Afraid of Success? Here's why, and what to do about it

Very common. You’re just starting to get some traction with your business, and then you worry about being too busy.

“What if I can’t support all these customers?”

“What if I don’t have time?”

“What if I take on more than I can handle?”

These fears can raise themselves very early on in the journey.

And the way we tend to deal with them is by focusing on ourselves. You decide you need to learn more skills first. Or wait until you’re ready to handle a flood of clients.

And so, like a turtle, you may want to retreat into your shell, go back to your workshop, and keep building stuff.

The crowded restaurant

If you apply this to someone who has opened a restaurant. They’re worried that they will be overbooked, and that they won’t be able to handle the demand.

What would be the solution here? It may be to check the facts first. Just how crowded is that restaurant right now? If you’re worried about not being able to handle the demand for your service and you don’t have a single customer yet, you may be fighting a non-existent problem.

Another approach our hypothetical restaurant owner might take is to streamline the process of cooking meals and serving customers. What part of their work flow could be improved? What food supplies can be arranged so that customers aren’t constantly told: “we’ve run out.”

But I can guarantee that the solution isn’t to add more items to the menu. And yet, that’s exactly what we tend to do. Let’s build our skills, invent some new recipes, and be prepared to create even more value than we did before.

Value creation isn’t the problem

Those of us who are used to creating value naturally are drawn to creating more value. More content. More ideas. More building. And learning, learning, learning. Build more skills.

Much as I love the idea of building new skills, the problem with the fear of too many customers isn’t one about your capabilities. It’s about capacity.

To return to the restaurant example, the solution to a crowded restaurant isn’t to be learn how to cook more stuff. It’s about implementing the systems so that you can deliver the great meals without necessarily inventing new dishes.

Why we prefer to focus on our skills

There’s a fairly simple reason why we like to address our fear of success by building our skills even more. The “learn more” approach is something completely within our control. After all, it’s always easy to keep getting better, by growing ourselves, isn’t it?

But the problem here is that we’re growing in the wrong way. Or at least growing where it’s not so urgently needed.

It would be far better to work on how to deliver our value to more people, how to get it in front of a wider audience, or even how to get it in front of the right audience who are ready to buy.

And that can be a little more uncomfortable, because it’s almost certainly going to involve bringing someone else into the picture.

Starting with systems

You can see that the delivery mechanism is where you probably need to focus, so that you could handle twice as many clients as you have and do it with ease.

So, if you’re afraid of success, and worried that you won’t be able to handle the abundance of work and new customers, my recommendation is to build some tiny system right now, so that the processes are in place if and when those new customers come knocking on your door.

Anthony English