Is your fear of failure holding you back?

By Helen Lindop

One of the biggest challenges in business, especially when you are just starting up, can be overcoming your own fears. As part of our series on ‘Beating Your Business Fears’, Helen Lindop, one of our Sage Business Experts, looks at why failure is not something to fear.

1)     Failure is an essential part of the learning process 

If you’ve watched your children learn to walk, you’ll see them stand up, fall over, and then stand up again. Over, and over, and over again. Often the only way to learn something is to try it, get it wrong, and then try again until you get it right.

We don’t expect babies to get it right first time and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to get it right every time either. The best lessons I’ve ever had in self-employment have been as a result of screwing something up!

2)     You should be failing sometimes

Conquering your fearsI would even argue that if you never fail, you need to get out of your comfort zone. If you never take a risk you’ll never give yourself the opportunity to try new things, to learn and to develop.

Of course you need to be sensible in the level of risk you accept (don’t risk money unless you can afford to lose it, for example) but a little risk could open up opportunities you simply won’t see otherwise.

3)     Fail fast,  then move on 

That said, it clearly does make sense to avoid failure if you can. What’s important is that when it does happen just accept it and move on. Don’t linger on your failings, learn the lessons that need to be learned and get on with what comes next.

4)     Don’t be so British!

The USA has a higher proportion of entrepreneurs than the UK, partly because the American attitude to failure is much more positive there than in the UK.  For us Brits, failing in business is something to be embarrassed about whereas in the US it isn’t. If you want to be an entrepreneur, it could really pay to lose your stiff upper lip!

Helen Lindop is the creator of Business Plus Baby and Women Plus Business, and a successful author and writer.

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