Everyone who wants to start a business has to face some familiar fears – will the business succeed? Will I make enough money to cover my bills? Will my family’s standard of living suffer as a result of this decision? Can I afford to take the risk of starting a business and becoming a full-time entrepreneur?

Sometimes people who want to start a business feel that it is too risky compared to the tried-and-true experience of having a job at a big company. If you’ve always had a steady paycheck and benefits and paid time off, it can be tough to give that up for the uncertainties of self-employment.

If you’re deciding to start a business in 2012, here is a bit of inspiration for you – America has always been full of uncertainty and change. We happen to be living in times that are more uncertain and full of change than ever before. But that doesn’t have to be a cause for stress and anxiety – in fact, if you look at how much America’s economy has changed in the past 100 years, we can take heart in knowing that millions of Americans have navigated big changes for many years, and so can we.

One of the biggest transitions that America made during the 20th Century was changing from a largely agricultural economy to a manufacturing and then service-based economy. 100 years ago, during the years 1900-1920, agriculture and mining made up 30-40% of the U.S. workforce – millions of people used to make a living in America from working on farms and in mines, and over time, most of those jobs went away. Then people who used to be farmers went to work in factories on assembly lines, and gradually over several decades, those jobs got replaced by technology and people had to find something else to do for a living.

These economic transitions are not without difficulty. Many people have struggled and suffered at each stage of these economic transitions, and a lot of people are struggling in today’s era of high unemployment – but for the most part, even with all the turmoil along the way, Americans have achieved a better standard of living than ever before. We’ve always found a way to keep innovating and creating new jobs to replace the jobs that are lost.

Instead of working on farms and in mines (which tend to involve hard physical labor and are often dangerous and dirty jobs), people have gradually found new, better, safer, cleaner ways to make a living. Living standards have grown even as the world changed dramatically. As American entrepreneurs created new technologies, workers created new ways of adding value and being productive.

Just as America created a new economy to replace the old agricultural economy, in the same way, the jobs of the future are still being created. The jobs that our children will do in 20 years do not yet exist today – there will be new industries, new technologies, and new ways of making a living.

If you decide to start a business, whether it grows to be a big business or just stays as a “company of one,” you are part of this process of innovating and finding better ways to work and earn a living.

Don’t let fear or worry or risk-aversion hold you back from following your business dream. If you have a good business plan, a strong sense of motivation, and an unrelenting will to get things done, chances are you can find a way to succeed on your own terms.