Fear Is An Entrepreneur’s Friend

It was back in our startup days, in all the excitement of our first getting into channels, which was followed by an onslaught of competition. We were beginning to see financial daylight, but we were behind in payments, and our channels were slow to pay. I was worried.

“But what’s to worry about?” Cahill (Cal) Brown asked. He was a packaging designer and marketing consultant. “For an entrepreneur, you’re very fearful.”

“I think I’m supposed to be fearful,” I answered. “That’s part of my job. I’m supposed to worry.”

Image by SplaTT on Flickr cc I know: fear and worry, not good words, not entrepreneurial, it’s all “you can do it” and “don’t let the bastards get you down” and “nothing to fear but fear itself” in entrepreneur world.

But I say fear, in the right measure, is good for management. It’s related to having the antenna up, watching for danger.

Do you ever do SWOT? Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Threats are one fourth of SWOT.

That’s not paralyzing deer-in-the-headlights fear. It’s fear like the deer in the forest standing very still, ears perked up, listening for danger. Alertness. Thinking ahead.

If you’re interested in this, I had a good talk with Jim Blasingame about this last week, on his daily Small Business Advocate radio show. It was about at this point in the discussion that Jim added the idea of fear as motivator, not fear as immobilizer.

To hear the archived radio interview click here.

Which also reminds me, Jim and his team are archiving everything these days, meaning that the Small Business Advocate site has an amazing array of 20-minute interviews on every topic in business. He’s a natural interviewer, and his guest list is enormous. He’s been doing this three hours a day,  five days a week for almost 12 years.


  • Jon says:

    Odd, I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life and from my life’s experiences so far, the more fear jumping into something brings, the more opportunity it presented in one way or another towards personal growth. If something causes you no fear, it just isn’t fun 😉

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  • Steve Averill says:

    This is a timely post for me and I appreciate you putting it up. The absence of fear is delusion I have come to believe. I have embraced my fear in running my business. It makes me sober. It make me realistic. It makes me focus on what’s important. In business, fear can be your friend.

  • Mary Anderson says:

    Tough competition is a challenge for great entrepreneurs, they’ll use it as a source of motivation to achieve their goal.

  • Fear Is An Entrepreneur’s Friend says:

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