Self-doubt and fear of failure can be the biggest obstacles to success in any endeavor. When you’re taking a life-changing risk like starting your own business, fear is something that must be overcome.
Most people are told from an early age that fear of failure is harmful or irrational. People who win against all odds become heroes. There are many stories of bold entrepreneurs who survived failure and reached incredible success.
Steve Jobs was fired from his own company and returned to make Apple a greater success than ever. It’s common sense that he and every other human being makes mistakes repeatedly. On the road to success, dead-ends and failures are to be expected at one point or another.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to develop a business plan and culture where mistakes are accepted, not punished. Instead, they should be seen as learning experiences that help to refine strategies and fuel faster growth.
You might regard failure as the opposite of success, but that still leaves a pretty broad interpretation. Any entrepreneur will tell you that there are varying degrees of both success and failure. Failure is nearly always a part of any success story.
Most Successful People Fail
For example, the legendary car maker and father of the moving assembly line, Henry Ford, failed in his first three business attempts. Walt Disney very nearly went bankrupt several times even after he began making successful films. Name any influential and innovative business leader, and you’ll find someone who isn’t overwhelmed by adversity.
You can choose to see failure as an opportunity to re-strategize and adapt. Given the nuances of technical advances, strong competition, and shifting market demand, you simply cannot plan on being perfect. Melisa Singh, founder of StoryShelter, maintains: “Being adaptable is the real test.”
Nobody Is Perfect
Imperfection is part of who you are. Things would get awfully dull if we were all born making perfect choices. Even in the modern world of business with its powerful data analytics, internet marketing, and specialized business degrees, no decision is 100 percent guaranteed to get good results.
The realization that you can’t simply command success will help you to be more empathetic with your staff, your customers, and especially yourself. Imperfection and disappointment are part of life. Accepting failure in a business environment will help to reduce conflict, improve planning, and start moving forward again more easily.
You’ll expect every employee to work with integrity, dedication, and attention to detail. However, asking anyone to work miracles or do better than their best is unrealistic and will only end in your workforce looking for another job. The failure of others can teach you important lessons.
You Evolve After Failure
Your company will evolve despite the occasional failure. Having a culture that’s innovative and flexible will help to minimize damage from failures and improve your methods. As a business owner, you should look at every initiative in terms of risk assessment. Your startup should always evaluate the consequences of failure along with the opportunity for profit.
If you document your plans and processes, even if you fail, you’ll be able to review what happened and avoid the same mistakes the next time. Failure is only certain when you stop trying. You can even smile and take pride in failures if they lead to eventual success and continued growth.
Some Things Can’t Be Controlled
Often, setbacks involve surprises that are out of anyone’s control, so they shouldn’t bring shame. Accidents, bad weather, or a single software glitch can ruin even the most careful plans. It does nobody any good to assign blame for events that can’t be anticipated.
Make Things Right and Move On
Efficient business operation doesn’t allow you the luxury of slowing productivity or destroying professional relationships because a mistake occurred. If you or your staff fret over mistakes, you’ll be that less likely to take a chance or share an idea in the future. It’s important to take your lessons as they come and get right back to doing business.
While mistakes can lead to bad feelings, if you accept responsibility and apologize it opens the door to a fresh start. If you’ve unfairly assigned blame, find ways to make it right with the offended party. When errors happen, set an example that will encourage honesty and accountability in others.
Admitting that failure has occurred is the first step to analyzing why and how it happened. This information may lead you to patterns or influences that help prevent future mistakes. Everything you’re able to learn improves your business prospects.
In conclusion, learn to accept that failures are not necessarily catastrophes. If you learn your lessons and continue working hard toward success, you’ll appreciate that the occasional stumbling block is a logical aspect of doing business.
About the Author
Eric Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter @ericdavidgordon