March 8, 2023

Facing Fear in Business

I’m afraid. This thought crosses my mind more often than I’d like to admit. Yet, regardless of what many others may think, I am human and have emotions such as fear. As I’ve grown, I have learned to live with it and almost embrace it. As with anything I want to learn more about, I turn to my trusted source…Google. As I looked around, I noticed that my fears were not abnormal. I even read that someone once said, “The absence of fear is not courage; the absence of fear is mental illness.” If that is true, I am a very sane person. From owning a business to managing someone else’s business to helping support businesses by selling the right equipment, fear still lingers and shows up.  

Some of the fears that come to my mind are.

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of disappointing my boss, family, friends, employees
  • Not knowing where to start
  • Not being an expert
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of change

One of the biggest fears I and many others have is fear of failure. So how do you overcome the fear of failing? I first remind myself that I have failed if I don’t try. I also ask myself, “What is the worst that can happen?” Sometimes that can be a frightening answer you come up with in your head, but when you break it down, nothing can happen to you beyond life-threatening situations that you can’t recover from. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. There are stories upon stories of people that failed multiple times before they succeeded. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t think he had enough skill. Warren Buffet was denied admission to Harvard. Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines was a high school dropout.

Failure is Normal

There are stories of people losing millions of dollars, their homes, and cars, yet they recover, and life goes on. It would be best to look at the excitement and adventure in the journey, not necessarily the result of what you are working toward. It would be best if you looked at failures as learning experiences. Regardless of the outcome of your situation, you never really fail.

You either accomplish your goals on your original path or experience a learning journey and find a different path next time. The worst thing you can do is to give up just because you get a door closed on you or because you fall. You must get up or find a different door. Don’t just lay on the ground or beat your head against the same door.   

Focus on where you want to go and “why” this is your chosen path. I want to provide financial security for my family while doing something I enjoy. I decided on the Family Entertainment business because I love FUN and serving others. This business is of service and fun, and I love the challenge.

I love having a part in creating special moments and memories. I love helping others become successful. So, as a business owner, when I used to get that occasional call about an upset customer, I felt fear. I feared that I wouldn’t handle the situation correctly. I feared that I had failed to create that special memory. Maybe one of my team members screwed up or made a mistake.

Sometimes I could make it better for that guest, and sometimes I couldn’t…no matter how hard I tried. It was a hard lesson I had to learn…I can’t make EVERYONE happy. Some things can’t be undone. Rather than dwell on it, or blame someone, I had to take it as a learning lesson. I genuinely thanked the customer for letting me know so I could make sure that it didn’t happen again, and then I personalized the lesson and accepted responsibility. What could I have done differently to have prevented that scenario?

  • Did I properly train the team member?
  • Did I coach and mentor them enough?
  • Did I hire the wrong person? And what can I do to ensure that our entire team can learn from that scenario and not repeat history so we will grow as a company?          

Another common fear is the fear of disappointing others. This goes hand in hand with the fear of failure. I am admittedly a people pleaser. I am the type of person who will be affected more by knowing that I disappointed someone whom I desire to impress than by having someone yell at me.

One of the fears that often goes through my head is the fear of disappointing my boss, family, and even employees. As Dr. Seuss so brilliantly said, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” There is no way to prevent disappointing others. It will happen. Like a failure, you must embrace and learn from it. Surround yourself with a great support system that will forgive your mistakes and help you learn and grow.  

Fear is Holding us Back

I have heard many people in our industry who are paralyzed by the fear of not being an expert. I have noticed it in Food & Beverage more than in any other area. Many people who start family entertainment businesses say they will not serve food, outsource their food service, or only serve a limited menu. These decisions are often based on something other than the feasibility of their F&B operation but instead on their fear of the F&B part of the business. I admit that I also had this fear when I started my business. I DID investigate outsourcing the food operations because I wasn’t an expert.

Dealing with Fear

Thankfully, I did not decide to outsource it; I pushed past my fears and looked to experts to educate myself. I did research online and learned from others in the industry. Don’t allow emotions, especially fear, to be involved in decision-making. Make decisions based on facts.

Share your fears (and other emotions). Build a strong base of support. Also, don’t be afraid to show your team you have human emotions, like fear. You don’t want them to think you are constantly afraid, but showing you are human and have real emotions will go a long way to building a solid team and gaining their respect. 

There are a lot of different fears that can cloud your mind and slow you down. To push past them, remember the “WHY.” What is your mission/vision? Why are you doing this? Is it worth the risks? Embrace the chaos. There are many moments in business, especially at the management/ownership level, where things are being fired at you from every direction.

There are 100 decisions to make, and you have 10 minutes to do it, and all 100 of them are critical. It’s chaotic, and you are running around putting out fires. Three others have just popped up as soon as you get one out. As far as I’ve seen, this will always remain the same in our business.

You must learn to operate and thrive in the chaos. Find your happy place. Turn on classical music, get a conductor’s stick, and conduct your symphony.

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Amber Lambert

Amber Lambert is the Regional Sales Representative for Betson Enterprises. She began her career in the amusement industry 12 years ago when she started her own family entertainment center she built from the ground up. She also managed a corporate-owned family entertainment center, held a sales role with an industry supplier, and is active in industry associations.