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Chapter 3
Men Are Cheaper Than Guns


Chapter 4
Intellectual Capital And Bootstrapping


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Thinking Like An Entrepreneur


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Fear In Business

  Many people who want to start and build a business fear accounting and simple financial decision making. Financial decision making involves math and Mathphobia is real. Many people are intimidated by numbers and calculations. When I taught physics as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, I often saw this fear of math in students. And people tend to avoid what they fear. Avoiding what we fear only strengthens the fear and makes us less prepared to deal with it in the future.

  Confront fear to lessen it. When we confront what we fear, our body kicks into a fear response that is a state of physical panic. It is exhausting. We cannot maintain the fear response for long. Our bodies simply cannot stay in an extremely heightened physical state for extended periods of time. So we cool down. We relax. This is the conventional way of overcoming phobias. Confront what we fear, and the fear often goes away in time.

  The best example is someone who fears heights. You walk across a bridge and look down and are nervous. Now, the bridge has a solid and high railing to prevent you from falling, so the fear is irrational. There is no real danger. If you walk to the edge and look down your heart will race faster. But, it can't keep beating more and more quickly forever. Eventually it settles down. And you are then calmer. Repeated exposure to fear lessens it.

  It works for heights. It works for public speaking. It works for overcoming most undesired fears.

  So if you fear financial decision making, you should approach learning it proactively. Take a college-level class in bookkeeping. Don't let the fear of numbers stop you from learning what you need to succeed in business. Also, your state government probably offers some free classes about going into business for yourself and the taxation issues.

  Here are some books to bolster your strength and knowledge. Minding Her Own Business by Jan Zobel. This is a book written to help teach women how to do their own business taxes. The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Course In Finance For Nonfinancial Managers by Robert A. Cooke is an excellent introduction to finance. Finally, there is my own Thinking Like An Entrepreneur.

  Force yourself to learn financial decision making and basic taxation issues if you are really intimidated by numbers and taxes but you really want to start a business. You need to know this if you are to succeed in building a business of your own.

  And, remember, as Albert Einstein said, it doesn't take a mathematician to do your taxes, it takes a philosopher.

  Another big fear of many is technology. It paralyzes them. Adults have what I call the "I don't want to break the VCR" fear. They are afraid they will push a trick button or combination thereof and the VCR will never work again. So they stay with the safe buttons. "Play," "Rewind," "Eject." Maybe "Pause" if they drink a lot of coffee. A few of us brave old folks even have mastered the intimidating little red "Record" button. But, by and large, they have no idea how to program their VCR to record that great John Wayne movie that is on at three in the morning.

  Children usually have no such fear of punching the wrong button. They madly punch away until they get bored. Because of this willingness to experiment with the VCR, they learn to program it to record all sorts of stuff. To learn technology, do not fear it. Play with it. Be a child. If you break it, it was a shitty VCR to begin with. You should demand your money back.

  Don't be afraid to play with your computer. Try things and learn how to be more efficient just by playing. Just never touch your Windows registry. That's like trying to lessen your fear of heights by walking across a two-by-four spanning the Mississippi River on a windy day.

  A friend who is a network administrator had a curious experience. He was called and this employee was sitting in shock in front of her computer. Absolutely terrified. Network man though maybe she received a death threat or something. She just sat there white as a sheet trembling.

  What was it that instilled this fear in the heart of an otherwise brave woman? She had received an e-mail attachment in .doc format. "What do I do?" she asked. Open it or delete it? It could be something important, but then again, it could be a malicious virus just waiting to do her computer in. He looked at her and said, "Do you feel lucky?"