In the News

Taking the plunge: How to cope with a fear of failure

Do you have a great business idea but are afraid to take the plunge into entrepreneurship? You’re not alone. According to a 2012 study from Babson College, fear of failure is a top concern for all entrepreneurs, but it’s especially prominent for women entrepreneurs.

The study also found that women were more likely to have lower perceptions of their entrepreneurial abilities than male business owners. Despite these findings, women entrepreneurship is flourishing in the United States, suggesting that the fear of failure doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks.  

So how can you get over the hump? Here are three suggestions.  

Don’t be a perfectionist

Being a business owner isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. There are some bad days, and you probably won’t get everything right. Realizing that will go a long way toward taking the leap into business ownership.

The fear of getting things wrong can hold you back and gives you an excuse not to accomplish your goals. As long as you keep your end goal in sight, you can weather the bad times. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. When you inevitably do take a wrong step, use it as a learning experience, which takes us to our next point…

Use fear to learn

The Harvard Business Review said it best: “Learning is a powerful antidote to fear of failure, helping to mitigate one’s doubts by increasing one’s capabilities.”

If you are afraid of jumping into a business problem or going out on your own, ask yourself why. Is it because you have a great product but aren’t a financial guru? Or are you afraid of being in charge of yourself? Use fear to motivate your learning. Research accounting basics, ask your financial wiz of a friend or look for consulting companies to take the work off your shoulders.

Fear can also lead you to look introspectively at your potential business or idea. What can you improve? How can you get to your goal? Use fear to create a roadmap to move forward. Don’t let it paralyze you.

Find support

Every business owner — even the most successful ones — has dealt with the fear of failure. And most of them are wiling to tell their story. Central Iowa has great resources for connecting with other women business owners. NAWBO Iowa, of course, is a great organization.

You can also tap into state resources like the Small Business Administration Development Centers. The Iowa Center for Economic Success is an amazing resource as well, especially its Women’s Business Center.

Connect and be inspired by other women entrepreneurs. Perhaps that will be the spark you need to start something of your own.