Recently, I was asked the following:

Can you write about how someone that is buying a business for the first time without experience get's over the "fear factor" of not having the experience of owning and running a business?

My response follows:

While I am not a fan of Franklin D. Roosevelt, here is a relevant quote.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

At an intellectual level, most of us know this. But, understanding something intellectually and dealing with it emotionally are two different issues. So telling you “there is nothing to fear” is useless unless we unhinge the emotional anchor. Please forgive the length of this blog post and its imposition on your time, but it’s going to take about a 5 minute read to unhinge your emotional attachment to fear. It probably beats the alternative of a couple of years of psychotherapy. So here we go.

Basically, there are two types of folks: fearless (under thinkers-ignorance is bliss, high self-confidence) and fearful (over thinkers-afraid of what they don’t know, low self-confidence). What about the muddle in the middle, you may ask? Well, picture a seesaw with a fulcrum in the center. Every molecule of the seesaw falls on one side or the other of the center of mass. Like the seesaw, everyone falls on one side or the other of the fearful/fearless fulcrum. After that, it is just a matter of degree.

While I’m not a fan of George Bernard Shaw, here is a relevant quote from him worthy of note.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Basically, there are two types of folks: reasonable and unreasonable. The seesaw analogy applies here too.

I am also not a fan of Gordon Bizar. But, here is a relevant quote from him to complete the quote trilogy.

“If I knew I was going to run into all these freaking problems, I never would have started this in the first place.”

To understand the forces at hand; men think of your wife, women think of yourself, the childless think of your mother. New mom is seconds past the birth of her first child. The pain of childbirth is not only fresh in her mind, it still lingers. In the instant that separates grimace from smile she would tell you that she never wants to go through this ever again. EVER!

This condition persists with a decreasing intensity over time until one day the memory of the pain is sufficiently diffuse and the innate urge to bear again emerges.

The mechanisms governing human decision making and taking action are somewhat complex. But, basically they come down to pain verses pleasure, thinking verses impulse and memory verses time. Fear is a combination of the memory of pain, an abundance of thinking, wrapped in a cloud of uncertainty. These all tend to play out at the subconscious level which communicates back to our conscious awareness in the form of fear.

The unreasonable man has either forgotten the pain, eliminated or substantially reduced the negative side of the thinking process, or has sufficient self confidence to push through the uncertainty. The really unreasonable man does all three. If you would be an entrepreneur, being really unreasonable is part of the equation.

This brings us to the question “how does the really unreasonable person conquer fear?” Here two processes converge to banish the villain. Both are rooted in experience. An intellectual exercise cannot take you here. It will take an experiential event that impinges so heavily on your subconscious mind that the results are achieved below your level of conscious thought.

Process 1: Expunge Fear from Your Menu of Available Emotions

This is dangerous because fear can be a good thing if it keeps you from doing things that are dangerous and where you are ill prepared. But, if you would expunge fear and its block to taking action here is one way to do it.

1. Identify a fear evoking circumstance that you would typically avoid

2. Put yourself in the circumstance

3. Survive it

4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 with new circumstances until fear stops showing up


After a few of these, your subconscious mind literally craps out and stops sending fear messages to your conscious mind.

Process 2: Override Fear by Replacing it with Self-Confidence

1. Identify a fear evoking circumstance that you would typically avoid

2. Put yourself in the circumstance

3. Master it

4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 with new circumstances until fear no longer deters action

The difference between Processes 1 & 2 is subtle but important. In Process 2 you are proving to your subconscious mind that you can master the challenge not just survive it.

Both processes have their place. By not overdoing Process 1 you can leave just enough of the fear response in place to warn you of danger. In the meanwhile, your exercise of Process 2 builds your self-confidence to overcome any obstacle.

Start with Baby Steps

To start either process, just select something you have avoided doing because of fear. Pick something that no matter how wrong it goes you will not die or be permanently injured or scarred. Pick something that no matter how wrong it goes will not cause you irrevocable humiliation or financial loss. Here are some suggestions.

Afraid of public speaking – Pick a topic you know really well and are passionate about. Then teach a class, organize or join a discussion group, present your thoughts to a local service organization at a luncheon meeting.

Afraid of heights – Enroll in an accredited skydiving class, take a donkey ride through the Grand Canyon, take the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, parasail, maybe even bungee jump off your favorite bridge. (double, triple and quadruple check the bungee cord and the connectors –caution is not fear)

Afraid of speed – Take skiing or snowboarding lessons, fly by wire though canyons and trees, take a high speed train ride and stand in the front car looking through the forward window.

Afraid of meeting new people – Attend social organization or church mixers, take a cruise and push yourself to talk for awhile with everyone you meet, volunteer to be a greeter or ticket taker at community events, get a part-time job tending bar or driving a cab.

Afraid of risk in making investments –Join an investment club setting aside a small amount of money that would hurt if you lost it but not mean your kids can’t attend college or you can’t retire before age 83.

Afraid of things you don’t know – You might also try taking on challenges at your current occupation that push your business knowledge and management capability. Start living a little dangerously.

Warning: Some people who make this type of behavior modification become unstoppable and end up owning and controlling big companies and earning lots of money.

The important thing is to keep pushing the envelope until your subconscious mind literally gets it that there is nothing you can’t handle and future fear prompting is no longer necessary. YOU ARE FREE.

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Gordon Bizar

Gordon Bizar - Expert Business Buyer and Finance Coach Gordon simplifies business purchasing and financing. He makes understandable the use of financial leverage to start, buy or build any business with little or none of your own cash. His unique expertise and success track record has led to his appearances on NBC's Today Show, PBS's Late Night America along with segments on more than 120 other radio and TV news and talk shows. He has been featured in articles in more than 25 of the nation’s leading newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Gordon personally bought and built companies in fields as diverse as manufacturing, financial services and business education. He also served as Chairman of the California Task Force on Taxation and Regulation of Small Business during the Brown administration and is sought after as a consultant by businesses large and small and government agencies such as NASA for their technology transfer program.

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