There's an enemy that you have to face if you want to run your own business -- online or otherwise. It keeps a lot of good business ideas from ever being developed at all. It keeps others on the sidelines or in the shadows.

If you're an entrepreneur who's not thriving (or if you've wanted to start your own business, but haven't), chances are good you've been letting this enemy hold you down. Fortunately, it's entirely within your power to beat it.

The enemy is fear.

  • Fear of failure keeps many people from acting on their dreams and ideas at all.
  • Fear of what others will think keeps others from finishing what they've started -- from releasing their products and exposing themselves to others' opinions.
  • Fear keeps some who've got their business up and running from doing what's necessary to make them succeed.
  • Fear keeps some who've failed before from trying again.

I read a book on my Kindle this morning that got me thinking about what I'm afraid of and how it's affected my business.

Fear didn't keep me from quitting my regular job and starting out on my own 13 years ago. I already had enough experience tackling things that were brand new to me and succeeding at them to have gotten over the fear of taking on unfamiliar general at least.

When you're building a business, you've got a whole smorgasbord of activities to choose from: create your product, build a website, PPC advertising, blogging, outsourcing, hiring, podcasting, webinars, etc., etc., etc. Nobody does all of them. So how do you choose which to do?

Ideally, you do whichever ones are most likely to propel you to success. In reality, we usually pick the ones we're most comfortable doing. We do what we enjoy. We ignore what we don't enjoy. And we avoid what we fear.

That's probably why there are 100 entrepreneurs limping along in the shadows for every one that's thriving in the sun.

And it's a key to success. When you suck it up do what you're afraid to do, you're also doing what the other 99 people shriveling in the shadows are afraid to do. Which means you stand out from the crowd. And those who are letting their fears beat them admire you for your courage, or watch in awe, thinking you're not afraid.

And once you've faced your fears and survived, you gain the power to face them again.

The book I mentioned reading on my Kindle is Do the Work, but Steven Pressfield (that link goes to a free download at -- I think it's only free temporary to get people talking about it, so download it now -- see below if you don't have a Kindle). Here's a quote I highlighted:

Slay that dragon once, and he will never have power over you again.

Yeah, he'll still be there. Yeah, you'll still have to duel him every morning. And yea, he'll still fight just as hard and use just as many nasty tricks as he ever did.

But you will have beaten him once, and you'll know you can beat him again. That's a game-changer. That will transform your life.

From the day I finally finished something, I've never had trouble finishing anything again.

I have to disagree with one part of the quote -- sometimes, once you've faced a fear and won, you beat it forever, and never fear it again. But even if you don't vanquish it completely, like Steven says, you'll know you can beat it. And I agree 100% -- that's a life changer.

How sad to struggle in your business because you avoid what you fear instead of just doing it -- and becoming one of the successful few who've even tried. The things we fear the most are often the most important and powerful things we could possibly do.

One of the saddest things I can imagine is for someone to spend their entire life living a small fraction of their potential because they decided to accept their fears as true limitations, never stretched beyond where they thought their limits were, and never realized how few limits they really had. It drives me crazy when I see people living this way, avoiding things I know for a fact they could do, if they'd only try.

Do the Work woke me up to the fact that I'm one of them. I now have a new addition in my Google Docs folder -- a list of my fears, what they're keeping me from, and what I'm going to do about it.

If you don't have a Kindle to read Do the Work on, click the image to the left to download a free Kindle book reading app for your computer or smart phone. Or check out the lower-priced, ad-supported Kindle that I mentioned a few days ago.