Breaking Through Entrepreneurial Fears With The Right Growth Strategy

By John Binkley


“Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” – Peter Drucker

2022 is on the horizon, and with every new year comes fresh opportunities, challenges and developments. It is undoubtedly a time for excitement and optimism, but it is also tinged with a fair amount of fear and doubt.

Not that fear is a strange feeling for any successful entrepreneur. While taking on the burden of running a company requires a lot of bravery and a relish for risk-taking, it is natural for uncertainties to seep into our thoughts, and become the source of many sleepless nights.

The fears faced by entrepreneurs are well-illustrated in this piece by Vistage entitled “The 6 biggest fears of any CEO”. It emphasizes several of the standout thoughts that trouble even the most seasoned CEO on a consistent basis.

I thoroughly enjoyed this article, and it has inspired me to build on it based on my own experience at Generational working with business owners at every stage of their journey. Particularly since the introduction of Generational Consulting Group (GCG), we have helped numerous owners find certainty over the direction of their companies, giving them reassurance on their road to realizing their personal and professional ambitions.

Below, I’ll break down 7 notable fears entrepreneurs face, and how strategic growth planning helps to alleviate any doubts. And special thanks to our alliance partners at Vistage for outlining how entrepreneurs can overcome sleepless nights!

Overcoming 7 common CEO fears

1. Fear of failure

It’s the most common fear among entrepreneurs – nobody starts a business with failure in mind, but it can feel impossible to escape the prospect. For many, this is a great motivation. For others, they recognize that failure or mistakes are inevitable on any business journey and use it as a tool to learn and grow.

Taking part in a strategic growth planning session can identify and pinpoint potential missteps, so they can be learned from and rectified moving forward. This can give you the confidence to move forward knowing that if something doesn’t go as intended, you are better placed to reflect on what went wrong and change how you approach it differently later on.

Trust me, failure is not something to fear – not learning from failure is what should keep CEOs up at night.

2. Fear of risk and a bad economy

This is a hard fear to master, as on a macro-economic level, changes outside of a CEO’s control can have a definitive impact on their business. With around 76% of CEOs saying they are concerned about the national economy, it is unsurprising that many entrepreneurs can be intimidated to act based on what “could” happen next.

However, I have seen many company owners use this fear to figure out different ways to do business, evolving with the landscape around them. Again, a strategic growth plan can support this by presenting steps for different scenarios, enabling your team to adapt to circumstances and maintain your trajectory for growth.

3. Fear of low engagement

As a CEO, you’re responsible for keeping your employees engaged. This isn’t always easy – stress, motivation and morale can be tough to predict and manage. But, without securing company-wide buy-in to your growth plans, it is very possible that they will not be followed to the letter, or worse they face active resistance.

At GCG, we have helped many organizations capture that “all for one, one for all” spirit, getting all stakeholders together to find common ground and establish who will be responsible for different aspects of their company’s growth. This removes the sole burden on you as the owner and can motivate your team to be actively involved in shaping your company’s future.

For more on how we do this, check out this client review from Dr. Cristi Bundukamara of Mentally Strong.

4. Fear of your own capabilities

Nobody is perfect, and it is very common for entrepreneurs to experience “impostor syndrome”, where they are uncertain if they should be in the position they’re in. Maybe they are unsure about their knowledge of their market? Or if they have the experience to navigate certain obstacles?

A benefit of working with experienced growth planning specialists like our team at GCG is that they have seen every situation before. So, if you are unsure about your decisions, this expertise can reinforce their ideas or steer you on the right path to growth.

A well-defined plan also gives business owners a unique guide to achieving their own success. When goals are reached and targets are hit, the evidence piles up against impostor syndrome.

5. Fear of missing opportunities

Opportunities are fleeting in the world of business – a trend or deal that was available one day may be gone the next. So, it is understandable that CEOs are fearful of missing out on these, which can either lead them to irrationally pursue everything regardless of the risk involved, or shy away from everything for fear of making a mistake.

Having a strategic growth plan in place gives owners a foundation of stability over their company’s short and long-term future. With this in place, you can better balance whether an opportunity aligns with your current trajectory, and if it would be advantageous to pursue.

6. Fear of change

The human brain actively resists change. Most people thrive on the comfortable, familiar and routine, and anything that distorts that, be it a shift in the industry or an internal reshuffling, can be hard to come to terms with. As such, some CEOs will typically shy away from changing over time, limiting their company’s growth as a result.

A strategic growth plan is key to shifting a “no change” mentality. It can help give you a playbook to how your company should be seeking to evolve in the coming months and years. This makes change less scary and more exciting, as you can track your company’s change and see the tangible benefits this will generate.

7. Fear of the unknown

Like change, the unknown is something many of us avoid at all costs. We take comfort in our everyday surroundings, and while being an entrepreneur requires an element of risk-taking and pioneering, some prefer to keep their venture into “the unknown” as limited as possible.

While the unknown is often unavoidable, it’s daunting because you never know how things will turn out. A strategic growth plan limits this by empowering business owners to take action over everything under their control. With this in place, entrepreneurs can proceed into unknown avenues with the confidence that they have a solid plan lighting the way.

The value of strategic growth planning

Fear is an unavoidable aspect of running a business – even after decades in business I still get butterflies before big decisions. But, the key is to harness fear and use it as a motivator, rather than a deterrent. To drive you forward, rather than hold you back.

As illustrated in the examples above, a strategic growth plan, and the support of a team like Generational Consulting Group, can give CEOs the reassurance to overcome these fears and approach their business journey with confidence.

With a great strategy in hand, you are in a much stronger position to know what steps to take for your company to reach the next level. While it won’t remove the fear entirely, this will give you a clearer sense of where you’re going, why you’re going there and how you’ll get there, and this will remove a significant amount of the trepidation behind any decision.

The team at GCG works tirelessly to help business owners see new light for their companies, developing tailored growth plans and advising them on how to take their business forward. This can remove the burdens and doubts from their mind and help ensure they can get some much-needed sleep.

You can see how we have supported many owners to achieve this peace of mind in the following examples:

To learn more about GCG’s services, I’d encourage you to check out our website. You may also be interested in attending a Generational Growth and Exit Planning Conference, where our associates devote a great deal of time to the importance of intentional growth.