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How to Overcome Your Fear of Failing in Business

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How to Overcome Your Fear of Failing in Business

eople are afraid of heights, spiders, the dark and watching their businesses fail. The reality? A healthy fear of failing isn’t a bad thing, though, unless you let it dictate how you run your company. In fact, a lot of business experts say you should welcome failure, since it means you’re taking risks and giving yourself the ability to grow by learn from them.

“The fear of failure keeps every business owner up at night sometimes. However, owning your own business is a winding road journey of highs and lows, not a destination. The most important thing is to stay clear on the vision of how you want your business to look”
Bob Bilbruck, business analyst and CEO of Captjur

The good news? The fear of your business failing is common and conquerable. That means you need to recognize when fear is, actually, holding you back and when it’s helping you move forward.

6 Fear-of-Failure Mindsets to Recognize 

The fear of failure causes you to avoid situations that can lead to harm. But, by the same token, fear can cause you to shy away situations that can lead to great rewards. Basically, without risk, there’s no reward. To conquer your fears, first look at the most common causes of fear entrepreneurs experience.

1. Disappointing or Failing Others.

As a print shop owner, there’s a lot riding on your company’s success. For instance, if you shut down or even fail to meet a monetary goal, then you might jeopardize your family’s financial security. If you employ team members, closing your shop also means they’re out of a job, leading to their family’s financial insecurity. This generalized pressure can paralyze your decision-making abilities.

2. Playing It Too Safe.

The concept of failure can make a lot of business owners play it safe, opting for the easier road or short-term gain instead of taking the risks and making efforts that could result in long-term growth.

“I've seen the fear of failure cripple businesses through indecision and lack of innovation. There are plenty of businesses that have the potential to be wildly successful on a national or international stage if given the opportunity to scale.”
Teresha Aird, chief marketing officer at Offices.net

Careful and considered scaling can, more often than not, Aird points out, result in higher potential to earn money and greater opportunities for delegation, something that’s particularly beneficial for print shops looking to thrive and grow in the long term.

3. Having a Fixed Mindset

This can play out in a couple ways. “First, a shop owner has accomplished a lot in the past—from success in sports, in the classroom, in business and so on—and assumes past performance is a sure pass to future success,” says Ira Wolfe, president and chief Googlization officer at Success Performance Solutions. “Let’s cut to the chase: It's not.” When the going gets tough with this mindset, the shop owner might just give up or kick the can down the road, rather than pushing through the problem.

“A fixed mindset can also prevent a shop owner from trying something new, admitting a mistake or being vulnerable. Instead, they do everything to protect their reputation.”
Ira Wolfe, president and chief Googlization officer at Success Performance Solutions

This type of attitude often creates a toxic shop culture that pushes out stellar employees.

4. Being a Micromanager

“Control freak tendencies are the worst traits a business owner can have, since they limit your creativity and the reach you gain by embracing other people to help you execute your vision."
Bob Bilbruck, business analyst and CEO of Captjur

"Many shop owners get down in the weeds with running their business, and don’t relinquish enough responsibility to other employees and contractors to help them run and grow their shop,” Bilbruck says.

5. Striving for Perfection

You’ve probably met quite a few perfectionists—people who want to get everything right every single time. The problem is you’re likely to avoid risks out of fear of failing and breaking that “perfect” streak.

“It's like the student who selects only easy classes to preserve the 4.0 and stops challenging himself and learning. The expert declines to accept new challenges because a mistake or failure exposes their vulnerability. This is similar to imposter syndrome.”
Ira Wolfe, president and chief Googlization officer at Success Performance Solutions

However, remember that mistakes are a natural part of life. “Every successful business leader has their share,” Wolfe says. “It's only those who are willing to share them and grow from them who keep developing and improving.”

