The fear of failure is one of the strongest forces that holds people back from achieving their true potential. People who fear failure learn it’s easier to coast along with the status quo than take that crucial first step. Yes, it’s incredibly easy to rationalize why you shouldn’t stick your neck out … however, people who fear failure never take their first step toward success.
When failing isn’t a failure
Successful entrepreneurs realize that failure isn’t necessarily a failure. In other words, valuable lessons can be learned from the experience … lessons which you would never learn from a business class or MBA program.
In fact, there are some venture capitalists who won’t invest in any entrepreneur that doesn’t have at least one failed business under his or her belt.
Make no mistake: failing isn’t fun.
But if your business is going to be a success, you’ll need to face some setbacks along the way.
Here’s how to make the most of your failures:
1. Analyze your mistakes to understand what worked and what didn’t.
The worst thing to do is to repeat the same mistake in your next venture. We all have a tendency to chalk up a failure to bad luck. However, there is substantial value in accepting and analyzing your own mistakes.
2. Leverage your network.
When you create a company, you begin building a network of people around you … vendors, clients, customers, contractors, experts, etc. Even if that company fails, you still have this valuable collection of resources. This means that the next time you start a business, you’ll already have a great graphic designer or CPA in mind. The lesson here is even if you’re closing your business, be sure to keep nurturing the people who helped you along the way.
3. Don’t take setbacks personally.
To keep your spirits up, you can’t let any one business define you. For example, if you start a business and it ends up failing, never think of yourself as a former (or failed) CEO. Instead, you’re an entrepreneur with your own unique set of experiences and strengths that you can bring anywhere … whether that’s to your next business venture or a job.
4. Don’t risk everything.
No matter how much you believe in your business, it’s never wise to use all your personal finances to keep your business running. Never enter into a financial loss that will take you years to recover from. You can also structure your new business in such a way to minimize your personal liability. You can build up your emergency fund. No matter your situation, you should always manage risk intelligently ⎯ embracing failure doesn’t mean you should risk losing it all.
5. Recognize the benefits of failure.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. In business, like in life, there are valuable lessons to be learned in each failure. Failing can bring you closer to success once you’re ready to embrace it. When you acknowledge that failure is possible, you can learn from your mistakes and empower yourself with more wisdom and confidence to face your next challenge.
As you can see, failure isn't the end all, be all. In fact, it can be a great learning tool and motivator if you choose to look at it as such. Just remember, everyone experiences some form of failure in their life; the goal is to push past the fear so you can have the life you've always dreamed of.
Are you letting fear of failure keeping you from pursuing your dreams? Have you experienced failure in your professional life? How did you overcome it? Drop us a note; we'd love to hear from you!
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Nellie Akalp is the CEO of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service, where she helps entrepreneurs Incorporate or Form an LLC for their new businesses.