The fear of failure in small business can be crippling. It will cause you to shy away from new opportunities, stay small in your thinking and avoid change. It’s one thing to be responsible and to consider the risks and opportunities when making decisions for your small business. But if you always feel a sense of dread, if you need constant control, if you NEVER take any risks, if you’re staying in a job you hate for no good reason – your fear of failure may be taking the lead.

If you want to wrangle your fear of failure and take a leap of faith into your small business venture, here are some thoughts and tips that may give you a little courage!


Failure in small business is inevitable.

Yes, yes – I know you’re probably looking for me to offer some comfort and make all the bad feelings around failure in small business go away, but sorry I shan’t be doing that.

Reason being, you will fail in your small business endeavours, probably heaps of times. You are going to let customers down, you are going to let yourself down (loads) but that doesn’t make you a failure in small business. It makes you a human!

If you’re just starting out with your very first small business idea, you’re probably not going to make truckloads of money straight up. Your meticulously planned and formatted business plan is amazing, but thing may not work out the way you imagined. So what? Deal with the setbacks and find a way forward, that’s what boss ladies and boss dudes (boss people if you will) do every day of the week.


Perfectionism doesn’t serve you.

Striving for excellence will always differentiate you from the crowd. However, in the reaching for the highest standards, we must be willing to be rubbish at some point in the process. No one is born with all the skills, knowledge and capabilities they need to succeed in their chosen field – it takes practice and a commitment to growth.

This is the antithesis of perfectionism! Perfectionism will have you believe that if you can’t get it to look like the vision in your head, it’s not worth putting out there. That if it’s not perfect, you’ll be criticised and humiliated. This mindset stifles creativity and impedes your productivity.

Have your amateur attempts, your idealistic endeavours and your crazy ideas criticised or rejected gives you the opportunity to learn and grow. Perfectionism will rob you of this accelerated growth by causing you to focus on the way things look on the outside.  Focus your energy on developing the qualities in your work and in yourself that will really make a difference for you.

learning something new

Fail quickly

So if failure in small business is inevitable and you plan on learning as much as you can, why not just fail quickly? Start today. Try something out that you’ve been thinking about for a long time. Something that you know you probably won’t be any good at.

Design something challenging. Make something you’ve never made before. Use a new program. Offer that new service or product. Reach out to a potential client. Let me guess, feels awkward, uncomfortable, like you’re dying inside. That’s brilliant. Lean into the discomfort and see it to its disastrous end. Then try again tomorrow.

The best way to fail quickly is to keep your upfront investment low and be sure that you can exit quickly if you need to. For example, if you decide to start oil painting you wouldn’t buy a huge canvas and the most expensive paints. You’d probably join a community oil painting class, get student paints and a small canvas to learn with. If you’re launching a small business in an industry you don’t have a lot of experience in, you might want to keep your inventory small and your business processes simple until you see some growth.

Ask for help

You don’t have to figure this thing out alone. Most people struggle in silence or whinge about their problems, but very few people will actually just ask for help.

Join a community of people or a networking group or a whatever to compare notes and help each other. This is easier than ever with Facebook groups, Meetups, Instagram and other online communities. You could also look into short courses to upskill and develop your knowledge.

One caveat to this. If you’re going to make the effort of asking for help, so respect to the person you’ve asked and action some of their suggestions. You don’t have to agree or act on everything they suggest, but you should be able to find at least one action point that makes sense for your business. Be sure to loop back to them to tell them how their suggestions worked out in your business. This will build the relationship with a potential mentor in your life and it’s just good manners yo!


Share your small business fails

Most people have more failures than successes. The problem is we hide these from each other. You have nothing to be ashamed of! We all make mistakes, we all fall short of what we thought we could achieve – so why don’t we celebrated our failures?

You will not die of failure or shame. This is not life-threatening stuff we’re dealing with. The only thing that needs to die is your ego and mine! Maybe if more of us shared our failures we’d all grow braver together?

So let’s start, share your #fail on Instagram tag me and some of your business buddies. We can laugh or commiserate together, depending on what the occasion calls for. Whatever happens next for you, remember you can always dust yourself off, cut your losses and start again.

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