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The Fear Factor

You know when the boyfriend you’re about to dump touches you and you feel that cold finger of dread creeping up the back of your neck while the bile sloshes in your stomach?

And your brain’s going like the clappers rehearsing what you’re going to say? (Cause you know it’ll go down like a forklift full of farmyard manure.)

So amplify that feeling by, oh, at least to the power of a hundred.

Then you might have half an idea of the fear many entrepreneurs and small business owners feel when they think of ALL THE THINGS they have to do and be to just keep their business afloat, never mind to actually grow the damn thing.

Fear? A show stopper.

If you’re a one-person service business entrepreneur like most of my clients are (and I am!), here are some of the ways fear might stalk you:

You’re scared you’re not good enough, you’re scared you’re too good but people can’t see it, you’re scared you’re missing opportunities, you’re scared you’re ballsing up opportunities, you’re scared you’re so good at maximising opportunities everybody will hate you, you’re scared you’ll succeed and everybody will hate you, you’re scared you’ll fail and everybody will laugh at you, you’re scared you’ll let people down, you’re scared you’ll let yourself down, you’re scared you’ll run out of money and will lose your business, you’re scared you’ll earn too much money and will lose your friends, you’re scared … You’re scared … You’re scared ...

Fear can be one of the most crippling influences on your business success.

Isn’t it time you stared it in the eye and told it to GTF?

Working two jobs - woman working on laptop in cafe

GTF sounds good - but how?

You need a battle-plan. Because the thing is, if you’re wasting precious mental energy on all that crap, as well as bumbling along in the slow lane, you’re also going to do yourself some nasty damage from constantly being awash with stress hormones.

Here are some things you can - no, SHOULD - try:

The Fear Factor

You know when the boyfriend you’re about to dump touches you and you feel that cold finger of dread creeping up the back of your neck while the bile sloshes in your stomach?

And your brain’s going like the clappers rehearsing what you’re going to say? (Cause you know it’ll go down like a forklift full of farmyard manure.)

So amplify that feeling by, oh, at least to the power of a hundred.

Then you might have half an idea of the fear many entrepreneurs and small business owners feel when they think of ALL THE THINGS they have to do and be to just keep their business afloat, never mind to actually grow the damn thing.


Tell fear to GTF ...

1) Know your own value

Imagine you’re your best friend. Or your mam. And make a list of all the great things they’d say about you. 

Guaranteed, you will be horrified. You’ll want to counter each one with proof of why you’re NOT like that. 

Imagine yourself clearly hearing these good things about you and visualise yourself looking the person in the eye and saying “oh how lovely, I’m so glad you think that!”, instead of “WTF, are you stupid? Here’s exactly why that’s a load of rubbish”. 

Let’s get some evidence here. After all, we waste no time in coming up with plenty of examples why we’re crap, don’t we? So turn that on its head and come up with a whole load of examples which support each positive point. And don’t argue with your mam. 

2) Stand out in a sea of sameness

Chances are, lots of other people do what you do, or offer what you offer. But those people are not you, they don’t do it the way you do it, and your clients will not have nearly the same experience when dealing with them compared to when they deal with you. 

Everything from the way you write to them, the way you talk to them on the phone, the myriad small details of the service you give them, makes you stand out in the sea of sameness. 

Giving your customers or clients yourself is what will make them keep coming back for more. 

So focus on all these tiny things which make your service unique. This thing about having to know your Unique Selling Point? All too often that USP is just YOU. And that’s perfectly fine. Nobody can copy that. 

3) Improve what you’re good at

I’m good at helping people with digital marketing. I’m good at photography. I am shit, however, at numbers. Words are my thing, numbers are my nemesis. 

So over the years I’ve deliberately spent a lot of time and energy on improving my marketing skills and my photography. I enjoy those things, and I’m good at them. (My mam told me!) 

I like learning more about that stuff, then I get even better at them. 

