Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Money

The Most Common Money Fears of Entrepreneurs (and How to Get Over Them)

Fear is pretty common as you enter the beginning stages of entrepreneurship, especially where money is concerned. After all, no one is going to be handing you a paycheck anymore. You may also be experiencing feelings of doubt, inadequacy, and—my personal favorite—“future tripping.” You know, when you have daydreams of impending failure. Will people actually pay for your product or service? What if no money comes in next month? What if you can’t pay the bills?

But while these fears are totally normal, it’s important to keep them in check. One mark of a successful entrepreneur is the ability to get comfortable with fear, look at it objectively, and find solutions. On the other hand, if you get stuck in a fearful mindset, it’ll be much more difficult to take action and do what your business really needs to move forward.

Here, you’ll find some of the most common entrepreneurial money fears—and advice from someone who’s been there on how you can start getting over them.

1. Spending Money on Your Business

It’s not easy to part with your hard-earned savings, but the truth is, there’s almost no way you can propel your business forward without eventually having to put some money into it. At some point, you’re going to have to think about ways to expand—and whether that’s hiring a new employee, getting office space, advertising, or anything else, it will probably cost some dough. Even if your business is technically “low-cost,” you may eventually have to spring for a clean website design, hosting, business cards, marketing, and so forth.

I recently had this realization when I hit a plateau and was looking for new ways to build my brand. After researching ways to combine my passions for personal development, business, and writing, I came across the idea of life coaching. It was the perfect way to grow my business! The only problem: The certification would cost me close to $6,000.

I had a big decision to make here. While I had the funds saved up, I certainly didn’t want to let them go. However, after careful consideration, I realized my brand would be much worse off if I didn’t at least try. So in April, I signed on the dotted line. Since then, I’ve expanded my horizons, learned new skills, and even picked up some clients—both for writing and coaching. Yes, I had to spend a lot of money, but the truth is, I’ve made most of it back already. Not too shabby!

The moral of the story? Making an investment in your business can be a great thing in the long run. If you’re having a hard time deciding whether or not to spend some dough, ask yourself, “A year from now, what would the impact on my business be if I did this—and if I didn’t?” Seriously sit with this question and then make a decision. The answer usually becomes crystal clear.


2. Charging Too Much

Most entrepreneurs hate figuring out how much they should charge. They’re afraid that clients won’t pay a high rate—especially early on in their business—so they end up under-charging most of the time. The end result? Many of us end up overworked and underpaid.

When I first started freelance writing and blogging, I would troll through job boards, thinking that $2 per 500 words was industry standard. What resulted was me slaving away at 100 articles about mating spiders and bed bugs, only to make an extra $200. Definitely not worth it.

I had to get clear on what my services were worth—and now, I’m making $150 for each 500-word article I write—on topics I actually enjoy. How did I do this? My story involves a lot of trial and error. But a good starting point is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s the going rate for the product or service I’m providing? (I did some research with editorial associations when I was deciding on my rates.)
  • How much is my time worth?
  • What are my current expenses?
  • How much do I need to charge to make a profit?
  • What’s my expert status? What’s my street cred? (Once I upped my authority by getting published in big outlets, I was able to up my rates.)
  • For more help figuring out how much you should charge, Marie Forleo has some great stuff. She covers anything from how much you should initially charge to how to increase your rates.

    3. Saying No to Projects

    In the early stages, it’s tempting to take any and every piece of business that comes your way. Any money coming in is a good thing, right?

    This may sound counterproductive, but it’s important to say no to some projects sometimes. First off, many times the burnout is not worth the money. But beyond that, it’s important to be very clear on the kinds of projects and clients you want to be known for, and spend your time seeking out and working with those people. If you can build relationships with clients you care about, that’s going to be much better for your business in the long run than if you spend your time on a bunch of one-off projects that aren’t helping you build your reputation (even if they bring in money in the short-term). Building relationships with your good clients can lead to referrals, long-term gigs, and even a retainer for their big projects. It makes it easier to get paid well and work on cool projects, and it takes out a lot of the legwork of finding new clients.

    One way I make sure a project is worth my while is by asking some essential questions during an exploratory Skype meeting, like, “What does your budget and timing look like?” and “What are your overall expectations for the final product?” These questions are designed to help me figure out whether or not a project or client would be a good fit and is worth the time. It’s a great way to weed out the bad apples and get to projects you’ll love.

    Your money fears shouldn’t keep you from becoming a thriving entrepreneur. By getting clear about your goals, taking calculated risks, and knowing when to draw the line, you can avoid a lot of money headaches and move your business forward.

    Photo of woman managing finances courtesy of Shutterstock.