How can an entrepreneur overcome his fear of the future and the complexity of how to get there?

I just finished writing my own iOS app. I'm literally a click away from submitting it to the app store. I've been stuck at this process (submitting the app) for nearly a week, and this goes back to the following reasons: 1. I have no idea what's going to happen next: sure, I know a thing or two about coding. I also know how the entrepreneurial ecosystem works -- get to know people, promote, make sth useful, hire awesome staff, etc... -- but I always find myself lost, dazed and confused. So many questions and so many companies here and there competing over the same thing. bottom line: I'm afraid of the future. 2. the complexity of how to get there: I read the news, listen to different podcasts, follow the blogs I find other entrepreneurs retweet religiously and all I can conclude is this: I'm even more confused. What should I do?


1. No one can predict the future. So just let it rip. Try this thought exercise: what's the ABSOLUTE WORST THING that could happen? If your app spectacularly fails, then what? Chances are it's not much: you're out the time you invested, and maybe a little embarrassed, but life goes on and you try again.

Honestly, the only way to truly fail is to never try at all. So give it your best shot and hope for the best; that's what the rest of us are doing. :)

2. Everyone is making it up as we go along. There is always a better idea, a newer approach, or a brilliant new technique. But the truth is, 90% (or more) of success is just choosing a path and showing up day after day to keep making steps forward.

Be flexible and ready to make adjustments. But never believe that anyone has this shit figured out.

So take a deep breath and submit that app. Good luck.

Answered 6 years ago

I'm entrepreneur whose had multiple successes and failures AND I'm a psychotherapist who works with people battling anxiety everyday.

Here's some tips (some goofy, some very practical) that have helped me HARNESS my anxiety and turn it into forward motion (instead of the paralysis you're describing).

1. Find a mentor. There are few things as reassuring as an older, wiser entrepreneur saying, "I remember that exact same thing happening to me and here's how I survived it..." A good mentor will be able to commiserate with your fears, help you break creative log jams, kick you in the pants when you need it and even make connections / introductions to help you succeed.

If you can't find a mentor, look at joining a group like Vistage in your area (I'm also in one of these and love it). They're "peer groups" for business owners and executives where we get together once a month for 3-4 hours and talk about business, life, problem-solving, etc. My Vistage group is the least lonely I feel as an entrepreneur each month.

2. Get a therapist. Really. Most entrepreneurs have backgrounds that for better or worse, have steered them towards being their own boss. Things like our families of origin, our socioeconomic status growing up, that time you got dumped at the prom, etc., all effect why and how we want to succeed and what we're afraid failure ultimately means. By talking with someone through the origins of your anxiety about failure, you'll have a better handle on what is actually driving you. Often times, we're less afraid of failing than we think. It's what comes next after we fail that we really fear.

3. Read, read, read. Constantly ingest a steady diet of magazines (everything from Fast Company to Entrepreneur to Coastal Living), newspapers (Wall Street Journal has an amazing weekend edition), to books on tape (you can get classics like "Tipping Point" for free on your phone from most local libraries). The only thing I wouldn't read are blog posts and social media of entrepreneurial experts - those often leave people feeling overwhelmed with all you're not doing or should be doing, instead of just sitting at your computer and getting the necessary aspects of your job done.

I find that holding physical books / mags in my hand and creating some space once each week to think works best for me. During my Sunday morning reading time, armed with a stack of fresh reading material I've collected throughout the week, I usually come up with an exciting idea or two that I want to apply to my businesses and that re-kindles my motivation and creativity.

4. Create a "I'm going to be successful" mixtape. Okay, I know this one is silly, but it really works for me. Music is powerful, emotive, and can affect us deeply in a short-period of time (think of how athletes listen to a song to psych themselves up before the big game).

My "I'm going to be successful mixtape" tends to be heavily geared towards rap with songs like Macklemore's "10,000 Hours" and "Make the Money," Jay-Z's "Holy Grail" and "SomewhereInAmerica" and MIA's "Paper Planes." A lot of these songs contain themes of overcoming in the face of ridiculous odds and are very comforting for me as an anxious entrepreneur. I fire this playlist up on the way into the office and I'm usually ready to conquer the world by the time I get there.

Those were just a few ideas... hope they help.

If you'd like to set up a time to chat, let me know... this is exactly the space I work in (the psychology of entrepreneurship).

Best of luck!

Ken Clark
Coach, consultant and therapist to entrepreneurs

Answered 6 years ago

Just do something! Hit submit!!!

The future scares me, the past haunts me. So I choose to do what I can right now. Try to work on being only in the now. You have no control over the future.

No one in the history of time has been able to predict the future. They only way to arrive there is to do something today.

There is so much noise out there. Here are ten ideas to overcome this inertia.

1. Act. Hit submit and see what happens. You put in the work.
2. Accept the result. It does not define you don't let fear stop you.
3. Learn something. Overcoming fear stretches you. Your brain will never go back to the way it is. Simple action is powerful. It is a valuable lesson for growth.
4. Be still. Stop the reading, surfing, advice gathering etc. At some point it is noise. Take time each day to consume media. Then take time to be still. Listen to the space between the words.
5. It will be ok. Someone gave me some advice I will never forget. There are no good or bad decisions they simply are. We create a story in our minds about these things. It will be fine. You learn and advance in either case.
6. Constantly be tweaking. Adding value is process of experimentation and discovery. Keep pushing the boundaries.
7. Keep it simple. Complexity is the enemy of good. Get your product out there sooner than later to test demand. Then rework.
8. Connect with people. Have a real conversation. Encourage someone else to overcome a fear. Make a person to person connection. That is more valuable than any app.
9. Go for a walk. Take yourself out of the environment and headspace that is echoing so loudly. Get some exercise. You will gain perspective.
10. Celebrate. Once you do hit submit. Have a celebration and reward yourself. You worked hard.

Some ideas I try to practice. When I say you up above, I really mean me. Everyone has been there.

Answered 6 years ago

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