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Admit It: You Fear Failure (But You're Not Alone)

An international survey showed that U.S. entrepreneurs have bleak views on failure, while other countries are more optimistic.

In "fail fast" Silicon Valley, failure isn't feared; it's encouraged. But a new study by Barclays showed that on a global scale, the United States is less accepting of failure compared to other countries.

After surveying 2,123 high net-worth individuals (including investors and entrepreneurs) across 17 countries, Barclays found that 74% believe a positive outlook on failure is essential for economic growth. But only 37% of respondents in the U.S. said past failures bode well for a new business, compared to 81% in the Middle East, 67% in Asia and 42% in Europe.

The study found that "the U.S. and Europe may have dominated entrepreneurship in the second half of the 20th century, but the landscape is shifting." A “tolerance for failure, and the ability to learn from setbacks, will be an important determinant of creating this vibrant entrepreneurial culture.”

When asked what entrepreneurs should do if their business fails, only 41% of U.S. respondents said they should persist instead of cutting losses. Respondents in the Middle East (55%) and Asia (53%) are more persistent in the face of failure.

Besides cultural views on failure, the study also noted how entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs regard risk and failure. Among those who considered themselves entrepreneurs, 39% said setbacks strengthened their character while only 21% of non-entrepreneurs agreed. Past failures encouraged 34% of the entrepreneurs to try their endeavors again compared with just 19% of non-entrepreneurs.

Good thing there are entrepreneurs out there that can coach you on how to bounce back from failure. And keep in mind, even some of the most famous companies owe their success to a mistake or two (as is the case for billion dollar company Zipcar).

 

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