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Fear and Entrepreneurship

Your stomach ties itself into a knot. Your heart races nowhere as your mind sorts through every conceivable worst case scenario.

We call this “fear” and our instincts often scream for us to avoid it at its source.

As irrational as it can be, as silly as it sometimes seems in others, fear is something we have to continually confront throughout our lives.

But artists, entrepreneurs, and ambitious people especially—who often elect to walk paths and choose goals steeped in uncertainty—have to learn how to live with fear if they want to go far.

Because what should scare us most about fear isn’t how it makes us feel, but how it tricks us into denying ourselves the things we want most.

Understanding Fear

For many neuroscientists, “fear” refers to the physiological state of a particular neural circuit in the amygdala that decides how we respond to threats.

The way we experience fear, however, is a negative emotional response to perceived danger that affects us both physically (rapid heart rate and breathing) and mentally (expecting a potential undesirable outcome). Physiologically, the fear of public speaking could feel very similar to the fear of getting hit by oncoming traffic.

Fear is supposed to serve to protect us from harm and preserve our well-being.

When it’s not actually protecting us, however, fear can be an obstacle. In a recent survey of our readers, fear was second only to marketing knowledge when we asked what almost got in the way of getting that first successful sale.

fear in entrepreneurship survey

“I was kind of scared to launch; [I] didn’t know if my website was lame or not.”

—Anonymous Store Owner

The 5 Types of Fear

“Fear” is just the word we use to capture a feeling that can vary greatly in intensity, duration, and irrationality that can be triggered by any number of things.

So in order to understand it, it might help to group fear as we commonly know it into 5 categories described by Dr. Karl Albrecht in his book Practical Intelligence:
• Extinction: The fear of no longer existing (a.k.a death), which gives birth to the fear of heights or flying.
• Mutilation: The fear of losing any part of our bodies or being physically invaded or harmed (includes the fear of spiders and sharp objects).
• Loss of Autonomy: The fear of being helpless because of physical or social restraints that are beyond our control. This includes the fear of closed spaces or even commitments that might make you feel like a prisoner.
• Separation: The fear of rejection and being unwanted or unvalued by others, which can be especially damaging when you consider that we are social creatures that crave connectedness. This is usually the voice in your head that asks you, “What will people think?”
• Ego-death: The fear of losing our established sense of self, having our confidence crushed, or questioning our own competence and understanding of who we are. This includes the fear of failure and shame.

Each type of fear can be tied back to our needs as humans, but the last 3 categories are perhaps the most prevalent for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Are you afraid of commitment to a new venture and the loss of freedom that it might entail? Are you afraid that being successful might mean you lose the life you know or your current circle of friends and family? Are you afraid of the shame you’ll experience if you fail?

These are the kinds of questions only you can answer; fear is very personal after all. Our tendency to be fearful or anxious may be genetic, but what triggers it is something we can learn from our environments and experiences (i.e. phobias or chronic fears with specific triggers).

However, fear can also be what defines an entrepreneur.

The Fear of Failure Can Be an Entrepreneur’s Friend

You’re probably familiar with the “fight or flight” instinct we rely on when we encounter any source of stress. The choice we have seems binary (do you address it or do you avoid it?). But there’s a third option that we sometimes choose instead: “freezing” or no action at all.

In animals, like possums, the freeze instinct can be justified as a way to automatically “play dead” when confronted by danger. In humans, it can result in inaction or indecision that we might mislabel as run-of-the-mill procrastination.

For entrepreneurs, the fear of failure comes out of our assessment of threats in situations where we could potentially lose. These situations force us to recall what failing feels like or the consequences it has led to in the past.

However, that can lead to one of three outcomes:
• Flight: We avoid facing the situation altogether.
• Freeze: We find ourselves paralyzed in the situation and unable to commit (such as being unable to launch a business even though we know it’s ready).
• Fight: We approach the threat aggressively and fight to control the outcome.

Choosing to fight—to attempt to be the master of one’s own destiny when presented with the prospect of failure—is what makes an entrepreneur.

In fact, this is a common theme I’ve noticed in my conversations with entrepreneurs who often experience a sense of urgency born out of fear: a fear of being last to market, a fear of wasting all their invested effort by giving up, a fear of not being able to pay the bills, a fear of never realizing their full potential.

For these entrepreneurs, fear becomes a rival and not an enemy, as the things that keep them up at night are also what get them up every morning.

