What are small business owners afraid of?



It’s the spookiest time of the year, and we’re thinking a lot about what gets us scared.


Every time we do a small business spotlight, we ask small business owners what their biggest struggles have been, and what made them nervous to start or keep going. We’ve compiled a list of what small business owners are afraid of, and how we can help.


Confronting their shyness


When Emily Gerber, CEO of the GBS, got started in the small business world, camera-shyness was her biggest struggle.


“I was very much not a confident person,” she said. “I realized...I was going to have to be the one to go out and talk to people, and that was very hard for me.”


Many of the other small business owners we interact with also struggle with this fear –– it can be scary to make a phone call, organize an interview, or post on social media.


“It was very much out of my comfort zone,” Emily said. What made it possible for her to step out was talking with a business coach –– someone just like who she’d become.


“There are a lot of businesses that need help, and they all need people with different personalities,” Emily said. “That’s what she told me, and it really gave me the confidence I needed to do what we do now at GBS.”


See the full business spotlight here.


Managing a business account


Sarah Black, owner of Made, a handmade clothing and accessory store with a huge online following, didn’t feel comfortable managing her money.


“Finances got neglected,” she said. “What I wanted to do was to just create and teach.”


Sarah says she wishes she would have hired people to help her manage and spend the money she earned in the early days of her small business.


“I was afraid to spend so much money on staff,” Sarah said. “But now I realize that they would have been able to help me know how to use my money more wisely. I wouldn’t have been losing –– I would be investing in my business to help it grow.”


See the full business spotlight here.


Standing up for themselves

Charging a fair price for your work, telling clients bad news, and creating healthy boundaries can be incredibly challenging.


It’s one of the things that Emily still faces every time she picks up GBS work.


“Giving the client the best advice just to have them choose a different direction can be hard,” she says. “But you have to be confident in your work, in your skillset, and know that you’re doing what you need to.”


Not getting traction


People Helping People, a non-profit in Salt Lake City, has struggled with recruiting volunteers for their organization.


“We work with over a thousand women every single year, and we have a small staff,” their Senior Program Director said. “It’s difficult to find people in the community with these specific skill sets that have the time to volunteer.”


With an increased social media presence and a glossed-up website, PHP has been able to attract more support and volunteers, and keep helping those who need it the most.


See the full business spotlight here.


Building the wrong team


Sarah, like so many other small business owners, also faced the challenge of letting go of team members that weren’t helping her mission progress.


“‘I wish I had laid out expectations,” she said. “I think that would have helped me know sooner or even from the get-go that it wasn’t going to work out.”


When she had to let someone go, it brought her to tears.


“I was crying when I had to tell them that we weren’t working out,” she said. “There were things that as a business I couldn’t stand by.”