Do You Feel Naked And Afraid In Your Business? Blog post written by Lori Bumgarner, career coach, personal branding expert, and client/partner of HPMG, and Justin Hill, business coach and CEO of HPMG
As a business owner, you know everything about your business reflects on you as a person. Because of this, you experience a level of pressure others do not. It’s a form of vulnerability that can make you feel naked and can lead to all kinds of fear. Fear of messing up and letting down your customers or employees. Perhaps fear of not having all the answers or appearing unknowledgeable (also known as “imposter syndrome“). Fear of failure. And in some cases, even fear of success. But, you know you can’t show any of these fears. Doing so would make you feel even more naked and afraid.
So you push those fears down and hide them from those around you. When this happens, you start to isolate and life becomes lonely. This then leads to more fear. It becomes a vicious cycle.
I felt naked and afraid.
I know this type of fear all too well. When I first started my coaching business, I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and to succeed quickly. I measured my success and worth by my business’s numbers. When the numbers weren’t in the black, I felt shame and embarrassment. I dreaded the question that always seemed to come when encountering a friend or acquaintance.
“How’s your new business going?” Like most businesses, it wasn’t going well in the beginning. But to try to evade shame and embarrassment, I would smile and say, “It’s going great!” And then of course I would feel worse for not being truthful. This led to an avoidance of such encounters, which became very lonely.
I was afraid of admitting my need for help.
I knew I needed help. Preferably from someone who had taken their business to the place I wanted mine to be. I wanted to learn from both their wins and their losses. Logically it made sense to seek out this kind of help. Since I’m a career coach, I understand the importance and necessity of coaching. And I needed a business coach to show me how to run a successful business. Especially since my education and background was in psychology and counseling, not business.
But emotionally I was fearful of admitting my need for help. I knew I’d have to expose my business’s numbers and its flaws, which would also reveal my own personal flaws. It was likely I’d get emotional and even cry when sharing these things. I hate crying in front of others! Talk about feeling naked and vulnerable! And I was also afraid that, as a woman, if I cried I would not only show weakness but also perpetuate female stereotypes. But I also knew I had to get help if I wanted my business to succeed.
A safe place to be vulnerable.
Initially I met with a formal business coach, and he was helpful in some ways, but he just didn’t get me. I don’t think he tried to get me. It was only after meeting Justin Hill of HPMG and working on some projects with him did I realize here was a businessperson who I aspire to be like and who really gets me and what I’m trying to accomplish. He had hired me to provide some services for the recording artists he previously managed. And I also became a client of his. I initially hired him to do a re-brand of my business and my website. But he did more for me than just create a logo and a website.
He became my coach and my mentor. Because he took the time to really get to know me and my goals, I felt like he provided a safe place for me to be vulnerable about my business. A place to bare all without fear or shame.
This led to not just a re-branding of my business, but a re-invention of my company mission and my goals. I don’t think even he realized at the time this is the direction things would go. But this shift has not only improved my business significantly, it’s also given me confidence and confirmation that I’m now operating my business in a most authentic way. Because of this, I’m able to be more vulnerable with others.
It turns out this vulnerability I once viewed as a weakness is actually a strength because when I share it, I get more clients. This is because they’re attracted to authenticity. And this is why I make a point to pay it forward and teach them the importance of vulnerability and authenticity in my career coaching programs.
Help in overcoming your fears and anxieties.
I originally thought I was getting some marketing and media services from HPMG. But I got so much more. I’ve witnessed Justin use his gifts and talents to help other clients in the same way. He’s even shared with me how clients have felt comfortable enough to open up to him and pour their emotions out to him over the fears they and other business owners often feel.
He has a natural gift for helping business owners in this way. He sees a need and demand for this gift.
Lori’s experience isn’t unusual. My team and I have encountered dozens of clients just like her over the last several years and we’ve always been able to help. Business challenges are something that every organization faces, from the one-person office like Lori, all the way up to the fortune 500 company. Sure, it’s hard to admit when you’re having trouble with problems like cash flow or recruiting and retaining good staff. But until you are honest with yourself, you’ll never be able to reach your true potential.
Admitting to yourself that “It’s okay to need help” is the first step. Reaching out for help is the second step. When reaching out for help, it’s important to find a coach or consultant who truly cares enough for you to invest in you. This is where HPMG is unique.
My personal success has come from people investing many hours in me, mentoring me, and helping me realize who I am supposed to be. It wasn’t always pain free, either! I came from a Midwestern farm family who lost everything in the farm crisis of the 1980s. I watched as my grandfather and father sold assets they had owned for decades just to satisfy debts and hopefully have enough left to put their lives back together. Fortunately I had great teachers and mentors, as well as parents, that pushed me to succeed. They sank their heart and soul into me when I didn’t have a clue which way was up.
