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Having your own business means being scared…every single day

Categories: Entrepreneurship


woman-with-arms-up-in-the-air.jpgSince we just moved I’ve been meeting new people all the time. Inevitably the “What do you do?” question comes up to which I answer that I started my own company recently. The responses usually take the form of “Wow, that’s exciting!” and I nod and smile politely in agreement.

But let me be honest here. What I’ve learned from my six-month stint as a full-time, no security blanket entrepreneur is that mostly, it’s freakin’ scary. Yes, I said scary. It IS exciting, and wonderful, and amazing, and gutsy, and interesting, and fulfilling, and many other adjectives, but every single day, it’s scary. And it’s the kind of scary that I’ve not experienced before–a deeply ingrained, constant state of scary vs. something that just comes and goes. To be perfectly clear–or too honest, as a friend who has been reading this blog recently said to me–here are some things I am scared of:

  • I am scared of failure. I am really really scared of failure. Work It, Mom! is something I’ve created and I’ve gone out into the world saying “Hey, world! We need a community for working moms called Work It, Mom! and I am going to create it and make it into a real business.” The odds of success are tiny, the fear of failure is huge.
  • I am scared of what my friends, family, and professional colleagues/contacts will think of me if I can’t pull this off. I wish more people talked about this openly. No, I am not doing this for anyone else, but to say that I don’t care what anyone else thinks is dishonest. We all care, opinions matter. I don’t want to let anyone down.
  • I am scared of how working 15 hours a day will affect my family, my relationship with my husband, my daughter’s view of her mom. I’ve tried my best to make sure that I make time for them, but it’s a constant challenge.
  • I am scared of the financial impact that potential failure can have on my family. I am the main breadwinner (currently on sabbatical in that capacity:), and it’s my responsibility.

And here’s one more, which you are hearing here first:

  • I am scared of finding out that I’m not cut out for this. During the past 10 years of my professional life I always thought that what I really wanted to do was start my own company. I did things on the side–like this one–but Work It, Mom! is my first full-time entrepreneurial venture. It’s been tougher and crazier and riskier and more challenging than I imagined or ever experienced before. And I am scared of ever finding out that maybe running my own company isn’t something I can do. This one is the scariest of all.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because every day I get emails asking me about how I got started with Work It, Mom!, how the site came together, how we’re building the business. I try to reply with helpful and specific points. But I want to make sure that I am perfectly clear with every single entrepreneur, freelancer, small business owner or potential small business owner out there:

CAUTION: This is scary stuff.

My to-do list is always a mile long, but I realized recently that what I do every single day, without fail, is fight my fears. It’s the toughest thing I do as an entrepreneur. And there are days when I feel like I am not sure I can keep doing it and days when I know with 100% certainty that I can. The emotional roller-coaster analogy we often hear about running your own business is extremely accurate–I am living it.

I love doing this. If something happened and Work It, Mom! never went further than it has to this point, I’d be tremendously proud of it, of our community, of everything we’ve achieved, of what I have been able to do. I have BIG plans for where this goes and some great people working with me to help make it happen. The moments when I feel like we CAN do this are amazing–I feel like a superhero! They are as amazing as getting an email from a member saying thanks for creating this community or reading a post where community members are being incredibly honest or helpful with a fellow member who needs it. That stuff is magical (so please keep it coming!)

But it’s still scary.

Do you have your own business? How do you face your fears? How do you work and push through them? I hope many of you will share your experiences and reactions in the comments. (I know I can’t wait to read them!)

**Tomorrow I’ll be featuring a guest post from a fellow entrepreneur about her fears and ways she fights through them. She is a really special woman, mom, person–don’t miss it!**

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16 comments so far...

  • After reading this I get the impression that you are afraid that you are taking risks you feel you cannot (personally, professionally, financially) afford to take. If that is the case, I guess I would ask you what are you doing to mitigate those risks.

    For example, you are fearful of how the time commitment to Work It, Mom will impact your marriage. Are you making sure you spend time with your husband? Is there a date night? If not, you should be fearful.

    You cannot get over being afraid of risk if you don’t do something to mitigate the risk.

