Fashion Business Musings: Are You Scared of Success?

Dear Designers,

Success means change.

And change can often be scary.

Therefore, reaching success can be scary. With it comes responsibility, showing up, vulnerability…. the list goes on. And this is outside of many of our comfort zones.

When you’re successful, you head into a world that you are not familiar with– one of money, influence, reach, impact, pressure, expectations, and business sustainability.

And to top it off, when we think about or anticipate success, we don’t fully understand how things will change for us exactly. It’s different for everyone, which makes it even scarier.

But the one common thread that we all experience as we become successful, is change.

Let’s take the money bit to start. There’s a fear around making money that many people have, even if they don’t realize it. I know that seems counter-intuitive but it’s very, very common. So many of us have money blocks about being deserving of money. I know that was an issue for me. If you grew up in any way conscious of money and budget, there can be certain beliefs you hold about frugality vs. spending, as well as making “enough” vs. having too much. It’s weird and uncomfortable, and often creates an unconscious, and unfortunate, fear about success.  It’s sometimes hard to get yourself to a point where you believe that you deserve to make that money.

Then there’s the added pressure and the expectations that come along with success. When you’re successful, you’re often responsible for other people. You’re expected to perform and you’re expected to be able to pay those salaries, and create that product, and run that business. And what if you don’t know how?  There’s often a question in our minds about whether we can sustain that level of success. What if as you become successful, you are not able to continue that growth and success? This is something that many entrepreneurs fear and it can have a big impact on our willingness to go after growth.

The new reach, impact, and influence that we start to see as our businesses grow can be incredibly intimidating.  We think, “Who am I to say these things? Why does anyone care about my opinion?” The fact is, success will bring with it a tribe of people who are looking to you for answers, guidance, information, or even just entertainment. And the pressure to supply those things is challenging. In particular if, like me, you’re in introvert. As someone who doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, the idea of  inevitable influence can be enough to sabotage your progress.

You may be saying, “Hell No. I don’t do this.” (I polled the StartUp FASHION Instagram followers yesterday and 20% of you said “Nope, I’m not scared of success.”) And perhaps that’s true. But for those of you who are, and maybe some of you who don’t think you are, I challenge you to reflect on some of the hurdles you’ve faced so far in your business.

When we say things like…

  • I just want to make enough money to live. I don’t need to make millions.
  • I’m not going to spend money on that, too indulgent. Must be nice to have money.
  • I tried. Oh, well. Next time I’ll create more realistic goals.
  • I’m a perfectionist, that’s why this hasn’t gotten done yet.

…There’s a good possibility that you are actually battling a fear of success.

These things are often excuses that we work up in our minds because we’re scared to succeed.

It’s OK. It’s common. And while there really isn’t one single way to flat out stop this, the first step is just recognizing when it’s happening.

Sit with yourself and think about why that project didn’t get done or why you haven’t launched that marketing idea or what your true feelings are around money.  Be honest with yourself when you haven’t yet reached a goal you’ve set– did you try your hardest or did you maybe unknowingly not give it your all for fear of what that would mean? — how it would get the ball rolling and what you’d be responsible for next.

Look, we all have projects that didn’t work and ideas that didn’t pan out. I’m not suggesting that every time those things happen, it’s a clear indication that you’re scared to succeed. I’m simply suggesting that it could be, some of the time.

So the more you are aware that this is actually a thing, the better equipped you’ll be to recognize when it’s happening and make some changes in your mindset to push past it. OK?

Lots of love and encouragement,

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StartUp FASHION is an online community where independent designers and emerging brands are coming together, helping one another, forming friendships, collaborating, letting off steam, sharing victories, and belonging to a network of people who get it; who are doing it too. We’re a place to access and discover the tools and information you need to build your fashion business. We help you define your path and give you the guidance, encouragement, and resources to follow that path.