The fear inherent in growing a business

Another fear article for you folks. Again, I’m writing this because I’m sure I’m not the only one going through these emotions right now. Lots of people are riding this web revival – just look at the number of entrepreneurial blogs there are. Everyone and his dog is in business in some way.

I’m also trying to be more aware of what’s going on in my head and my body, and have started to learn to recognize certain things. I’m still at the brute force stage of watching. It takes an event of seismic magnitude to register with me. And fear certainly knows how to shake the earth. So I’m noticing fear more than the more subtle emotions at the moment.

Again, just look at “Merlin Mann’s”: feedburner numbers to know that there’s a gazillion life hacker/searcher dudes out there, trying to figure it all out and make a decent living. All at the same time.

So maybe someone will get some use out of this.

The Blog Studio is doing pretty well. We’re booked solid and taking deposits on future work. We’re doing more and more high profile projects, and our SEO efforts are starting to bear fruit.

In eight months we’ve grown from me working in the evenings and weekends to me, Lucia, “James”:, “Mike”:, and “Richard”: Each of whom needs a workstation and a paycheque. < insert hypertension here />

So I’m equally exhilerated and horrified. Proud and panicked. I vacillate between the two at sufficient hertz to make my right leg do an endless tribute to Elvis.

Despite our success, every cent that comes in is reinvested in staff and equipment. Instead of watching my bank account grow, I’m watching my exposure increase. Which can be just a tad nerve wracking.

Now I’m sure this is the normal state of the entrepreneur. We’re prone to living on the edge – if I were risk averse I’d be working as a bit player in someone else’s dream. But at some point the whole managed-risk thing becomes a bit tiring – boring even. So my question is, am I alone in this fear/thrill/joy/panic thing? Is this universal, or is it really just me?

6 thoughts on “The fear inherent in growing a business”

  1. With power, comes great responsibility 😉

    No worries, Peter. The start of a business is always the most stressful. I tried it during college and it almost killed me. Like you said, you’re taking on more high profile projects now. High profile projects yield more capital while requiring the same staff as low profile projects. Keep pounding the pavement and you will find yourself with only high profile projects. Once you get enough exposure, there will come a time when you have enough staff that can accomplish enough work that generates enough cash that will create more money for yourself.

    I always found that it helps to actually schedule a stress-relieving activity. Schedule a time every week where you read a book or something stupid that is purely for yourself. That should help you maintain through the fear. Focus is important.

    As you grow, hire passionate people, land important clients and, most importantly, keep your integrity. Those who stay true to their passions always succeed in the end.

  2. Way of the warrior man… fear is there to help keep us from failing. A healthy amount of fear will drive you away from the pitfalls that trap you.

    So lets keep moving and make everything count. It may just be about investment now, but as long as each decision will yield a reward, things will always grow.

    True, we may be headed into a boom again — but we’re in a great place to position ourselves. 36 million blogs is a pretty healthy and strong culture to be established in. We just have to remain practical and not get involved in hype.

    All the best.

  3. hey Peter,

    i’ve been freelancing for three years. Life has treaten me stressfully, but good enough. i haven’t stopped working but i’ve never managed to earn enough money to actually hire someone. Here in Belgium, work cost is close to unbearable (thank you 200 years of labor unions) – especially in an industry where one competes with Eastern Europe and Indian webdev firms… So what i have to charge 50 eur (so i can make 20-25 net) can cost only 10 eur in india, for almost the same result (don’t know about that though, never tried, and never will).

    anyway, try to save some free time to fill the batteries, because you’re in for a very long run – never forget that: be good to yourself,don’t expect the state to be good to you.

    all the best,


  4. The big projects don’t scare me. I thrive on the project management side of the business. I continue to have difficulty finding the profitable assignments.

Comments are closed.