Entrepreneurs: Don’t Be Afraid of Failure

Many women struggle with perfectionism. In pursuit of being perfect—or doing perfect work—we refuse to accept anything less. But, when it comes to owning your own business, failure is the antithesis of perfection. In fact, for entrepreneurs, the fear of failure can be a death blow to your career as it may not let you take chances, go out on a limb, and importantly, learn and grow from your mistakes.

So if you feel the fear of failure currently is holding you back from pursuing your dreams of owning your own business, here are a few strategies to help deal with the inevitable.

Don’t Let Small Setbacks Stop You

First, understand that you will have small setbacks along the way. No one who has experienced success has done so without failing here and there. The examples of success stories who endured repeated failures before achieving success are numerous.

As an entrepreneur, you are starting something new, which involves making decisions without the benefit of experience. You will not always make the right decision, and it will not feel good. Failure does not exist in anyone’s comfort zone. Our brains have automatic physiological responses to threats, whether real or perceived. Fight these instincts; Don’t let these setbacks eat away at your confidence.

Own Your Failures

In his article “Don’t Be a Hypocrite About Failure,” Justin Brady, host of The Creativity Cultivator podcast notes that it’s easy to say that we should embrace failure. But, actually failing is excruciating and not many are willing to own up to it. “If I’m successful at getting a prospective guest to recount a failure experience, they typically frame it as being the result of something beyond their control. Only a few have admitted they did something stupid and learned from it.”

It’s important to recognize failure for what it is—a learning experience. We often learn more important lessons from failure than we do from success.

The expression, “action becomes habit” is true. When you get jolted out of your comfort zone, it can lead to important soul searching and personal growth. It also makes the next misstep less painful. The setback after that is even less painful. Confidence comes from practice.

Reframe Failure

In The Startup Playbook, Sara Blakely, founder of women’s undergarment company Spanx, says her father reframed her view of failure:

“When I was growing up, my dad would encourage my brothers and me to fail. We would be sitting at the dinner table and he would ask, ‘So, what did you guys fail at this week?’ If we didn’t have something to contribute, he would be disappointed. When I did fail at something, he’d high-five me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that he was completely reframing my definition of failure at a young age. To me, failure means not trying, failure isn’t the outcome. If I have to look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I didn’t try that because I was scared,’ that is a failure.”

Obstacles and setbacks are inevitable for all entrepreneurs. But being resilient and having a no-quit attitude will go far toward accomplishing your goals. Becoming an entrepreneur is tough, and certainly isn’t the right career choice for everyone. But those who are willing to set perfectionism aside and not be afraid to face failure head-on will be on the right path to achieving their professional goals.