Learning to manage the fear

Often times when I sit down with a client who is growing their business, expanding or trying new things, they are scared. They’re unsure if they’re making a huge mistake, they can’t sleep at night, or they’re having trouble focusing on their day-to-day tasks. Fear is such a real part of owning a food business.

I should know — Michael and I are in the process of expanding the Noe Valley Bakery to a second location. And every since we started down this trail, I have have the voice of fear screaming at me in my mind.

Many of these thoughts in today’s blog come from Tara Mohr’s Playing Big. I am so glad that I read this book BEFORE starting this journey, so when the fear came up I knew exactly what to do.

When growing or scaling your business, we all have a voice in our heads. And when we’re doing something new, pushing ourselves to take risks, or grow outside your comfort zone — that voice can get very loud.

As we’re signing the lease and going through the steps to open our second bakery, I’m learning that the voice often sounds like “You’re going to make a mistake!” It’s repeating all the worst case scenarios, and showing you a disastrous future.

It is so easy to listen to this voice and mistake it for “the voice of reason.” We might even say something in our “gut’ is telling us that taking this risk is a mistake. But more often than not, it isn’t a mistake, it is just your fear.

Here are some ways that I am managing my fear as we embark on this exciting/terrifying journey of opening a second bakery:

Recognize it: as I said before, I see clients often mistake their fear for the voice of reason, so it is important to learn what your fear sounds like. My fear often runs for worst case scenarios, or tells me that “You’re about the ruin everything!” If you don’t think your fear has a voice, start listening! Learn your fear’s voice so you can pick it out.

Give it a Name: My fear’s name is Suzi Banchee. She’s screams at me hysterically, waving her arms with red cheeks and a frantic face. She says things like “You’re going to ruin everything! What are you thinking? This will never work!” Giving her a name allows me to think a little more clearly. It’s not logic that telling me I’m ruining everything, it’s just Suzi Banchee.

Suzi Cares Very Much About Keep us Safe: The more I listen to her the more I realize that when I’m getting closer I get to something that’s good and helpful, she gets louder and louder. In fact, the more I care about what I’m doing, the louder Suzi gets. Being vulnerable, putting ourselves out there — that’s her worst fear. Suzi Banchee does not like taking risks, she likes being safe. I’m learning to hear her voice as a sign that I’m taking a risk, or growing. The fact that Suzi Banchee is having a heart attack isn’t bad, it’s simply a way that I’m trying to keep myself safe in the face of risk. Everything’s not going to go wrong.

Thank Suzi and Dismiss her: Now when I hear that I am making a colossal mess of my life, I thank Suzi for her concern, and tell her I’ve got it. She may be trying to protect me, but I’ve looked it over, done the math, examined the risks, and I know that opening a second bakery is going to be good for my family and my business. I remind her of all the homework I’ve done before taking this risk, and all of the experience I have.

This is what it is to be an entrepreneur — to manage fear and still grow, take risks and evolve, despite the moments that you look around and think “What am I doing?”

So I’d love to hear from you. What what do you call your fear? And what do they say to you to try to keep you safe?