This is not one of those articles about Five Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Failure, or How to Live the Life of Your Dreams. There is plenty of advice out there on this topic already. The aim of writing this article is to let you know that it’s ok to be afraid of failing. And that you’re not alone.
I was a high achiever for most of my youth. I always tackled each task with everything I had. After my children reached school age I often dreamed of starting my own business. But something held me back.
That something would be … my overwhelming fear of failure!
Where did this come from? After reading a thought-provoking book written by a start-up entrepreneur, I wrote down some possible reasons why this fear had surfaced. This is what I came up with.
- Perfectionism – not wanting to release something into the world unless it was absolutely faultless.
- Lack of confidence – ten years out of the workforce whilst raising children meant that I felt like I was out of touch.
- Not wanting to feel rejected – failure would feel like a personal rebuke. This was something I was not willing to subject myself to.
- Risk adverse nature – I didn’t want to feel like I had invested time and money into something that potentially may not succeed.
Having this fear and starting a business doesn’t necessarily go well together, but I have managed to do it! I have come up with three practical things I implemented to help me put the fear aside and give me the courage to start my own business. This is not a blanket solution for everyone, and you should always seek professional help if your fears are overwhelming.
1. I spent time planning but gave myself a deadline
To address my risk adverse nature, I needed to feel like I had a plan (I also love a procedure and policy, so this was perfect for me). I spent time crafting a thorough business plan, together with a content strategy. Procrastination is one of the symptoms of fear of failure, so to ensure that I didn’t spend the next two years planning, I gave myself a deadline. Then stuck to it.
2. I set small goals
To further combat the procrastination, I built small goals into the planning process that also had deadlines for completion. This help me feel as though I was in control and constantly achieving.
3. Change my perception of failure
This was a tough one for me. To me, failure in business is represented by not making any money. After speaking with a friend about my reservations, she gave me a great piece of advice. If I didn’t make any money, what could I learn from it? It didn’t mean that I was so hopeless that I could never run my own business. It would give me the opportunity to work out another, better way of approaching it. Not succeeding is not the same thing as failing.
Regret is far worse than failure. I didn’t want to be 80 years old and wondering how my life would have been different if only I had the courage to start my own business. Today I have no regrets. Here I am, writing this article and continuing to overcome the many facets of my fear of failure!
I encourage you to find ways to break through your walls of fear – whatever they may be – to enable you to realise your dreams and keep moving forward with your business.
Do you have a favourite strategy for getting past that fear of failure? I’d love you to share it in the comments below.