The Fear of “Success” (It’s Real)

“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
—Steven Pressfield, War of Art

The fear of failure makes total sense. You can understand why someone wouldn’t want to fail and look badly in front of everyone.

But what we don’t talk about enough is the fear of success. A huge part of it, according to at least two studies that interviewed young adults, seems to be the anticipation of discomfort and drastic change we expect as a result of unprecedented success.

The mere prospect of these uncomfortable changes can create anxiety in otherwise achievement-oriented people and encourage underachieving. The studies found that this anxiety was pronounced in those from disadvantaged backgrounds who anticipate a jarring loss of community and culture from success, or are uncertain what will happen to them if success forces them out of the role that society has for so long expected them to fill.

Dealing With Fear: Breathe, Meditate, Push Past It

“Fearless” is a lie. We just learn how to lean into our fears, even when it hurts, until it no longer does.

It’s easy to say “just face your fears”, but that’s not always easy. Fear is a physiological response and can sometimes take a bit more than just willpower to overcome.

One of the more noticeable symptoms of fear is rapid breathing. Scientists have found that rapidly inhaling (which we do when we’re under duress) improves memory recall and response times that can be useful when we’re faced with a threat.

But when there is no reasonable threat, we can use conscious, deep breathing to help ease fear and anxiety. This is also a key component of mindfulness meditation, which on top of controlling our breathing, helps us look at our emotions and thoughts as passing experiences.

Apps like Headspace or Stop, Breathe, Think (free) can walk you through mindfulness meditation, helping you slow down a little every day or whenever you need to most.

On the Other Side of Fear

Fear is an inherent part of entrepreneurship because uncertainty, risk, and standing out often are as well.

But fear is also the thing that lights a fire under us and gives rise to our ambitions, like the fear of regret, an un-lived life, and unrealized potential. I won’t deny that fear has kept me from doing some of the things I’d like to. But it’s also what pushes me to do the things I most want to.

What’s interesting is that in the dozens of interviews I’ve had with entrepreneurs, the same plot point often comes up in their stories.

Before they started or found success with their businesses, they came face-to-face with the same proverbial monster.

On one side of it was them. On the other side of it was their ambition and everything they ever wanted.
Link to Original Article

October 2, 2017   No Comments

Choosing the Most Effective Social Media Posting Times

It never fails, you received a free eBook and get excited to read about the latest, and best, way to utilized Social Media posting for your business. You hungrily tear through the information and then re-write your marketing plan to implement this new strategy only to receive entirely different information the next day, week, month, and so on.

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to CoSchedule. In their great wisdom, they have put together information from a variety of reports to provide you with the last word in Social Media Post schedules.

We learned in school that there are 4 time zones in the U.S. So, with clients spread from sea to shining sea, what are the best times to post on the various social media platforms?

To decide this, we need to take into consideration where most of these clients are living. According to Census records, 80% of those people living in the United States are found in the Eastern and Central time zones. It would make sense, then, to focus our schedules on time as it is followed in those locations.
Facebook

As the platform that brought social media into the spotlight and taught us a new way to communicate and market ourselves and our businesses, it’s still the first account most new businesses, and 13-year olds, open when getting started in the Social Media universe.

Best Days: Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
Best Times: 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm

Notes: Posting at 1 pm gets you the most shares while posting at 3 pm will get you the most clicks.

Twitter

Best Day: Wednesday
Best Times: Noon, 3 pm, 5 pm and 6 pm

Notes: Wednesday about Noon and between 5-6 are the peak moments of an employee’s break times. Also, Twitter users are 181% more likely to be on their account during the commute home. Hopefully, for the rest of us, this refers to carpoolers who are not in the driver’s seat.
LinkedIn

Best Days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Best Times: 7-8am, Noon, and 5-6pm

Notes: Business people are most likely to peruse LinkedIn in the morning, in the same manner many (used to) peruse the paper. Also, even though LinkedIn is geared more for the business market, the best time to post is still before or after work.
Pinterest

Best Days: Weekends (Saturday and Sunday)
Best Times: 2 pm, 9 pm, and 2 am

Notes: The best window for posting is Saturday nights between 8-11pm. The worst time is during business hours.
Instagram

Best Days: Monday and Thursday
Best Times: 2am, 8-9am, 5pm

Notes: Avoid posting between 3 pm and 4 pm. Posting a video at 9 pm can get you 34% more interactions.
Google+

Best Day: Wednesday
Best Time: 9am, 11am, 12-1pm

Notes: 90% of people on Google+ are lurkers, people who are just looking and not wanting or perhaps not ready to engage with the content or a call to action.
Additional Notes for Each Platform

Facebook: Widely used both via mobile and stationary devices, at home and at work.

