Ghosts, ghouls and goblins—oh my! While children clad in Halloween costumes may fear witches and zombies, many entrepreneurs are equally terrified of failure. But since failure is an inevitable part of launching and growing a small business, fear of failure could be holding you and your business back from success. Whether your business is already underway or just getting started, here are six ways to overcome your fear of failure:
- Go step by step. When we’re scared, it’s easy for fear of failure to paralyze us and we end up doing nothing. Instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach, break down what scares you into small, manageable parts. For example, if you’re afraid to approach potential investors for financing because they might say no, break it down into smaller tasks: researching potential investors, making a list of the most promising possibilities, finding connections on social media to introduce you, developing your pitch and so on. Going step-by-step, you’re more likely to succeed, and each success will build your confidence.
- Do things right. Failure often occurs when we’re in a hurry and take shortcuts. In your excitement to launch your business or your next big idea, it’s tempting to skip the boring stuff and jump straight to the fun part. However, paying attention to foundational elements such as writing a business plan, choosing the right legal structure for your business, trademarking your business name and getting a business license can greatly increase your odds for success.
- Get help. You’re less likely to fail if you get advice from more experienced business people, professionals and mentors who have “been there, done that.” They can help you foresee possible problems and figure out how to surmount potential hurdles. Perhaps even more importantly, they can build your confidence by providing encouragement and support. SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are two great, free sources of business advice and expertise.
- Celebrate your successes. It’s human nature to be critical of ourselves and focus on everything we’ve done wrong. Unfortunately, this can lead to a crippling fear of failure. Instead, focus on all the things you do right. Take some time to write down risks that you’ve taken—not just in business, but also in your personal life—and the successes you’ve enjoyed as a result. Giving yourself credit for all the good things you’ve done will build your ability to take on challenges with less fear.
- Do what scares you. Did you notice I said “less fear” in the prior paragraph, rather than “fearlessly”? No one is fearless, no matter how they may look on the outside. True courage means doing what scares us in spite of our fear. Really, the only way to overcome fear of failure is to try new things, knowing full well that you might fail—and that’s OK.
- Learn from your failures. No matter how hard we try, we’re bound to experience failure, especially when undertaking something as challenging as starting and growing a business. Make failure your friend by learning from it. Step back and assess exactly what happened, why it happened, and what you can do differently next time to prevent it from happening again. The more you learn from your failures, the less likely you are to repeat them.