Overcoming Fear and Failure: Lessons Learned from Successful Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship appeals to forward-thinking minds capable of strategically balancing risk and rewards. Any kind of business venture regardless of the industry comes with some associated risks of failure.
However, would it really be logical to pass on lucrative opportunities to grow your business for the fear of failure? Here comes the time for overcoming fear to take your business to new heights. Successful entrepreneurs didn’t succeed by avoiding challenges – they had to take risks and overcome them too. In the entrepreneurial world, there’s no reward without risk.
Fear in entrepreneurial ventures – is it normal?
Let’s get one thing straight – there’s nothing wrong with feeling fear over a potential risk, especially one that can be disastrous for your business. Fear is a natural emotion and has its own roles to play. It’s fear that encourages entrepreneurs to seek the support of mentors when needed. It’s fear that pushes you to work harder and devise new solutions.
It’s rather normal feel afraid to invest your hard-earned money into your venture or start an ambitious or innovative project. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have experienced the fear of:
- Making mistakes
- Letting people down
- The unknown
However, an entrepreneur consumed by fear would be too unwilling to invest in new ventures that can help the business grow. It’s through a balance of risk and security that successful entrepreneurs achieved what they did.
10 tips from successful entrepreneurs on overcoming fear and failure
1. Don’t let failure define you
To succeed as an entrepreneur, keep in mind that you’re the one who defines failure – not the other way around. Failures are a part of your entrepreneurial journey, but don’t let them define you. Most importantly, it is you who decides whether it’s a failure of your venture or just a learning experience.
Entrepreneurs with a positive and learning mindset go with the latter. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t repeat them moving forward.
2. Consider all possibilities
It’s only normal to be afraid of the unknown when you don’t know what outcome your decision will bear. The easiest solution to overcoming fear of the unknown is to consider all possible negative outcomes and think of the respective solutions.
Imagine the worst-case scenario and decide how you’d respond to it. We aren’t advising you to be pessimistic, but it’s best to stay prepared for the worst. Once you’ve decided how you’ll counter the negative outcome, it naturally rules out fear of the unknown.
3. Practice patience and restraint
Don’t let fear rush you into making hasty decisions. Remember, whether it is a regional market or a cross border e-commerce platform, successful entrepreneurs run their ventures with patience. Practicing restraint and putting adequate thought into your business decisions is the key to overcoming failure in entrepreneurship. For instance, don’t panic and abandon your new venture at the first signs of problems – learn to face them. If you’re starting a side hustle alongside your main business, don’t leave the latter just yet unless you have to.
4. Seek counsel and information
Do not hesitate to seek the support and counsel of those who might be able to help. Successful entrepreneurs are often known to build a network of mentors who guide them in overcoming failure and making the right decisions. Formal and informal education on different topics can be of great help too. As they say, it’s never too late to learn.
The concept is rather simple. The more you understand what you’re dealing with and how to go about it, the less fear it would cause. You can’t really be confident about growing your venture unless you know you’re on the right path.
5. Emotionally disconnect from your business
Another way of overcoming fear as an entrepreneur is to disconnect emotionally from your business. Does this mean you shouldn’t have any passion for your new venture? Not at all. You simply have to delineate your business from your personal life. Don’t build your identity on your success or failure in business. This will help get rid of the fear of letting others down.
6. Don’t worry about how others will perceive your failure
You may or may not have noticed this, but there’s one commonality among most successful entrepreneurs – people tend to remember only their successes. They’ve encountered failures too, but people rarely know or remember those. It’s your success that gets the most attention, while failures are mostly forgotten unless there’s something particularly memorable about them.
The point is, we worry too much about how our failures will be perceived by others. On your path to overcoming fear, you must remember one thing – we are the main characters only in our own lives, not in others’. People would notice your failure, but it likely won’t draw as much attention as you fear.
7. Think if you’ll regret not doing something
As odd as it might seem, most successful entrepreneurs report that their biggest regrets are for things they didn’t do, as opposed to things they did. When you feel hesitant to do something (like investing in a new project, or including latest trends) because you’re afraid of things going south, think about it from a future perspective.
Put yourself ten years ahead, look back at your journey so far, and see if you regret not investing in the project. This will help alleviate your fears and allow you to work on the project with greater confidence.
8. Accept fear and failure as normal
Acceptance is the key to overcoming failure and fear. Don’t think of fear as something unnatural, something you cannot control. It’s just a human emotion, and it’s perfectly normal. Acknowledging and accepting your fears will help you deal with them better and avoid getting overwhelmed.
The same goes for failure too – you must accept your failures to overcome them and move forward. It’s a part of life, and you need to understand that you may fail again in the future. Unless you learn to accept your failures, how can you learn from them?
Failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of success.
9. Stop comparing yourself to others
This might sound like an overused piece of advice, but there’s a reason why it’s so popular. Overcoming the fear of failure is hard when you keep deciding on your failures and successes by comparing yourself against others. Everyone has their respective set of strengths and weaknesses.
There’s no point in bringing yourself disappointment by comparing against others on your weaknesses. Instead, set reasonable goals and work towards achieving them. Even if you succeed only partially, that’s still success to some extent.
10. Stay determined
Determination is crucial to overcoming fear, especially when things don’t go as planned. Running a business isn’t a smooth and trouble-free journey – it’s more of a rollercoaster ride with good times and bad times. Develop grit and face your challenges, taking on them with the determination to succeed. Overcoming failure wouldn’t be possible unless you remain fixated on your goals and don’t give in.
With that said, you shouldn’t be arrogant in the face of risks and challenges either. You need to face them, but you must do so in a level-headed manner. Bold decisions are necessary for business, but that doesn’t mean you need to ignore the bad signs.
Three ways in which fear helps entrepreneurs
Now that we’ve explored the ways to overcome fear as an entrepreneur, you might want to note that fear isn’t entirely a bad thing. There’s a reason why a negative emotion like fear exists – it’s necessary for our survival. From the entrepreneurial perspective, fear helps your business avoid disastrous outcomes. Here are 3 ways in which fear is helpful to entrepreneurs.
1. Constant optimizations
Fear encourages entrepreneurs to actively seek out flaws in their business model and fix them. This helps weed out the problems before they cause your business heavy losses. Concerns over projects and ideas drive entrepreneurs to make the necessary changes. In other words, fear would force you to take a proactive approach to problem-solving.
2. Seeking mentorship
As we mentioned earlier, successful entrepreneurs seek the support of mentorship of experienced individuals as and when needed. It’s the fear of failure that drives them to seek help from others and learn more to make the right decisions. Fear is actually quite a helpful incentive in this regard.
3. Increased commitment
For a determined entrepreneur, fear would act as a driving force to increase commitment towards to goal. When you fear what might happen if you fail, you’d work hard to avoid it at all costs. This, in turn, helps towards overcoming failure.
To sum up, fear can both motivate and inhibit you from reaching your goals as an entrepreneur. It’s up to you to strike a balance in your risk-management strategy, knowing when to take a risk and when to steer clear of it. However, unless you learn to face and overcome your fears, there’s no way your business can reach new heights.
When faced with a challenge keep a calm head and think of how to work your way through it. You may ask your mentors for help and learn new skills if needed. Most importantly, you must have faith in your ideas and stay determined to achieve the goal.