    KathyHowe  |  November 27th, 2007 at 11:12 am

  • Kathy - interesting point, but not the case. Risk taking is something I’ve done for years - in different ways - and I try to practice what I preach - don’t take a risk without it being a calculated one. But what I’ve found - as I have with this venture - is that however hard you work to mitigate the risks, it can never be a 100% solution. I can try my hardest to focus on spending time with my husband, but it can’t work all the time because of the demands that running a business puts on me. It’s a juggle - as with anything, including a regular job - but there are more limitations on choices I can make and still get this growing. Or, at least, that’s my understanding so far:)

    Nataly  |  November 27th, 2007 at 11:50 am

  • Thank You!! I’m also a first time entrepreneur and feeling all the same things! It’s nice to know I’m not alone — I just wish there was a support group where we coud get together over a glass of wine and vent. Working solo has it’s advantages and disadvantages…the key is loving and believing in what you do :) I push through my fears several ways…by hanging pictures and quotes of/by people that inspire me on walls where I can refer to them during my low moments…I listen to motivational books (I’ve found the audio versions fit better into my life)…and I remind myself to never, never, never give up…I am 100% accountable for my own success…if I believe it, it will happen :)

    You are doing a great job ….and Work It, Mom! is a FANTASTIC site….hats off to you and all the sweat and tears you’ve put into it :)

    Shannon  |  November 27th, 2007 at 12:00 pm

  • So I am a third-time entrepreneur and I STILL experience bouts of fear and anxiety. The business I am doing now is COMPLETELY different than the ones I had before. Yes, I was successful in those (according to MY definition of success) but this one is SO different!

    I liken it to the fear I first felt when I brought my baby home from the hospital. Holy cow - I am supposed to know how to care for another life? I hadn’t changed a diaper in probably 15 years. The books only helped a little but most of it was on the job training. Just like my business was 13 years ago and is again today. We push through the fear because we love it. If we didn’t love it, it wouldn’t be bearable (both business AND baby!)

    Julie Lenzer Kirk  |  November 27th, 2007 at 3:45 pm

  • “I just wish there was a support group where we coud get together over a glass of wine and vent. ”

    Hmmm - “The International Order of Business Moms.”

    You get the idea, there are groups for businesswomen, there are mothers’ groups, but not that much for both - perhaps because we haven’t the time.

    This site is certainly a start.

    Lisse  |  November 27th, 2007 at 4:54 pm

  • It’s wonderful to read such honesty, Nataly! Maybe this is one thing we could turn on it’s head and think, hey, it’s a good thing to be a woman entrepreneur. I can’t imagine any male entrepreneur would ever be in a work or social environment where he’d feel confident expressing his fears. I guess we’re a bit freer to get it off our chests.

    Diane  |  November 27th, 2007 at 5:48 pm

  • And isn’t that one big difference between the zillion business that fail and those that succeed (and even uplevel to the million dollar plus level) — that we push through being crazy scared and do it anyway?!

    I have another new book & business venture launching early next year and I wake up in the middle of the night thinking — what if I am wasting thousands of dollars on this? What will I say to my husband? What if someone comes on the news and says I am horribly wrong and a terrible person? What if …

    The difference is that I do it anyway. ;)

    Elizabeth Potts Weinstein  |  November 27th, 2007 at 7:07 pm

  • Reading this, I’m reminded of why I believe entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone - I can imagine all those fears, I’ve had some of them even as a “regular” working mom, and I don’t think I have the basic level of risk tolerance necessary. You know how much I appreciate what you’re doing here, Nataly, and now I really need to commend you on your honesty with us about how challenging it all really is.

    Florinda  |  November 27th, 2007 at 8:59 pm

  • Nataly,

    What a fantastic post. It’s honest, it’s encouraging, it’s bold, and it’s informative. After being an employee, running my own consulting business, and now working on creating my own real business that can function without me, I can honestly say that you have truly embodied the freedom, excitement, and out right terror or being on your own as an entrepreneur.