By my mid-20s I had a lucrative career in the entertainment industry. And in my 30s I worked in a successful tech startup, first as the COO and then as the CFO. I also built my own company, HPMG, with the goal as CEO of helping people realize their dreams and become not only great business people, but even better people all around.
If it’s broke, it needs fixing.
Here at HPMG we focus on the “fix”. We repair issues that slow business growth. Sometimes this is a process issue or an accounting challenge but a large part of what we do is “fixing” personal challenges. These challenges are often negatively affecting the business. I needed “fixing” many times in my own career when I felt naked and afraid. I’m sure I still need fixing now in some other areas. We are all a work in progress. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or be embarrassed about.
Most small business issues start with the owner and some personal issue he or she is facing. The business issues won’t get fixed until the personal issues do. Going through this process is not only great for the business, but very empowering on a personal level, as well.
For example, Jeff R. came to me complaining that he couldn’t get start-up funding for his new karate studio. His karate studio was a lifelong dream. He’d been a student of the discipline for many years and felt those years spent developing skills and discipline were some of the best years of his life. He wanted to share what he learned with the next generation.
I thought this was an admirable idea and he definitely possessed the skill set for it. But he continued to tell me that he couldn’t get funding to start it up. He would say “I don’t have the money. I can’t get the money from a bank because my credit is bad.” I pushed back as I always do when it comes to money. “Jeff, the lack of money is just an excuse. There is money out there.”
I went on to explain that I felt he didn’t fully believe in his ability to make his dream happen, and therefore was afraid to go find the money. Anyone who’s read my first book, 10 Things You Should Know Before You Launch Your Small Business, knows how I advise anyone starting a new business to start with friends and family FIRST when seeking funding.
Lacking Confidence and Belief
In Jeff’s case he wanted to use his own money or the bank’s money. This is because he was afraid if he used his family’s or friends’ money and failed at his new business, he would not be able to pay them back. Because Jeff is an honorable guy, he would rather put himself on the line with a bank loan than put his family’s or friends’ finances in jeopardy. I understood where Jeff was coming from. But after I called him out on his excuses, he agreed he was lacking confidence and belief.
Sure his idea sounded amazing and was a huge passion for him, but he felt naked and afraid. In order to build the confidence Jeff needed in himself and his plan to ask his family for some start-up funds, we started building a business plan, including financial projections and everything that goes along with it. We also did some pre-launch marketing and leadership coaching for Jeff. All of these things gave him the confidence to know that his business did have a great chance of survival.
Long story short, Jeff took his new-found confidence and business plan to his family and his uncle loaned him $45,000 to get his business up and running. Years later Jeff now has two successful karate studios.
You see, we didn’t just fix a business challenge for Jeff, we fixed a personal hurdle as well. And my guess is all of that will lead Jeff to a much more fulfilled and happy life.
Quiz: Does business coaching make sense for you?
Are you a business owner experiencing fears like Lori’s and Jeff’s? Do you need help dealing with these fears? Take a brief moment to honestly answer the questions in the following quiz.
Directions: read each question and answer honestly.
- Are you a business owner struggling in some area of your business?
- Do you want to overcome the obstacles causing the struggles in your business?
- Are you tired of feeling naked and afraid as a business owner?
- Do you want to overcome your fears?
- Do you want to feel more comfortable and be more authentic in your business dealings?
- Is it your goal to grow your confidence as a business owner?
- Is it your goal to see your business grow and succeed?
- Do you want to provide a vision and future for your employees and customers?
- Do you want to get started sooner rather than later?
- Would you like someone that you can lean on for guidance in running your business?
So Do You Feel Naked And Afraid In Your Business? If you said yes to three or more of these questions, it’s time to get the coaching and mentoring you need. It’s time to stop feeling naked and afraid and replace that feeling with accomplishment and confidence.
Special note from Lori:
As a business owner, you will face various wins and losses. It’s important to have someone safe to vent to when you experience the pain of loss, and to celebrate with the joy of your wins.
Just last month, Justin and HPMG experienced a tremendous loss when the HPMG corporate headquarters suffered a devastating fire.
Even in the midst of this tragic yet temporary loss, Justin continues to mentor me by setting an example of how to handle inevitable loss with grace, positivity, and faith. And how to celebrate hope for inevitable wins in the future.
I’m sharing in his pain. But I’m also celebrating. Celebrating that, while replaceable things have gone up in smoke, irreplaceable things like Justin’s talent and sincere love for helping others succeed haven’t. They’re still here. And they’re here for you.
Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH, a passion and career coaching service that helps people get unstuck to pursue their passions and find work they love.