When I was growing up there was always one person the bullies never picked on in the playground. It wasn’t because that person was the strongest or the most accomplished fighter but because he was the onw who never gave up. So, even when they were defeated in one fight, that person was known to start another fight with the same person 5 hours later in a different location. This person was known to have fought the same person 5-8 times until the stronger one caved in and begged them to stop. That person won the war, not because they were good but because they were tenacious. Even kids that were much stronger begged that person to leave them alone and never fought with them.
That is the way we should approach having a successful business. The industry must come to realise that you will never give up or cave in and that every failure will spur you on to try harder. When that kind of winning spirit is established, the earth will yield to anyone the success they deserve!
Top of the list of most common hindrances to starting a business is the fear of failure! Sometimes this fear is disguised by logical excuses like:
“I am waiting for an upturn in the economy”
“I will start in the summer -I hear the winter months are not a great time to start a business”
“I am just waiting until I feel it is the right time”
“I will start but there are just too many things going on right now”
“When the children grow up then we can take such a risk”
The above list is not exhaustive. The real issue is that such people are afraid the business may fail and they could lose money or worst still, what would people say!?
Someone put it this way: nobody likes failure because like fertilizers, they stink. But when applied correctly, it is the key to making the soil germinate and produce the best possible crops. One of the major differences between those starting their businesses and those who are still waiting and hoping it will happen one day is that starters have learnt to manage the fear that accompanies every start up stage.
It is interesting to note that whether it is starting for the first time, launching a new product or starting a new marketing campaign, fear is always present like a faithful brother! So in reality, no matter what stage of the business process you are, some sort of fear will be there to accompany you. The real question therefore is not whether you feel the fear but the real issue is how you use that fear as a spring board to success.
So here are a few nuggets to bear in mind:
- Failure will help you succeed. To explain what I mean, I want to borrow a popular quote by Jack Canfield who said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” The reality of the matter is this: Unless you fail, your chances of success are extremely limited. Bill Gates said “success is a lousy teacher!” That is so true because companies like Kodak and Swiss Watches teach us how quickly a business can lose their winning edge if they lack the much need innovation and product releases.This also goes for the individual who is playing it safe by staying in a job they know is not their burning desire. In the end they would have wasted valuable time that could have been applied into a much more fulfilling life of starting their own business.
- Failure will help you stay alert. I always consider the usefulness of having the possibility of failing as the real impetuous to make success happen quicker. When there is a tendency to fail or not fully achieve an objective, you become more alert and focused. This mindset can be applied into running your business venture too. Rather than being paralysed with fear, turn that negative energy into a positive momentum for progress. You do that by being alert, carrying out the necessary tasks and reducing the risks through appropriate research.
- Failure is the way of removing the dust and exposing the diamond in you. What is interesting is that unless you fail in some sense all the bad/wrong/obsolete ideas will still remain in your head and you still think they will work in the manner you envisage them simply because you have not exposed them to the realities of the true market.“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates
It is true that many would be business start ups have great ideas and I think some of those ideas will change our way of life but also there are methods conceived in people’s minds that will not work. The way to get rid of those or modify them into a workable successful system is by using them. Those who fail to use them would not realise they are harbouring unworkable ideas. Also, they limit the chance of getting the good ideas if they fail by not practicing – getting out there and making it work.
- Failure teaches you how to win. Many who know of one of the greatest boxers that ever lived – Mohammed Ali – love him because of his flamboyance, confidence, good looks and eloquent speeches. But equally to be admired was his tenacity to bounce back after defeat. As Trump has said: “Sometimes by losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war.”
How Do You Ensure Fear of Failure Never Keeps You from Starting In Business?
- Fear is normal. One of the strongest negative thoughts that go around in people’s heads is that “If you are afraid to start, it is because you are no good in business because the real business people are never afraid”. That statement is utter nonsense! I cannot imagine anyone in business not having some element of fear or anxiety in the beginning and at strategic points. The difference is that, whatever challenge the seasoned entrepreneur has, he/she knows that there must be a solution lurking in the corner somewhere and so are automatically able to manage the effects of the fear! Understanding that fear is normal puts you in the category of the success and not that of the failures. Simply put: You Are Not A Failure You Are A Success – if you manage the fear that comes to your mind!
- Analyse what you are afraid of and why you are afraid. Sometimes people fear because they lack understanding of the exact steps to take to establish the business or fear of quitting a job and committing fully to the process of starting a new venture. Maybe some are fearful because their friend or an associate started a business that recently failed. Whatever the fear it must be fully analysed.
- Work out steps that will mitigate the fear: Once you have carefully analysed the source of the fear, the next step is to determine how to mitigate that fear by setting up appropriate actions to bring it under control, reduce its negative effect and even convert/redirect it into positive energy. Like in point 2 above, if we assume someone is fearful because they had a trusted friend whose business recently failed, what should be done? One useful solution is to find out what caused that particular failure, what the person learnt from it and what you will do if the pattern occurred within your own business. Such understanding is immensely powerful and capable of providing the enlightenment necessary to transform fear to a positive/useful energy!
- Just start with ‘baby steps’. I once heard a statement by the famous motivation speaker Brian Tracy who asked “How do you eat an elephant?”. He answered himself saying “…one small piece at a time”. We can relate that to a business and ask ‘How do you start a high performance business?’ By doing it one small piece at a time. Refuse to allow yourself to get swamped with the enormity of the set up tasks. When you need to write a business plan, slice it down to small bits. Think of what to research first, spread the work over weeks and months. Start small, take baby steps and you will overcome the fear of starting.
- Get a pen and paper. Find a quiet place to think.
- Write down all the aspects of starting a business that produces fear.
- Write down worst case scenarios if your business should fail.
- Write down what you will do to mitigate them or solutions if they do happen.
- Are you getting a clearer picture? Most of what you think will never happen and the ones that do happen; you will have a solution for it.