    I like where you said it is a, “constant state of scary vs. something that just comes and goes.” That totally nails the feeling and I want to thank you for being so honest about it. It is very common for use to glad face the person in front of us and say that everything is going fine, when inside we are screaming at the top of our lungs.

    Keep up the great work! Have faith in a good idea. Don’t let anyone talk you off the ledge, even yourself. And above all remember that what you do openly strengthens others who need someone to look to as an example of what they can do to.

    Rock on,

    Charles McKeever

    Charles McKeever  |  December 4th, 2007 at 9:25 am

  • Well written and honest post. I’m on my 2nd venture and it is very scary. I have some of the fears you list above and some others. I have noticed though that the more you become comfortable with the risk the days or moments can be less scary. I’m also not the main breadwinner at the moment in our house but within in a few years that could change! :-)

    Sometimes a week goes by and I’m scared if I’m doing the right thing every day. Then I’ll have days where I feel this is exactly what I should be doing. Often it’s an hour or a few minutes each day that I feel ‘this is the way to go.’ and the rest of the day I say ‘what the heck am I doing?’

    When I’m faced with a big expense (still more dollars going out than coming in) then I get scared again. I’m about to make the decision to hire an SEO firm (I’ve never done SEO before for any of my sites) and that scares me. I could be wasting thousands of dollars but then again it cound end up making me thousands of dollars.

    Good luck with your fears. They never really go away (I don’t think). It is important to get a network of entrepreneurs that you can meet with formally or informally just so you feel sane. It’s one thing to read about someone’s fears on their blog and quite another to see it in their eyes and relate b/c your fears collide in the space between you. Cheesy I know!

    You might like a post I wrote recently called The Power of Positive Thinking and Action at

    Aruni Gunasegaram  |  December 4th, 2007 at 9:51 am

  • Is this WordPress?

    Either way, you should change your URLs to customize the words in your title so you’ll get more traffic from Google.

    For example, instead of this post reading as such:

    It could read more like: single-day

    And you’d get the searches from people typing “having your own business” and such into Google.

    Happy Day,

    Paula  |  December 4th, 2007 at 1:04 pm

  • Totally awesome and amazing post! And I feel honored that you are putting it all out there for all of us to ‘go through it with you’. What a priceless experience, for me anyway! It’s just not every day that you are privvy to the nuts and bolts of what goes on behind the scenes. That is an amazing value you are sharing with us.

    Lisa Marie Mary  |  December 5th, 2007 at 6:10 pm

  • Yesterday someone asked me; What is the meaning of doing business? My answer: Having fun always at the same you are helping others with your product or service. Fear!!! Fear to ourself for what we can do to change the world. We all have a mission, if you have fear you cant complete that and the world will miss that thing.

    isasbread  |  March 19th, 2008 at 10:35 am

  • [...] Nataly of WorkItMomBlog tells us having your own business means being scared every single day [...]

    Link Love-Links Round Up No.5 | Work From Home Business Blog  |  September 21st, 2008 at 9:47 am

  • It seems you may have lack of confidence in yourself and your decisions. You can not let your fears of entrepreneurial failure ruin where you want to be and your reason for the decisions you have made!

    You have made it this far and will continue to grow as a person, mother and entrepreneur with confidence and your efforts!

    Work At Home Mom Tara  |  September 22nd, 2008 at 1:54 am

  • I am so happy to have found this post. I have a wonderful business idea and I am procrastinating on it because of how scared I am. My fear is everything you happened to mention above.

    I know I need to just do it and see what happens, but the whole jumping in with both feet idea is throwing my mind for a loop.

    I am looking to set up an appointment with the City’s business resources sector to get help, but I guess that means that everything I plan on doing is for real. Which scares me too. LOL

    But if I don’t do it, I’ll never know and ALWAYS have that nagging feeling that 1. I could have made a difference in my life, 2. I could have made a difference in someone else’s life, and 3. My idea is truly a business worth doing and I missed out.

    Thanks for this post. It’s really good to know that others are scared too.

    (Business not stated because it isn’t started yet, but I’ll come back and let you know after it’s going.)

    Christine  |  August 30th, 2009 at 5:13 pm