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What Does Fear Have to Do with Running Your Business?

By Sandi Smith
Fear must be somewhat of a taboo topic for women entrepreneurs. I learned this the hard way at a recent local networking meeting. I was delighted when my name was called to be in a hot seat for some coaching from the participants. I always have a topic I could use advice on, so I asked the group “how should I market my new tools that help women entrepreneurs deal with the fears that come up in the running of their businesses?”
What was interesting is I got eager comments about fear from all of the *men* in the room. The women just stood silent (except for two later in the conversation). Well, that’s telling, I thought. I’ve had similar brush-offs at NAWBO with a couple of the women who I know just had to lay off staff. Come on, now, who isn’t scared when something as dramatic as a layoff rips through the company you created with your bare hands?
So what’s going on here?

The only thing I can think of is that some women are too afraid to admit they’re afraid. Perhaps because some people perceive it as a weakness to display fear, they aren’t willing to admit it in public.
Whether you are willing to admit it in public or not, I want you to know right now that fear is normal (the lack of fear is abnormal, that’s for sure). What’s important is that you admit it to yourself.
A majority of the more than 100 women I am around in these pressure-packed, high-growth coaching, training, and mastermind programs are all freely, openly scared to death. They’re also growing like mad, taking on astounding business opportunities including TV, keynote speaking on a big stage, running their own events, and connecting with celebrities and millionaire business owners that are past the stage they’re at.
So what does fear have to do with running your business? The short answer is, just about everything. Fear is a sign of growth in both yourself and your business. If you’re not afraid, you’re stuck, and so is your business.
In future newsletters we’ll provide some tools for dealing with the fears every woman has in running her business. But the first step is to acknowledge that it’s there.

About the author:
©2010 Sandra L. Smith, Inc. Business growth and high performance expert Sandi Smith is a coach, public speaker, author, and scientist. She’s one of a handful of women who have co-piloted a single-engine airplane around the world. Sign up at to get her FREE newsletter full of business-building tips.

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  1. I loved this blog! And ran across you from a misc. FB post.

  2. You post an interesting concept here. Many women do not admit their fears and as a result they have a certain paralysis that keeps them stuck where they are, but in their personal lives/growth and in their business lives/growth. This paralysis and lack of growth makes me so sad for them. I have plenty of fears about a lot of things, yet I am choosing to look at each one and decide if it's something I can change or improve or, in the case of my fear of heights, something I just have to live with or manage or face somewhere down the road. Yet I don't want my fears to stop me from doing what I want to do and what I am called to do. Any of you who are interested in becoming more fearless should keep an eye on what photographer Mary Ann Halpin is doing with her newest book Fearless Women, Fearless Wisdom (release date is 6-22-10). It's a collection of portraits and essays by 40 female entrepreneurs who have chosen to become fearless. I'm one of them and I can tell you it's not just a book, it's a revolution. You'll be hearing a lot about it. Thanks for a thought provoking blog post and I look forward to more like it.

  3. The problem which I found, is that for many social entrepreneurs, all the work to initiate their projects is unpaid.
    Lots of women entrepreneurs are lone parents who work from home flexibly around their children's needs.
    The problems which face anyone in their situation are many and varied, as the children themselves need to be able to 'go without' for the length of time it takes to launch the social enterprise.
    Fear is relative to personal knowledge of individual circumstance/s, and the fear of failure is not limited to the enterprise itself, but relative to all those dependent upon its success.

  4. Fear is a broad term. Fear of what? Success? Being in the spotlight (so to speak)?

  5. this blog is specypic and i like it