Have you been dreaming of starting your own business or launching your own personal brand? Who can blame you? With your own business you can:
- Be your own boss
- Work when you want, where you want
- Do work that you’re passionate about
However, I know that there’s a lot that can hold you back from trying—especially the fear of failure. To be fair, these fears aren’t unfounded. The main reason people do not follow their dreams and start their own business is the fear of failure.
Statistics back up that fear, with reports that a high percentage of small businesses fail within a couple of years of starting. However, the trick to getting started is to not let those feelings paralyze you and keep you from taking action.
The only way to truly overcome a fear is to face it. You must decide to take action in spite of your fear, and learn to think of failure in a new light. Failure does not have to be something negative, but rather something that is just one step toward being a success.
Every entrepreneur has had their own brush (or brushes) with failure, but it is the fact that they were able to overcome this failure and keep on striving for their goals that lead them to success. In fact, when asked in an interview how he faces failure Gary Vaynerchuk replied:
“I dig in…change strategy…accept accountability…and go all the fuck in…”
In this article, I’m going to show you how you can overcome your fear of failure and learn from it instead. Instead of talking about how to avoid failure, I’ll be teaching you how you can use it to your advantage and help you to build your business and achieve your dreams.
8 Strategies to Overcome Your Fear of Failure
Overcoming your fear of failure is all about readjusting your attitude and being flexible. Gary Vaynerchuk also has a helpful way of handling failure by categorizing it into two categories: macro and micro. Micro failures are obstacles like losing a client, losing money on an investment, etc while macros failures are things like filing for Chapter 11, death, etc.
Micro failures can be corrected by making adjustments. Many entrepreneurs fail because they do not separate the two and don’t recognize which failures should be no more than a setback.
I’ve found it helpful to face my own fears of failure by keeping Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice in mind, and using the following strategies to overcome by micro failures:
1) Re-think Failure
Too many people perceive failure as the end, when at most it should be thought of as a temporary road block. To overcome your fear, you need to stop viewing failure as something that is negative.
Every successful entrepreneur today has failed at business, some several times over. If they had let that stop them they would not be where they are today. Instead of fearing failure, learn to expect it as a part of the process of establishing your business.
The bottom line is failure is not the opposite of success, but is a part of success. It is not something to be feared, but something to be anticipated and something to be learned from.
2) Stay Focused on You
Sometimes when you’re fixated on success, you can get distracted by seeing others around you achieve. In turn, this may increase your own anxieties around failure or your perceived lack of success. This attitude is only holding you back.
Admire the success of others, but don’t envy them. Respect the results that other entrepreneurs are able to create, but focus your attention on the results that you want to create. Be unique and build your business on that individualism.
3) Face Your Fear
If you let fear stop you from striving for your goals, then you have already failed. Face your fear head on. Successful entrepreneurs have learned to use fear as a motivator to keep moving forward.
To be successful you must be willing to step outside of your comfort zone, or else nothing worthwhile will be achieved. Trying and failing and getting back up again is better than never trying at all, especially when it comes to living out your dreams and building a business that you can be proud of.
4) Opportunities, Not Set-Backs
Again, overcoming fear is all about adjusting your attitude about what failure means. Learn to perceive every problem as an opportunity to create a solution, to fill an unfilled need. If something in your plan fails, that means it needs to be tweaked. Think of it as troubleshooting—you need to first find the problem in order to fix it.
To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must learn to embrace problems, but not focus on them. Accept that you failed, found out what went wrong, fix it, and then move forward. Once you’ve done this, you can feel confident that you’re one step closer to determining what works and what will help your business be a success.
5) Look Ahead
Every successful entrepreneur needs to have a plan. Of course, your plan may not follow the smoothes path, but you need to remain focused on the possibilities of the future and not so much the challenges of the present.
Expect setbacks and obstacles and know that overcoming them are the price you must pay to succeed. Dwelling on these setbacks will do you no good—keep looking ahead to how you can achieve your goals and adjust your plan accordingly.
6) Stay Positive, But Be Proactive
As I’ve said, adjusting your attitude is essential. However, having a positive attitude will not save a failing business. It is important to acknowledge market conditions for your business and face certain facts that may not be ideal.
Stay positive, but be smart. Do your research and adjust as the market demands, then keep grinding on. Nothing will be accomplished without hard work, and sometimes that means acknowledging when you don’t have the expertise you need. Invest in yourself by continuing to educate yourself—whether that means enrolling in an online course, going to conferences, or finding a mentor.
7) Be Realistic
Being an entrepreneur and starting your own business is no easy feat—if it were, less people would fail. You will be able to better manage your failures if you make sure you don’t get too overwhelming in the process.
Set small goals in the beginning. For many start-up entrepreneurs, it is better to begin with smaller goals—goals such as setting up your website, launching a crowdfunding campaign, or acquiring your first customer.
Once you’ve achieved these smaller goals you can then building on those successes. By consistently achieving positive results on a smaller scale, you build momentum. That momentum is what will help to create the larger successes later.
8) Roll With the Punches
Too many entrepreneurs become paralyzed after facing their first failure in business. If you want to move forward and become a success, then you need to learn to let go of failure. Do not look back, but always look forward.
Part of rolling with the punches also means you need to be able to acknowledge when something has failed. Don’t spend your time and energy trying to make something work that just isn’t going to happen—learn to recognize when you need to move on from something to make way for something better.
The true sign of a successful business owner is being able to face failures and learn from them. Failure is inevitable—the challenge is not to try to avoid failure, but to be able to face it head on and learn from it, and have your business come out the stronger for your failures.
If you’re ready to overcome your fear and start growing your business, then remember to start small, set goals, and build on small successes. When you do encounter failure, look to the new opportunities it presents to improve your business.
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