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by Walt Goodridge

If you've ever wanted to start your own business and jump into the stream of but somehow never seemed to get up the courage to take the plunge, you might be suffering from a common malady which affects roughly 70% of the population: Entrepreneurophobia! Quite simply, after growing up believing in the American dream of working all of your life for a large company that will take care of you and provide benefits for you and your family, taking the leap into what most would consider an uncertain future is quite daunting. But take heart, as an entrepreneur myself, I'd like to share with you a new way of looking at what's holding you back so you can break free and achieve your own entrepreneurial dreams!

Naming the fear.
Being an entrepreneur has the glamour of being in charge, calling the shots, setting your own hours, more personal freedom, and just possibly the chance of making it really big with that new idea, service or product. On the down side, there are long hours, uncertainty, and of course, risk. Success is not guaranteed, and the money doesn't always come with the regularity of a day job. As a result, many of us choose to suffer in silent desperation making others into millionaires, while our own dreams of success go unfulfilled. What keeps most of us shackled to the nine-to-five grind is plain, simple FEAR. Fear of the unknown. But, don't worry, even successful entrepreneurs experience fear. It's part of being human. The trick is not to let it scare you into inactivity. The first step in our task of conquering this fear is naming it: Entrepreneurophobia, the fear of being an entrepreneur.

Fear of failure or fear of success?
Most of us have been programmed all our lives to believe that "success" is simply going to school and getting a good job. While these are admirable goals to pursue, they don't encompass the entire realm of ways to live our dreams. Unfortunately, the programming is so powerful, that any endeavor which we consider that's not based on those norms is threatening to us and to others. Starting one's own business is a bold move which little of our life's teaching really prepares us for. As a result, we are likely to suffer discouragement and even ridicule from family and friends who view such plans as silly and destined for failure. In addition, we often have to overcome our own insecurities: What if I can't sell my music or product, what if my business fails, what if I get sued, or end up in more debt? How will I pay my rent? What will my family and friends think of me if I fail? What will I think of myself?

Overcoming these self-doubts and negative influences doesn't mean you'll be successful either. In fact, it may be just the beginning of your troubles. Because, while many of us suffer from a fear of failure, an equal number suffer from what we can only call a fear of success! It's true. There are many individuals who don't know how to handle success and, when things are going well, appear to do everything in their power to destroy everything they've worked hard to achieve. The story of the superstar who "had it all" and then threw it all away on drugs, sex or gambling is the classic example. Even after we have achieved success, our own low self esteem may come back to haunt us. The external image we've created--the one that everyone else has of us--doesn't quite match the one we have of ourselves. So, we subconsciously do what we can to get them to match. So we end up sabotaging our own success. Then down comes the facade of wealth, confidence, and success, to be replaced with the old one of poverty, lack and negativity. That's what fear can do to you. While the bad news is you may never get rid of your fears completely, the good news is that you can learn how to manage them.

Fear Management.
When you're in business for yourself, sales, employees, expenses, taxes, growth and everything related to your business require effective management. Fears, too, are as much a part of being an entrepreneur, and need to be managed. Many potential entrepreneurs fail even before they write their business plan, simply because they don't practice fear management well enough in advance and, just as importantly, during the life of their venture. To help you get a handle on your fears and practice fear management, here are a few basics you should know.

The Facts About Fears
1. Fear is at the basis of most of human activity. It's one of the two reasons why we humans do ANYTHING. (The other reason is love). From working, to war, to religion, to politics, to sex, practically every aspect of what we call civilization is in response to some fear or another. Fear of starvation leads to the development of agriculture; fear of poverty leads to the pursuit of wealth; fear of the elements leads to construction of shelter; fear of death leads to the development of religion. Fear of losing freedom, independence and territory leads to war.

2. All fears are learned. Behaviorial psychologists say that the only fears we are born with are the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All our other fears are learned, and like a bad habits, can be unlearned. So there's hope!

3. Fears are not real. Fears are illusions. Fears do not exist. They are your responses to ideas that you've created from unreal beliefs. They have power only because you give it to them. Remember the first time you spoke or performed in front of an audience? The first time you dove into a pool? The fear at those times was so overwhelming that you thought you wouldn't survive into the next day. Well, you have survived, hopefully with the knowledge that the fears are usually more powerful than the thing we fear. In other words, fears rarely equal consequences. As you face your fears, ask yourself: what's the worst that can happen? If your idea doesn't sell, will the death penalty be imposed? Doubtful. Many of us would probably realize that our deepest fears are actually unfounded if we did a realistic assessment. But many of us never do becasue often it's easier to magnify our fear than to admit that the only thing holding us back ..... is us.

