Having a strong fempreneur mindset is incredibly important for the success of your business. One of the scariest moments of my life was getting on a tiny plane headed to Lukla – the “world’s most dangerous airport” – in the Himalayas of Nepal. My husband and I had very carefully planned our trip to include two extra days because of that flight; the flights to Lukla from Kathmandu (and vice versa) are constantly being canceled due to the danger of flying the route in less than perfect conditions. We had already spent the entire day before waiting at the airport only to hear that all flights were canceled (and came VERY close to taking a helicopter instead). After being driven to the plane and brought back to the airport due to windy conditions, we were worried we’d miss another day of trekking due to canceled flights. But just 5 minutes later we were called out again and whisked onto the plane for a very quick departure.
When I began to settle into my seat, I felt a sense of panic I had not been expecting. I reached forward to my husband who was sitting in front of me and said something along the lines of, “I don’t know if I can do this!” But despite my rush of panic, I forced myself to calm down and made it through the fairly short flight with the help of deep breathing and singing to myself in my head (seriously!).
Starting your own business as a fempreneur can feel like flying into the world’s most dangerous airport every day.
You’re putting yourself out on display for all to see and judge your ideas, your skills, and your brand. You may struggle with impostor syndrome, wondering if you really have what it takes to start and sustain a successful business. And people might wonder why you’re doing all of it in the first place. Your confidence might be shaken by the competition and all that there is to learn.
But I truly think that perseverance against fear and doubt is one of the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur. As someone who manages the above feelings while building my own business, here are some of my favorite techniques for pushing through my fears:
Staying in the present
I know. It sounds so simple in principle, but it’s difficult! The perfect example: While I was freaking out, my husband LOVED the plane ride to Lukla. He was so busy enjoying the beauty of being surrounded by the Himalayas that the ride didn’t faze him at all. If I had stopped thinking about the bad things that could happen to us (note to self: do not read articles about aviation safety in Nepal the day before flying), I could have enjoyed that beauty more myself.
How often do you worry about all kinds of future potential issues regarding your business? While it’s natural to want to plan, it’s important to know the difference between planning and worrying. Devote time to plan, but focus most of your time on what can be done today to build a better business.
There’s an episode of 30 Rock where Jack Donaghy gives himself a pep talk in the bathroom mirror right before he’s supposed to give a big speech. Unfortunately, his mic is on, but Liz Lemon ends up saving the day by purposely humiliating herself to create a distraction. I know this seems like a silly example, but I really do give myself pep talks for scary things (especially job interviews or public speaking events!). While my pep talks are usually internal, I don’t think there’s any harm in talking to yourself in the mirror (so long as you aren’t wearing a mic!).
If you’ve got a business that requires selling (most do!), don’t be afraid to practice your pitch in a mirror out loud. It may sound strange, but fear of public speaking along with the fear of rejection can make it very difficult for some people to pitch their business. Practice helps. If you have a really hard time, you may want to practice your first pitch with a trusted friend.
There’s a song by Howard Jones called “Things Can Only Get Better”, and I listen to it anytime I’m feeling afraid to take a big step. I listened to this song constantly as we prepared to leave our much-loved life in NYC to move to Abu Dhabi. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:
“We’re not scared to lose it all security throw through the wall,
Future dreams we have to realize.
A thousand skeptic hands won’t keep us from the things we plan,
Unless we’re clinging to the things we prize.
And do you feel scared, I do,
But I won’t stop and falter.
And if we threw it all away,
Things can only get better.”
This is just one song out of many examples, but music can be a powerful tool for feeling more empowered. Think of all of the best movie montages about overcoming adversity; they are always accompanied by a great song. Choose your own montage song and play it to feel inspired.
Feeling the fear, and doing it anyway
Sometimes it must be done. You have to be okay with being scared and feeling like a faker. If you listen to interviews with the most successful entrepreneurs, most of them will allude to feeling like an impostor at some point.
Some of my proudest moments were also my scariest. Trekking in Nepal was one of those moments. If I hadn’t faced my fear head-on, I wouldn’t have been able to experience seeing Mt. Everest, hiking through remote villages, and taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
Like many of you out there thinking of starting a business or actively hustling every day, I feel fear too. There’s fear in putting myself out there. It makes me vulnerable. I understand. There’s fear in publishing this blog and there’s fear in having my own business. But in the words of Howard Jones, “And do you feel scared? I do, but I won’t stop and falter.” Some of the very best moments in life are full of fear — don’t let that stop you from taking risks and pursuing your hustle.