People can smell fear.
Whether you’re at a business meeting, pitching to a prospective customer or talking to the bank, fear can be your worst enemy. People love genuinely confident people; they trust them, appreciate and want to be around them. A posture of fear and timidity won’t help you grow your business.
But fear is real; the fear of failure likely being the biggest. It shouldn’t be a surprise that entrepreneurs struggle with fear; the Bible is littered with examples of men and women who found themselves in fearful situations, and there are lots of situations you can find yourself in that will tempt you to be fearful.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
– Nelson Mandela
It’s unrealistic to think you can eliminate all fear, but there are ways to press on in the face of it. Executive coach, author and long-time Arrow Leadership trainer Bobb Biehl says that, “Confidence is a by-product of predictability.” In other words, the more you can predict or be comfortable with how something is going to go, the more confidence you will have going in.
Predictability isn’t easy in a world of constant change, but there are some practical things you can do to increase the odds of being prepared for whatever happens. Research and solid preparation are keys to fear-busting.
For example, if you’re going on a sales call or making a presentation, take time to learn as much as you can about your potential customer. Research their history, products, and key competitors, and think about what keeps them up at night. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Have they experienced any glitches or successes in the industry or with your company in the recent past (Double-check with your team before you go). Think through potential questions and objections in advance.
- Who do they know that you might know? Common connections can help you and your customer or client settle into a natural conversation quicker.
- Test your technology in advance so there is less chance of a foul-up; better yet, bring tech support with you.
- Map the distance to their office so you aren’t surprised, stressed or late getting there on time. Or go the night before to get your bearings; the cost of a modest hotel room could pay big dividends the next day.
- Test drive your presentation. Try it out on your staff or team…better yet your kids; they’ll give you honest feedback!
- Bring a colleague. Having a trusted partner with you adds a sense of security and gives you double the ears and eyes on your customer. They can also add color commentary with points you may have forgotten, and you can debrief with them afterwards.
- Whatever happens, make your goal from the start to learn, serve and encourage. Starting with this end in mind can give you focus and pays big dividends.
- Embrace Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Remember…you are called to this; so, let your light shine!
Cheering you on!
Dr. Steve Brown
President, Arrow Leadership