When it comes to being an entrepreneur, how old you are is the last thing you should care about.
A 23-year-old can become a founder on the same day a 45-year-old can start their first business. You’ve likely seen stories of young kids embarking on entrepreneurial ventures and also known retirees who begin new businesses.
The truth is, what’s more important than the number of years behind you is your level of courage. What creates a successful entrepreneur is having the fortitude to try something outside of your comfort zone, to be seen failing, and to believe in your abilities.
You might think to yourself, I don’t have the experience to start a business, or, I have too many responsibilities and not enough energy to completely change my life this late in the game. These are simply excuses, excuses rooted in fear.
So how do you combat fear? You become courageous. Here is how I have grown courage in my own entrepreneurial life.
1. Do things that terrify you.
Just like anything, building courage is a matter of practice. The more repetitions of stepping into a perceived fear that you expose yourself to, the faster your courage muscle will grow.
If starting your dream business today feels like too much, start with small actions that push your limits. Speak up at your next team meeting and offer an innovative idea, reach out to someone you admire and build a connection, or do something completely unrelated to work, like skydiving.
Go jump out of a plane and see how much energy you get, and how well you manage the adrenaline and fear. Chances are, you’ll walk away not only excited but also proud of yourself and ready to tackle more in your life.
2. Share your goals.
The sneaky truth about fear of failing is that if no one knows you failed, it doesn’t matter. You can hide failures, but there isn’t much courage in doing so. I didn’t tell anyone I was building a business until I was making significant monthly revenue. The reason being, I was terrified of failing and people knowing. I was worried about what people would think.
But that didn’t stop me. I was too excited about the possibilities of doing some new, learning something I was interested in, and yes, building money on the side. But by keeping it under wraps, I was playing in my safety zone.
When you share what you are doing, it forces a sense of accountability to be placed on you and to be courageous despite what others think. And if you fail in the beginning, this builds the courage within you to keep going, to realize that you can hit hurdles and still continue on. You’ll be building a callus of courage. Sure, your skin may break in the beginning, but over time your abilities will harden, and what once was painful no longer will be.
3. Embrace the never-ending pursuit.
Once you push past the first level of fear as an entrepreneur, there is a moment where you feel courageous, but this quickly becomes the new norm. What once was terrifying no longer is and a new set-point of comfort is established. You can’t stop here, otherwise, you’ll remain in that same status quo sensation, only slightly better off.
In my case, I reached a point where I felt confident in sharing my entrepreneurial business with others. But once I overcame that hurdle and stepped full-time into entrepreneurship I was hit with a slew of larger and even more terrifying hurdles, problems, and insecurities. This was part of the journey. There will come a time when you must decide whether to stay on the road of this journey or get off at the next exit. I chose to fully embrace the endless pursuit, and search for more courage along the way.
This is the path of the entrepreneurial journey. It requires you to claim your power and dig into deeper courage in every moment. A choice one can make at any age.