Numbers on the other hand … 

4) Outsource what you’re not good at 

Look, I’m horrible with numbers. I have an upper second Masters of Arts Honours degree in languages from Edinburgh University but I got 6% for my Maths O Grade prelim in 4th year in high school. 

I wasn’t allowed to sit the actual O Grade exam. Obviously.

I count on my fingers and I can’t do mental arithmetic. (That’s why phones have calculators, yes?) I don’t think I’m quite dyscalculic, but ...

My husband takes care of all the finance in our house and even does my tax return. The accountant does … stuff.

I’m shit with numbers, so I don’t do numbers. I’m good with words and pictures, so I do words and pictures. It couldn’t be simpler. If I invested my energy in trying to up my numbers game, I’d have put less into improving my words and pictures. I’d have ended up nicely rounded and nicely average at everything.

Isn’t it better to be really good at one or two things and stand out for them, and let the things you’re bad at be dealt with by someone else? 

Outsource, my friend. Whether that’s to a husband, an accountant, a copywriter, a photographer, a graphic designer, a cleaner, what the hell ever. Get that shit off your plate so you can concentrate on making your zone of genius even more fabulous. 

5) Invest in yourself

Go out and GET that accountant, copywriter, photographer, graphic designer, cleaner, what the hell ever. Make that investment.

I recently started to outsource photograph editing to a brilliant company in Canada, so now all I do is add the final wee sparkles and polish to my clients’ images. Oh. My. Giddy aunt. The time I have back … And I know I’m worth having all the extra time this affords me. 

Then invest in developing the things you’re already shit-hot at even further. Learn. Take classes, read books, enrol in programmes. Do the work. Grow your skill set even more.

Expand your mind and mend your mindset in the areas you feel blocked or know you’re deficient. Get out of your own way. Do the work. You’re worth it. (Your mam told me so!)

6) Have a word with yourself

Is your inner bitch giving you a hard time? Is she constantly whispering all this guff into your ear about how you’re a fake, a phony, nobody will ever book you, your competitor down the road is a million times better than you could ever be, and it’s only a matter of time till you’re Found Out? 

But … On the other hand … What if the things you have to say, to do, to offer people can change their lives for the better? What if YOUR service gives them a leg up and is the key to THEIR life and business growing bigger and better? Your inner bitch is the mean girl trying to withhold all your skills, knowledge, and help from them by trying to convince YOU that you can’t possibly make that difference to someone else. 

As well as telling fear to GTF, you really need to tell Mean Girl to GTF too. That list your best friend and your mam gave you of all the fabulous things about yourself? Write that shit out and read it over Every. Single. Day. 

Personal Branding Photographer Edinburgh - headshot of red haired woman against trees

Recite them in the shower, when out with the dog, when trying not to explode when your kids are bickering. 

Mute the voices inside your head that feed your doubts and fears. If you can’t turn them off, drown them out with positive affirmations, building yourself up, and reminding yourself of all you’ve accomplished to date – and that you’re not finished yet!

7) Give yourself a break

Running your own business IS scary.  On the one hand you have the freedom of being able to chase your dreams such as building empires and making your mark on the world in a big way, but the dark side is that at times it’s also grueling, exhausting, and down right spirit breaking. 

When you’re building your business, it can sometimes feel like seeking work-life balance is futile. Work BECOMES your life, and if you’re not doing it, you’re thinking about it. 

You’ll wake up in a cold sweat at 4.00 am worrying about that email you sent, or whether you should have jumped on that opportunity more quickly. On holidays and at weekends, there you are, thinking about your business. Switching off often doesn’t feel like an option.

The tenacity and resilience you need is like nothing you’d ever have imagined, so be kind to yourself when you can.  

Try and take decent downtime, forgive yourself for “the research phases” of success (aka, your screw-ups), remember it’s a long game, and remind yourself you’re worth being kind to.

Personal Branding Photographer Edinburgh - Headshot Rebecca Taylor

What would you advise your best friend, or your mum if you thought THEY were overdoing it? 


Conquer fear by changing the narrative in your mind.


Spread the word!