How I conquered the fear that kept us from starting a business
It seems so long ago now, but starting a business terrified me.
Growing up, I was a paint-by-numbers sort of gal. Not much of a risk taker. No high diving boards or cliff jumping for me. I dressed like everyone else dressed, talked like everyone else talked, got good grades in school because that’s what I was supposed to do, and generally tried to fit in and make people happy.
Creating a life that was predictable, safe, and by the rules was my goal. Then I met my husband.
Ryan is the polar opposite of me in so many ways. I crave security. He embraces risk. I do what I’m supposed to do. He’s a bit of a rebel at heart. I prefer to place my feet into the well-worn grooves of those who have walked before me. He likes to stomp out his own path through the bush.
When he began to share his dreams of running a business one day, they initially sounded exciting. Then the reality of what that actually meant hit me with full force — quitting his stable, respectable, Monday-Friday gig, complete with giving up that lovely slip of paper they hand you every two weeks. You know the one. It’s called a paycheck.
At which point I began to secretly hyperventilate and conjure up excuses for why we couldn’t or shouldn’t ever actually pursue this passion of his to start a business. We had just had our second baby. We had barely any savings (we had just finished paying off school debt not long before). We needed a new car. The economy wasn’t so hot right now. He looked really good in a tie. Blah, blah-blah-blah, blah. Excuses.
Seeing a small amount of wisdom in my blabberings (mainly, the desire to save up a bit more while he was making a reasonable salary), and probably mostly because he’s gracious and long suffering, Ryan conceded that we should wait a while. Which turned into 2 years.
Then he began talking about a business again. Drat.
Except, something miraculous had happened in the ensuing two years.
I had started a blog. And made money on it. By myself.
What had started as a hobby and passion project offering me some young-mom, nap-time satisfaction had somehow morphed into a legitimate thing that was beginning to bring in more than latte money.
Surprised probably wasn’t the word for it. Stunned, disbelieving, and rocked right down to my security-loving foundations was more like it.
I had become an entrepreneur.
Who would have ever guessed it? The girl that should have been voted most likely to play it safe had somehow become one of these crazies who was making real cash on this interweb thing (thanks, Al Gore).
It wasn’t much. It was twenty bucks at first, then a couple hundred here and there, and then shockingly a couple thousand later on. It wasn’t exactly a full time income (barely a part-time one most months), but here’s the thing… it was something and I had done it.
That was the kicker. The incredulous fact that making money with my own business wasn’t just a lofty dream, some pie-in-the-sky idea that seemed unachievable. It was staring me in the face, pregnant with the possibility of learning to make more.
It didn’t matter how small the beginnings were. It mattered that they happened. I had a win that told me there were more wins to be had. It was the teensiest taste of what could be if I really applied myself to it, and especially if we both worked hard together, of success and freedom and satisfaction, and it lingered sweet on my tongue.
The fear began to go away after that, and this summer we celebrated 5 years of supporting ourselves solely through entrepreneurial pursuits.
Last week, Ryan and I had to make a decision about a mentorship opportunity that came his way, but which came with a significant financial cost. We knew it would be hugely beneficial and would offer him immense opportunity for personal and business growth, but it wasn’t a decision we could make lightly. We had to carefully consider our goals and expected outcomes, knowing that for all its promise, there was still a chance that it wouldn’t give us the return on investment we were hoping for.
In the end, I confidently, securely, joyfully told him I thought it was the right thing to do and that he should go for it. And we were both reminded of how far I had come in learning to support his dreams (and in fact, to dream right along with him).
To step into both the glorious adventure and the risk that goes with entrepreneurship.
I’m not scared anymore. I’m not looking back.
I’m even learning to forge new paths and walk on untrodden pathways myself, without fearing that just because a decision or lifestyle choice we make is unconventional, it somehow makes it wrong or off-bounds.
And if I of all people could get to this place, move past my fears, and achieve a win that proved to me we could really do this thing together, then so can you.
You are more capable than you know. More hard-working and persevering that you might believe yourself to be. More talented than you may yet understand.
You might just need to step out in faith, take that leap, and prove it to yourself.
If you haven’t gone ahead and started your business yet, what’s holding you back?
If you’ve overcome the paralyzing fear that I experienced of leaving behind the so-called security of a job, what was the game changer for you?
The top image is from the summer after we “took the leap” and had Ryan quit his job so that we could launch our music school. As hard as it was, I have such sweet memories of that time in our lives. 🙂
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