Twitter: Audience dependent, as Facebook is also. Often set up as an RSS feed and visited during commutes, breaks and other down times.

Pinterest: Used mostly in the evenings after work and on the weekends during a viewer’s free time.

LinkedIn: Designed for the professional world, viewers use it during work hours and in the mornings.

Google+: Targets professionals in a similar manner to LinkedIn

Instagram: Designed for the mobile platform and therefore used at any time.

So, a special thank you goes out to CoSchedule for their tireless efforts to make scheduling social media posts across all platforms as easy as pie. For this and more information on their services, visit them at Coschedule.com.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success.

September 27, 2017   No Comments

Virtual Assistants-Taking Your Online Marketing to the Next Level


In this era of the Digital Age, more and more people are turning to the Internet to increase their marketing exposure. The problem? Every day the ways to use online marketing seem to grow exponentially.

From Clothing Boutiques to Real Estate Agents, Social Media Marketing has become a necessity to keep up in today’s marketplace. So, as an entrepreneur or small business owner, how do you find the time to run your business, increase your productivity, have a personal life, and keep up with the ever-evolving online marketing field?

The short answer? You don’t. You hire someone to do it for you. Enter the Virtual Assistant (VA).

Who are Virtual Assistants?

Virtual assistants are home-based, skilled professionals, offering businesses, and entrepreneurs support remotely instead of within the traditional office setting. Communication is usually done via email, phone, or even face to face services like Skype. This alleviates the need to provide additional work space at your office or other business location.

Don’t Virtual Assistants Just Provide Basic Admin Support?

Back when remote assistants first came on the scene, the majority of their services focused on administrative tasks that were similar to those of an executive assistant or secretary. They were just done from home. However, with the growing number of VAs available, their offerings now run the gamut, and thanks to the incredible increase in popularity of Social Media Marketing and other Online Marketing, specialists in that area have become easier to find, and are extremely beneficial to have working with you.

In fact, just a few years ago, the University of Florida created the first Bachelor and Masters degree programs to provide accredited education in Social Media Marketing and other schools followed quickly after that.

A Few Things to Consider When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

When you choose to hire a virtual assistant the first thing you’ll want to determine is whether you want them to be an employee or a self-employed contractor. There are pros and cons with each arrangement.

When you hire an employee, even a remote one, you’ll need to provide any benefits your other employees receive, based on their employee status, ie: Full-time, Part-time, or hourly, as well as add them to the regular payroll. A real estate agent in the northern California area reported he has a full-time person who’s only job entails maintaining all Social Media postings for active

If you choose to work with independent contractors or a freelancer you will have none of those responsibilities. But, you will have little control over what hours they work or be able to demand when they can be available.

To be designated as an independent contractor, an individual must be free to determine how the work will be done to completion, free from the client/company’s control. The contractor is responsible for the final product only as far as the terms of their contract requires.

Where Can I find a Virtual Assistant?

Just as the internet provides the opportunity for the concept of a VA to work, it also provides locations, and even platforms to easily find, hire and pay your VA. Here’s a short list of websites that provide freelancers and businesses a way to find each

24/7 Virtual Assistant
Assistant Match
eaHelp
Fancy Hands
Freelancer
FlexJobs
People Per Hour
Red Butler
Time Etc.
Me
Upwork
Virtual Assistant USA
Virtual Staff Finder
Worldwide 101
Ziptask
Zirtual

Hiring a virtual assistant will leave you with more time and energy on your hands to focus on the other aspects of your business.

September 22, 2017   No Comments

Increase Your Traffic with Improved Image Names


We all know the old cliché, “A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words.” From the oldest cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs to today’s social media shares, we are consistently finding new ways to use images to communicate, tell stories, and make sales.

When it comes to e-commerce, companies like Amazon owe a large part of their success to imagery. To hold the customer’s attention, most product descriptions need to be short and to the point. This means you want the photos to speak volumes.

