Afraid of Success

cold feetDear Coach Chris,

I am a skilled craftsman.  I have built, remodeled, renovated houses and businesses for 16 years.  I want to start a legitimate, successful business where I have binding contracts, a dedicated, skilled crew and I want the role of project manager/owner, not the primary laborer.

I am a hands-on manager and end up doing a lot of the labor even when I have a small crew to help me.  I am always afraid the project won’t be completed to my standards and want to control the results.  Most of my projects are done through a “gentleman’s” agreement.  I have to admit the financial agreement sometimes becomes a problem but overall I have a manageable income. Through the years I have established a good reputation for my work.

I don’t have a BIG picture plan for my current business.  I basically try to estimate the projects and most of the time I do profit but there have been times I complete a project at a loss because of some poor estimates and unforeseen issues.  It has been a struggle attracting and keeping quality craftsman because I cannot promise future projects.  It is difficult to estimate future projects and also be on the job site.

I fear if I change anything my current success will end.  I fear I will not find a dedicated, qualified skilled crew.  I fear there is so much to learn about the taxes, insurance, employee benefits, and all of what goes into owning a legitimate, successful business.  The thoughts overwhelm me and keep me stuck.  I begin each year with a plan but never pursue the next steps.  How do I move past my fears?

Cold Feet,


Dear Cold Feet Craftsman,

Congratulations for the current success of your “by the seat of your pants” business and I do agree it may not be sustainable long term.  Through 16 years I know you have learned, overcome and experienced many business situations and issues.  You can now utilize these skills along with your craftsman skills to add to your “legitimate” business.

Owning a successful, “legitimate” business has its challenges but there are many resources you can tap into to learn how to legitimize your business.

  1. Talk to other similar business owners.  They can sometimes share the lessons learned and possibly refer other resources.
  2. Make the time to sign up for business workshops.  Most of the workshops will provide information on how to market your business, the types of insurance your business should carry, interviewing and hiring advice, tax information, how to manage and track your project money.
  3. Consider hiring a bookkeeper or administrative assistant if this is not your strong point.

There are many facets to a business. The first and probably the most difficult is establishing yourself as a reliable, quality, skilled craftsman. Guess what?  You have already successfully achieved your reputation.  Your successful past experiences have given you a solid foundation for the next business level.

It is easy for me to say don’t let fear get in your way but consider this; Fear is usually based on stories we are telling ourselves and the more we become comfortable with our stories the harder it becomes to believe anything else.  We can falsely rationalize and bend the facts to fit our fear so we can validate what we believe.  So, revisit the story you are telling yourself and get down to business. You can design and build a house, you can design and build a successful business with the same attention to detail.

Happy Building,

Coach Chris