4. Fears signal opportunities. The only way to grow in life is to take yourself out of your "comfort zone". As long as you keep doing only what you're comfortable with, you will never grow. If something you're considering doing causes fear, the fact that you feel the fear is probably an indication that this is something you NEED and MUST do to grow into the next stage of your life. As a child, you couldn't walk until you conquered your fear of standing. You couldn't run until you conquered your fear of walking. Fears are the mind's way of identifying areas in your life that you need to work on. And as you do, you may stumble, or even fall, but you ALWAYS learn and grow.


Copyright © 1994 by Walt Goodridge. (Originally published in The Fever Magazine)

As promised, here's valuable information on managing your fears!

ICE-ing your fears.
Like most entrepreneurs, I struggled to make my business more and more successful. At times, I encountered numerous obstacles which I feared were threatening my dreams. At other times I knew exactly what I had to do, but just couldn't bring myself to do it. For instance, I remember at one point being afraid to send out too many advance copies of my first book, This Game of Exposure for fear that some more established person or company would simply steal my idea and run me out of business. However, once I learned the four truths of fears, I developed my own technique for conquering them: ICE-ing. To ICE your fears, you must first (I)dentify, then (C)onfront, and finally (E)liminate them. Let's take a closer look at each step.

Identifying your fears. The first step in conquering your fears is to be honest with yourself. Once you've admitted to yourself that fear is the reason you are not doing what you should be doing, then ask yourself, what am I afraid of? Try putting into words exactly what the consequences are that you fear. Don't be surprised if at first you can't come up with any real reasons. With practice you'll become more aware of what's really going on in your head, and as you keep questioning each reason, you'll get to the bottom line. Forcing yourself to put your feelings and fears into words helps you to make sense of them, and to understand yourself.

Confronting your fears. Confronting your fear means accepting that you have them, and accepting what they say about you. In other words, you may not like that you are the type of person who is frightened by what others think of you, and so you'd rather remain a definite failure than a possible success. But, unless you accept these truths about yourself, you won't be able to get to the next level.

Eliminating your fears. The basis of fear is uncertainty. You are fearful of what you perceive might happen, but you do not actually know what will happen. Fear is how we react when we "don't know". Your goal then, in conquering your fears, is to find the answer to the "what will happen if..?" question. Once you realize this, you'll realize that only one thing can accomplish this: Action! Action eliminates fear. Remember, we said that your fear is based on the fact that you don't know. So, once you take action, you'll immediately "know" what the consequences are. You may fail, or you may succeed, but at least you'll know the answer to the "what will happen if....?" question. The fear has been eliminated. If you don't take action, you'll live the rest of your life with that single burning question: What if I had? Remember: A fear avoided lingers for eternity. A fear confronted dies in a second.

Now none of this is intended to imply that it's going to be easy. Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks. Risk taking requires courage. Despite what many people believe, however, courage is not the absence of fear, it is action despite the fear! The fears never stop coming. As you conquer one, another appears to take its place. What you can change, however, is how you react to them. Eventually, what others will consider your fearless approach to life, you'll know simply as a commitment to action in the face of fear. You wont be eliminating your fears, you'll be eliminating your fear of your fears! And that, future Hip Hop Entrepreneur, is the key to success!

To help you on the journey of developing the courage you need here are some other tips


Start small:
building up the courage to tackle your fears takes practice. Start with the easier problems and work your way up to the bigger issues.

Make daily affirmations:
An affirmations is a statement of a desired outcome stated in the present tense. "I am a successful entrepreneur". "My company is making enough money to support me." These are examples of effective affirmations that you can write on 3"X5" index cards and read them to yourself in the mornings and in the evenings. What you'll be doing is reprogramming your mind to think in terms of success!

Read motivational books
It's normal that your energy level will fluctuate. Several good books exist which can help you keep the motivation high. They can usually be found in the self-help or psychology sections of your local bookstore. Live Your Dreams, by Les Brown, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie,The Master Key to Riches and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill are some of my favorites. I usually provide a success reading list in all my books!

Hang out with positive people like you
Misery (and failure) loves company! Stay away from negative thinkers and align yourself with people who are going or are already where you want to be!

Hip Hop Culture, from Music to Art to Dance, is filled with opportunity. The only reason more of us aren't taking the plunge is fear of the unknown brought about by years of conditioning. Those of us who sit on the sidelines willl forever wonder what might have been. Those of us who are willing to take a chance will grow and eventually be able to live our dreams of being successful Hip Hop Entrepreneurs!! Success is journey, not a destination! Peace.


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NEXT: The Success Attitude!

(Walt Goodridge is an entrepreneur and author of several books. His company, Niche Market Exclusives, publishes his books and other "success tools", which he creates especially for MLM Entrepreneurs, Hip Hop Entrepreneurs, Internet Entrepreneurs and othersto show how to succeed in business. For a free brochure, call 301-587-9226! or visit the site at

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