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Why do so many projects, enterprises and businesses fail to get beyond the initial idea phase? Fear.

Taking the big leap to set up a project or social enterprise can feel very scary because, let’s face it, there is no guarantee that the risks will pay off. But if you procrastinate, or worse – fail to even try, you can be sure that your big idea will never flourish, unless of course somebody else does it first. You might even be left feeling unfulfilled, wondering…what if? What if it had worked, what if I was using my unique gifts and contributing to society in a meaningful way and making an income doing what I love?

We get it. Fear is a natural feeling that affects everyone from world famous moguls to Saturday market traders; all pioneers suffer it and must overcome it, if they are to succeed. But what sorts of fears specifically hold entrepreneurs back? Fear of failure, fear of leaving a stable job, fear of the unknown, fear of what others may think of them, fear of incompetence or not being able to access the right knowledge? This will be different for everyone, but as Henry Ford once said: “One of the greatest discoveries a man (or woman) can make is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do”.

Sometimes the only way to overcome fear is to feel it, go through it, and just do whatever it is that you are afraid of, despite your hesitations. But there are some steps you can take that will help you specifically to push through the fears of starting a social enterprise, and here are our top five:

1. Know your WHY; your social purpose

What change do you desperately want to see in the world? What puts the fire in your belly to run with your vision? If you are passionate enough about your idea, others will catch your vision and they will be more likely to get behind it and support you. In turn, this will fuel your confidence and motivation when doubts creep in. You can read more about discovering your social purpose in our blog here >

2. Do your market research

Discover your unique selling point (USP) by working out what the gaps or needs are in the marketplace, and how you can provide solutions to them with your products or services. Feeling confident that your offering meets a need, will help you know that you have a strong proposition, which will dissolve any fear around your idea not being ‘good enough’.

3. Write a compelling business plan

This will help you overcome any fears that your idea is too complicated because it will provide you with a clear action plan, which will be your road map to success. A good business plan will also help you when you are pitching your idea to funders and social investors, who will want to know that you have a well thought out plan. We will help you create a business plan on the Accelerating Women’s Enterprise (AWE) Making a Difference programme. If you are a woman living in Devon or Cornwall, you can sign up here >.

4. Find a supportive mentor who has gone before you

Working with a supportive mentor who has achieved something similar to what you want to do can be life-changing. You can learn from their experiences and use their wisdom to avoid the common pitfalls, improving your business knowledge and saving you time. The benefits of being able to share concerns and bounce ideas around with someone who has run a similar race is invaluable. On successful completion of the AWE Making a Difference programme, we are able to connect you with a mentor who will support you through the process of putting your learning into action.

5. Network and practice pitching your ideas to fellow entrepreneurs

Being able to connect with others who are on a similar journey to you will add to your confidence, increase your resources and enable you to practice explaining your idea in a compelling way to others, inspiring you to keep going.

Becoming an entrepreneur is all about taking calculated risks and overcoming fear, but in so doing, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of a triumph you may never have even dared to dream of.

On the AWE Making a Difference programme, we want you to be able to enjoy testing out your initial ideas in a safe environment, whilst being able to access the right knowledge and support to ensure a successful start. If you are a woman living in Devon or Cornwall and you are interested in finding out more, please email

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