A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend of mine who is a entrepreneur. We ended up talking about her business and its challenges. During the conversation, she confided to me quietly, “I just don’t want to look like I’m failing.”
After four years of running an online marketing consultancy, I had to face some hard facts about myself and my business. Ultimately, I needed to take a step back from being a businesswoman so I could learn more about becoming a more successful businesswoman. That was an extremely difficult decision to make because I didn’t want to seem like a failure nor that I was quitting. For some reason, I felt like I had something to prove to the world that I was capable of being an entrepreneur.
This wasn’t the first time I heard a fellow female entrepreneur tell me about their fear of failing. I hear similar reasons why failure isn’t an option but mostly because women do have an inherent need to prove their capabilities.
Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? Apparently, fear of failure is a top concern for women entrepreneurs. In the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women’s Report conducted by Babson College, entrepreneurship is becoming a top career choice for a growing number of women. However, women were also more likely to have lower perceptions of their entrepreneurial abilities than male business owners. According to the report, this fear of failure is also linked to lower rates of entrepreneurship among women because of the inherent risk of starting a business.
My second startup is using a Lean Startup methodology toward our product development. Basically, our focus is on learning as much as we can about our potential clients by conducting a series of experiments with our minimum viable product. The purpose of these experiments is to “fail fast.” Now, why would we want our product to fail? With the Lean Startup approach, the faster that your experiment doesn’t work, the quicker you can pivot toward another experiment that does work.
You could say my first business was a part of a series of experiments in my entrepreneurial journey. Instead of spending five more years tolling away on a business that wasn’t growing, I made a pivot based on the data and chose a different route that could eventually lead me to my goal.
If you are faced with the same nagging fear of failure regarding your business or career, take a step back and tell yourself the following:
1. I Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Fail
Have you ever faced a fear in your life? Whether it was getting a shot, going on an airplane ride or jumping out a plane, how did you conquer your fear? Don’t let a fear of failing hold you back from pursuing a lifelong passion.
2. Failure Has Nothing To Do With My Capabilities or Intellect
Failing is not about being smart or dumb. But it is smart to learn from your past mistakes so you can further improve yourself.
3. Failing Will Teach Me How To Do It Right
Sometime the best way we learn is by screwing up first.