Of all the people I've talked to over the years about starting their own business, the fear of failure is the number one thing that keeps many people from doing what they really want to do. Yet, even the best entrepreneurs out there have failed at least once, and those that don't even try will still fail in some aspect of their career.
So what is it that keeps people from jumping in? For most, it's the fear of not having an income to take care of their families, or letting down the people that work for them. For others, it's the uncertainty of the path to success, or anxiety about having to re-enter the workforce after their business fails.
The truth is though, that until you fail multiple times and really embrace it as part of the entrepreneurial journey, you won't ever realize what you're capable of accomplishing. You also won't really be able to experience the joy and success that comes from being a part of a start-up.
The key isn't to avoid failure then, but to get better at handling it. These tips should help better prepare you for doing just that.
1. Understand that failure is a re-direction, and not a dead end
When failure comes, it can hit you like a ton of bricks and the pressure is enough to lose all perspective. When I had to throw in the towel on my first startup, I came face to face with all the effort and work I'd done to try and make it. However, in hindsight I realized how much better prepared I was for the next venture, which left me feeling more confident than ever before. Once I was able to walk away from the failed venture I was available to invest in the next idea. More importantly, it was a far better opportunity and with an even stronger team. The faster you can move forward and the better you get at recovering from failure the more likely you are to succeed.
2. Be transparent about the situation you're in, with people you trust
When a startup fails it can feel like losing someone close to you. You'll go through each stage of grief, or perhaps just skip ahead to despair and stay there awhile. Even small failures that don't sink you, can still take the wind out of your sails. Having a stiff upper lip and denying anything is wrong though, just delays your process of recovery. Find someone you're close to and you can trust, and be 100% honest with what you're going through. Commit to coping, learning, and growing from the experience. You'll find your way to a new outlook and the next opportunity before you know it.
3. Be prepared for what failure could look like, before you begin
Though there aren't ways to predict what could go wrong 100% of the time, having a plan in place for what to do if the worst should happen is important. Too many people jump into something new and exciting with the feeling that it'll all work out. However, you need to get comfortable with what could happen if something fails along the way. Whether it's what to do if the business goes bankrupt, or how to go 3 months without a paycheck, having a plan in place will give you a stronger position to come from should something negative occur.
Failure will happen more than once, and it is painful, just remember it isn't all bad. It will necessitate that you get stronger as a leader and entrepreneur. Regardless of the magnitude of the failure, or the degree to which you're impacted, getting a good mindset around failure means that you will handle it better when it comes. Finding gold, after all, means you sometimes have to dig through a lot of dirt first.