Overcoming your fear of failure when starting a business

illustration of a man climbing over a graph

It’s a universally acknowledged truth that starting your own business as an entrepreneur calls for some pluck. Often, the reasons stopping people from starting their own business aren’t material (such as a lack of capital or existing work commitments)—but rather, the fear of what might happen if their start-up doesn’t take off in the way they’d hoped.

Even if you’ve taken the initial leap in establishing your business, you may still harbour secret fears about the future. However, when you operate with a constant fear of failure, your business decisions and ability to plan well can be negatively affected. Avoid this self-fulfilling prophecy by putting the following mechanisms in place to allay your angst.

Create a detailed business plan

Establishing a small business is not child’s play, and people who enter the business world unprepared will certainly discover how difficult the job can be. The best thing you can do when starting out is to create a detailed business plan, involving any of your major shareholders and employees.

Begin with the product or service you’re going to offer. What’s the state of the current market? What’s your point of difference? Who are your target demographics? What’s the price point, in light of the predicted cost of your materials and resources? How will you advertise?

Secondly, logistical considerations: where will your office or factory be? Do you really require physical business premises? How many staff do you need to employ to make a profit? Do you need to invest in transportation for delivery?

The key is to be specific about budget allocations, as well as practical: you should be able to visualise putting each step of your plan into action.

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Keep a shrewd eye on expenses

Some of the primary reasons for start-up failure are problems related to accounts. Most start-up owners haven’t had much experience managing multiple bank accounts, understanding business tax, or paying salaries. With your profits and payments spread across all of these different channels and purposes, you need to secure yourself some peace of mind.

One solution is to use accounting software and applications. Advanced online accounting programs are suited to small business owners, constituting a convenient, economical means of tracking your income and expenses.

Look good, feel good

What will help you feel established, professional, and ready to volley with the most intimidating competitors in your industry? Resource investments such as work vehicles and sensible, slick and good-quality office furniture can be psychologically transformative.

Build a (sense of) community

Getting in touch with people who’ve gone through the same small-business stresses as you can often help to ease your concerns. If you have a friend or relative who has successfully started a similar business in the same industry, you may be able to glean some useful advice in your discussions. Online communities can also be helpful for asking questions and getting support.  

Even if there’s nobody in your immediate circle you can chat with, many larger cities and regions host networking events or conferences for small-business owners, which will allow you to learn from and connect with others in your same boat. Especially focus on how people explain dealing with small failures along the way without abandoning their whole enterprises—often, this kind of reactive resilience is what fearful start-up owners need to hear about the most.


Cloe Matheson is a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand. She loves writing pieces about business and career development. She is exploring opportunities and ideas that would help her to achieve her ultimate goal: to run her own successful business. Read more of her articles on her Tumblr.

Categories:   Insights
Cloe Matheson
By Cloe Matheson
Disclaimer

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.