"It's like, how does anyone start their own business? How is it even possible? How do they deal with the crippling fear and harsh economic realities?"
Some people believe that if you have a good job, you shouldn't start your own gig, because it's foolish to give up a job you can't easily replace.
And some people believe that if you don't have a great job, it's foolish to waste time (and the money you can ill afford to lose) starting something when you'd be a lot better off getting a great job or going to school until you do.
And both groups are missing the point.
The people who successfully start independent businesses (franchises, I think are a different thing) do it because we have no real choice in the matter. The voice in our heads won't shut up until we discover if we're right, if we can do it, if we can make something happen. This is an art, our art, and to leave it bottled up is a crime.
I guess the real question, JK, is, "How can you not do it?"