How Fear Holds You & Your Business Back

Fear can manifest itself in your business in lots of ways that may feel familiar to you. For example, this could lead to you: 

  • Not focusing on solid core products and services 
  • Trying to scale too fast
  • Obsessively micromanaging all aspects of the business
  • Keeping yourself from setting realistic goals 

“It might seem counterintuitive, but overly ambitious entrepreneurs experience these issues because of fear,” Aird says. “For example, they might look to become as big as possible as fast as possible, steering away from a core offering in favor of rapid expansion to curtail the stress associated with potential failure.”

You’ll Miss Out on Valuable Opportunities

Fear can lead you to miss out on important opportunities in your work life.

High Achievers Worry They Can’t Succeed Again

It’s very common that high achievers have can have the greatest sales year of their career, but then freeze because it feels like they’ve set the bar too high. However, a lack of confidence leads you to believe you can’t duplicate this success. This can lead to avoiding risks that could take you even higher. You might also start procrastinating, which can lead to missed business opportunities or having other people make the decisions for you.

You’ll Lose Your Creative Spark

As a business owner in the decorated apparel industry, you know that creativity—in artwork, printing processes, social media, sales and so on—is the key to success. Do you worry that the well will suddenly run dry, and you won’t be able to come up with the next hot design? This can lead you to second guess yourself. As a creative shop owner already, you know the journey in your print shop is all about trial and error. But if you only see the failures, you’ll think you’ve lost your spark, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle of creative blocks. 

7 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Failure in Business

If you’re suffering from a fear of failure, there’s only one way to move forward—conquer it. 

1. Rethink Risks & Reframe Beliefs 

Often, our greatest fear is the unknown. If we don’t know what something is like or what will happen if we try something, then we aren’t likely to try it in the first place. Instead, we stick to the status quo. If you acknowledge that fear is a regular, normal feeling, you can reduce its power over you. View it as an internal prompt to weigh the pros and cons of your decision before you make it.

2. Be OK With Feeling Uncomfortable

It's also important to understand that you should, almost always, feel uncomfortable when making moves in your business. “Stepping out of your comfort zone to expand into exciting avenues should always be on the cards,” Aird says.

“If you get too comfortable and rest on your laurels, you could get overtaken by hungrier competitors.”
Teresha Aird, chief marketing officer at Offices.net

3. Embrace Failure

In Aird’s experience, failure is a necessary step on your path to success. “Focus on identifying the reasons behind each failure, and study your mistakes to limit your chances of having them happen again,” she says.

4. Take Smaller Steps

A person who wants to run a marathon doesn’t go out on day one and run 26 miles straight. They train and break it down into smaller goals before the final run. If you want to undertake a major effort in your business, like adding a new department or a new decorating process, break it up into smaller, easily managed goals that you can implement a step at a time. Remember to make SMART goals so that you have a specific timeline in mind, and you can ensure you meet each goal before moving on to the next one.

5. Build a Support System

Entrepreneurs with a failure mindset often find themselves surrounded by poor support systems and are too focused on their own journey to understand the value of joining a solid business network or talk with a business coach. “These types of support systems can result in great opportunities, while also serving as a perfect sounding board to discuss your own fear of failure or proclivity for control,” Aird says.

6. Use Data to Make Decisions

There’s an old saying that “numbers don’t lie.” Use your sales data to give you an honest appraisal of how you’re doing and how you can improve your business. Data analysis takes a lot of the guesswork out of what will and what won’t work. And by following this data, you can alleviate your fears by ensuring your new idea or approach will be successful.

7. Commit to Making Your Business Work

You may experience failures along the way, but, deciding that you’re in your print shop for the long haul will keep you motivated enough to overcome any fears that might be holding you back from making tough decisions. “This feeling will permeate with employees, partners and clients, sending a clear message that you’re committed to your company, your goals, objectives and mission statement,” Bilbruck says.

Use Fear to Inform and Power Your Business Decisions

Fear of failure doesn’t have to be the debilitating problem for you that it is for so many people. By identifying what’s causing your fear, you can overcome it and get your business on the path towards bigger and better things in the future.

Jun 12, 2022