Imagine if you will, you’ve gone through the effort to create the right product, buy the ideal domain name, paid for marketing ads, and launched the perfect website. So, why isn’t traffic to your site what you want it to be?

You need to make sure your buyers can find you, or more importantly, your product. One way to do this is through Image Optimization or, Image SEO.

Choose a Descriptive Filename

By now in your journey through online marketing you’ve probably heard the word “Keyword” from a vast number of sources. According to most experts in the SEO field, keywords appear to be the end all be all of SEO. Primary Keywords, secondary Keywords…Google “Keyword” and the list of sources of info will probably go on forever.

With Image SEO the first location to use your primary keyword will be the image filename.

This means if your image is a women’s top in a specific abstract design, the file name shouldn’t be DSC12345.jpg. Instead, you want to rename it:

“ann-monique-womens-top-abstract-v.”

This gives the search engine spiders something to grab onto and take back to their part of the web.

Start a file name with a lowercase letter or a number and remove all spaces. For multiple words, join them with a dash.

Make the Image File as Small as Reasonably Possible

Loading times can be crucial for websites to maintain traffic. The faster the site, the easier to visit it. Images can have a huge impact on this. Standard resolution for a screen image is 72ppi and most web pages won’t need an image to be more than 1000-1200 pixels wide.

To put that into perspective, a typical smart phone camera today will give you an image at 72 ppi but the file will often be over 3000 pixels wide (or more).

When you are using a website builder online, you may have the advantage of the builder site doing some downsizing work for you. If you aren’t sure yours will, or if you expect to have a lot of images to process, getting a program like Adobe Photoshop would be a good investment.

There are also a few online image editors that work quite well and often don’t cost a thing or have a minimal membership fee with added benefits. Two of my favorites are PicMonkey and Pixl.

Alt Text-aka-Alt Tags

When you get to the point you are ready to upload your image, you will often be given an option to add “alt text” or “alt tags.” This is another good place to use keyword placement.

In one of Google’s articles about image publishing guidelines, they include a section on creating great alt text. Google places a high value on alt texts. In the article, they give the following reasons to consider:

Alt Text provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. They use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s search.

Many people, like users with visual impairments, may not be able to see images on web pages. Descriptive alt text provides these users with important information.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en

To JPEG or PNG?

In most e-commerce catalogue pages, the product is shown in a specific place on the page that doesn’t overlap any other image or text. JPEG images are most commonly used for this. I’m adding this quick highlight in case a need arises for you to remove the background of a photo.

JPEG images include a visible background showing behind any curves or irregular lines. If you’ve taken the trouble to remove the background of the photo of a product but, save it as a JPEG (JPG), you will still be stuck with a background color when you re-open it.

PNGs allow you to make the background transparent so the image can be used on top of any color, texture or other text. This can be helpful if you decide to show multiple products in one virtual shot but don’t have the means to retake the photo.

So Now You are Ready

As history shows us, images will continue to be a primary tool of our culture and the world around us. Now you have the right knowledge to take your products to the next step. Taking the time to Incorporate these into your regular marketing routine will assist your product’s ability to be seen in your customer’s searches and get you the traffic you desire.

So, get your images together and make them work even harder for you.

September 15, 2017   No Comments

Why We Collect Clutter and How to Clear It


My sister sent me this great article about clutter which is a great read if you’ve read 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferris. Here is the Takeaway in 6 Bullet Points, the full article is linked below.

1. Make immediate decisions about mail and newspapers. Go through mail and newspapers on the day you receive them and throw away unwanted materials immediately. Don’t leave anything to be decided on later.

2. Think twice about what you allow into your home. Wait a couple of days after seeing a new item before you buy it. And when you do purchase something new, discard another item you own to make room for it.

3. Set aside 15 minutes a day to declutter. Start small — with a table, perhaps, or a chair — rather than tackling the entire, overwhelming house at once. If you start to feel anxious, take a break and do some deep breathing or relaxation exercises.

4. Dispose of anything you have not used in a year. That means old clothes, broken items, and craft projects you’ll never finish. Remind yourself that many items are easily replaceable if you need them later.

5. Follow the OHIO rule: Only Handle It Once. If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it. Don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one pile to another again and again.

6. Ask for help if you can’t do it on your own. If you feel these strategies are impossible to carry out and you cannot cope with the problem on your own, seek out a mental health professional.

Therese Borchard, Why we collect clutter and how to clear it

August 28, 2017   No Comments