Without a doubt, an entrepreneur’s biggest fear is failing–understandably, because 95 percent of all businesses fail within the first five years, Colleen Long, a psychologist who specializes in entrepreneurship, says. When you’re starting with those kinds of odds, it’s OK to be a little freaked out.

The list of what-ifs is endless: What if I’m not cut out for entrepreneurship? What if I can’t get this last deal? What if I go bankrupt? But the consequences of failure are mostly in your head, says Jim Koch, a well-known entrepreneur. He points to the concepts of subjective risk and objective risk: Subjective risk feels scary but is actually safe, whereas objective risk can feel safe but is actually quite dangerous. “Starting a business has a lot of subjective risk,” he says. “Yes, it feels scary, but it’s not. At the end of the day, the risk is small.”

“Because entrepreneurs typically work in a vacuum, self-defeating thoughts can become very common,” Long says. “These unconscious thoughts build upon each other, making you feel increasingly negative and scared.”

She advises keeping tabs on yourself by regularly writing a list of accomplishments. Whether you gained three new clients, received positive feedback or sealed a partnership, write it down. “Whenever those fears crop up, you’ve got a point of reference [that shows] you’re actually achieving something,” Long says.

Photo by scornejor.

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