The ‘self-starter generation’ are the ones who want to go out there and start their own business and have the drive and courage to actually set something up on their own. And a lot of you do, but we recently came across some research that showed some are discouraged from starting a business because of the fear. The fear being that ‘risk’ you have to take.

The research, commissioned by the National Youth Agency and passed our way by our pals at O2, also found parents and teachers are encouraging you to find a job with regular income. But it’s an exciting, rewarding and extremely brave choice to set up your business, and the majority of you have the skills to get going, but it’s the fear that sets you back. Here are three people who had those fears but managed to get over it. They all now run their own, full-time businesses – and pay themselves too!


What did you fear?

Karan said one of his biggest fears what was others would think of him: “Especially my family and friends but also, I never had any kind of business experience, so I was essentially embarking onto a journey into the unknown. The biggest risk I faced was to drop out of college and leave full-time education – my family were extremely sceptical.”

“I’ve  always loved the idea of working for myself, but it seemed unrealistic given my line of work,” Rebecca told us. “Many journalists are freelance nowadays, but what kind of business could I possibly set up? The fear is always the cost,” she added. “Everyone assumes you need savings or a loan to go it alone. There is also a worry that you will fail, but if you don’t try you’ll never know if you can make a success of it.”

And Rebecca did take a huge risk. She left a high-profile job working as Group Digital News Editor for Marie Claire, InStyle and LOOK: “I’d been promoted twice in a year and was flying career-wise, but I was miserable. I didn’t want to work in London anymore and I felt I’d outgrown the nature of the work I was doing. Leaving my London life behind was a big risk, but absolutely the best thing I ever did.”

“I had to give up certainty of a salary, which was the scariest thing for me,” our third business owner, Ash Phillips said (who also, successful received funding from O2 Think Big for his other business, YENA!). “I had to bills to pay and have in all honesty struggled up until this year when things are staring to click into place.”


How did you get over them?

Positive energy

Karan said he tackled his fears by channeling that energy towards his goals entirely: “In an environment  that’s constantly evolving, you have to learn to change and take risks otherwise without them, your daily routine will never change. I came to the realisation that I wasn’t cut out for the whole “9-5″ system, and it hit me, why spend so much money on education in order to generate a set salary? I mean, we study so hard for so many years of our life then have this limit to how much we can earn, I simply didn’t agree with it.”


Getting support from those around you is great, especially if they understand what you do and can spread the word to their contacts who might be interested. But don’t forget about support from those who have been in your situation before. People are nice - who knew? – and they actually will help you if you ask. “I had a lot of support from my friends and family – who were incredible,” Rebecca says. “I also asked an accountant for some advice and I spoke to others who’d set up their own business for tips, and the rest came from networking, which is also free!”


Don’t assume setting up your business comes with a ridiculous amount of overheads. Rebecca has an office at home, so her overheads through the business are things such as travel, broadband, her phone and domain names. “You can build a brilliant website for free nowadays, and LinkedIn doesn’t cost. There’s also loads of free advice online.” Ash agreed: “Lower your financial outgoings as much as possible. This pressure can get to you if it hangs over your head for too long.”

Research and meetings

Getting over the fear is made more realistic by realising how needed your business is – you need to do your research. Talk to potential clients and see what they would want. Talk to your target audience to see what’s missing in your business idea, and what people can gain from it. Find out what’s already out there and if there’s a gap for yours. “I booked a trip to New York and started researching and setting up meetings,” explained Rebecca. “The more I talked to people, the more I realised my goal was possible. The only way to combat your fears is to face them head-on. If something doesn’t work – at least you know you tried it and can rule it out.”

Phasing out

An easier way to slide into your business full-time is to not do it straight away. Can you balance it alongside your full-time job? While it’s small and new, it’s likely that it’s manageable. Find out how it works and, then reduce your hours at work. Ash took the leap, but a gradual, and slower leap than the others: “I did try to transition my work by going part-time, and then phasing out that work and bringing my own in, bit-by-bit, but there was obviously a cut-off point.”

Getting stuck in

“I developed a philosophy of if it isn’t going to kill you, or put you in prison, then you have nothing to actually worry about,” Ash said. “Fear can hold a person back a lot and over my time self-employed I’ve tried to eradicate that as much as possible in order to get stuck into every task that comes my way. There is always a way around the obstacles that come up, it just takes a little initiative to work it out, but at the end of the day, what’s the worst that could actually happen?”

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