away from their spouse or that they will be unable to make important social events. This is purely speculation however. The savvy woman knows that with great success often comes a different level of freedom and flexibility. There is no doubt that there are sacrifices with every decision but there is also the notion that you are designing the life you desire. By keeping your priorities at the forefront of your mind, you can choose how you want to pursue your big dreams while making sure you don't sacrifice what is really important to you.
Fears don't need to be significant to have a significant impact. Knowing what scares you, shining a light on the fears that scurry into the darkness and then creating a plan to manage them will enable you to pursue every audacious dream, build a sustainable company and live the life you've always imagined.
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