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Six Strategies to Feel the Fear and Set Up a Business Anyway

16/03/2016 12:49 GMT | Updated 12/03/2017 09:12 GMT

I'm into my third year of running my own business and have recently launched a sister company and a lot of people have been asking me where I got the courage from to strike out on my own and work for myself.

I was pretty scared of giving up a good, steady income to be honest - just like everyone else - and that fear wouldn't go away. But, I noticed my desire to work for myself wouldn't go away either, in fact it was growing.

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It became obvious that fear was holding me back - I had wanted to run a business long before I actually took the plunge. Fear was controlling me and stifling my goals and ambition causing me to stay stuck. But, my light bulb moment came when I realised I was actually more afraid of what would happen if I didn't take a risk and start a business than I if I played it safe and avoided failure.

There comes a time when you have to make a decision as to whether you want to grab life by the balls and experience it in all its messy, freaking glory or whether you'd rather play it safe. If you let fear take over, though, you could end up living your life in your head rather than out there in the real world.

Ultimately, I was more afraid of not starting a business than I was of failure so I went for it, but I used these five techniques to help manage my fear and push through.

Accept fear but show it who's boss

Recognise that totally getting rid of fear, isn't usually an option. Fear will always be hanging around in some form or other. And fear, in manageable doses is good for you as it protects you from doing anything too crazy. And actually in small doses it can motivate you to take action, which is good. But the key thing is not to let it take over. Don't give it the bandwidth it's demanding, instead learn to live with it in the background. Learn to recognise it for what it is and push it to the side so that it doesn't dominate your thoughts. Try this: imagine you're at a busy station on a platform. Trains come and go that aren't yours. You're aware of them but you don't get on them, after all you're not going that way.

Define it

Define your fear, write it down, talk about it, paint it, draw it, give it a name. Fear becomes less intimidating when you actually know what you're afraid of and break it down. Just the action of getting it down on paper starts giving you some control back and can be carthartic.

Change the story

Fear isn't real. It's just your imagination focusing on future things that haven't happened yet. Like I said, not real. So I like to think of fear as a story that my mind is creating. If you use your imagination for good rather than bad you can change the story. Whenever you start picturing the scariest possible outcome and fear starts taking over, make a huge, conscious effort to reframe and start imagining in detail the outcome that you desire. Your imagination is a powerful thing so use it to help you not hinder you. Overwhelm the fear with good stuff.

Just do it

Taking action is the quickest way to shut fear up. If you tackle the things that are giving you the fear, you're taking it from imagination to reality and the reality of it is rarely as bad as what you're imagining. Start getting some successes under your belt. The feeling of success and achievement will help push away the fear.

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Photo credit: Saskia Nelson of Hey Tuesday

Act as if you're the bravest version of you

Put that imagination to good use again and imagine what the bravest version of you would do and how they'd react. Try and slip into a new skin and act as if you're that biggest, most kick-ass version of you and imagine you've left the scared version of you behind somewhere. If you find that hard, then try imagining what that cool, badass person you admire so much would do. When I need a dose of badass, I ask, 'What would Lucas Hood of Banshee do'? That usually sorts me out. Who is your 'Lucas Hood'?

Create diversionary tactics

Finally, if all else fails, fill your spare time doing things you love. Focus on creating or learning something new. Keeping your brain active in a positive way means there is much less time for fear to take over. It's hard to give in to fear when you're engrossed doing something you love.

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