Fear of Failure

Business Closing (CC) Leslie Feinburg on Flickr

Business Closing (CC) Leslie Feinburg on Flickr

You would love to start a business but the idea of failure just seems so scary.

Those words and fears are common among many aspiring business owners. The desire is there, maybe even the idea, and, at times, all of the pieces and planning. The only thing missing is starting. So how can you get past this barrier?

The first thing to remember is to acknowledge it exists. We all feel failure. One author, Kevin McCarthy wrote, “Fear of failure or success is one and the same. Both are fear of exposure. Not of our strengths, but of our weaknesses.” Aspiring owners are afraid of losing money and the time it will cost them if the business does not succeed.

And this fear is real. Although the numbers vary, between 50 to 80 percent of businesses will not be there in five years.

But stop right there. Let’s understand what that number means. Many of these business terminations occur but no one, except the owner and perhaps family and friends, are owed any money. It is a business that just didn’t work out. Business owners saw a better opportunity and either transitioned the business into something else or just closed the first one and opened another. In view of all the businesses that start, only a few close via bankruptcy in the grand scheme of things. Businesses close for lots of reasons. This is the second thing to remember, understand why businesses close.

The third thing to remember is okay, it happens and is just part of the learning process. As Edison said, “I never failed once. It just happened to be a 200l-step process.” Or the words of General Colin Powell, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.” Entrepreneurs fail. Think of Sam Walton or Henry Ford. Ford recognized this when he wrote, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

So don’t let the fear of failure be your excuse. It isn’t a given that you will fail. Many businesses plan, work hard, adjust when needed and end up being a success. Perhaps the words that inspire so many aspiring and existing entrepreneurs are those of William Feather, “No man is a failure who is enjoying life.”


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