Failure is a process and a key component in our ability to learn, it is a key element as well in our ability to build a sustainable business and an element of a great beginning every time it happens. Learning from failures is one of the essential business building skills.
As an entrepreneur and the owner of your small business, it’s completely understandable that you still have some element of a fear of failure. You may have taken the initial plunge by actually getting the business started in the first place, but growing that business is an occasionally frightening task. It requires you to take on risk and hire talent that can make you feel inferior.
Relax, failures are rarely catastrophic unless you allow them to be or fail to react appropriately. At Viral Solutions, in order to succeed in building a very successful full service marketing agency, we have learned from our failures and do not fear them. You will not learn this stuff in college.
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates
As you seek to grow your business, and yourself as an entrepreneur, how do you deal with that fear of failure? How do we learn from it? How do we avoid it?
Accept that you are going to fail. Just as in the stages of loss, the first step is acceptance. Accept that failure is going to happen, and it’s going to happen in all sizes. You probably fear the unknown nature of what’s going to happen with your business, but if you accept right off the bat that you are going to fail (at least to an extent), you’ll find yourself much more uninhibited. Of course, you should keep in mind that failure doesn’t necessarily mean your entire business is going to go under, or that all of your failures are a bad thing. Instead, it’s a way to find the best road to success.
Maintain consistent goals. Even when you do fail, it’s important that you continue to shoot for the same goal. Everything you attempt with your business should be with the same end goal in mind. This consistency will be of comfort to you as you enter into the unknown.
Understand the fear of success. Many of us do not feel worthy of success, so subconsciously we sabotage our own success. Sound crazy? It’s real and you need to be cognizant of this human element.
Keep those creative juices flowing. The brainstorming process is really an amazing thing. We sit down, spend some time racking our brains to come up with a truly unique and exciting idea, and when we finally find it…we get afraid. Surely you’ve had this experience before — you come across an idea so bold and creative that the prospect of actually having it come to fruition frightens you. As you build your team, make sure you allow for free flowing ideas. Many will fail, but all will be a lesson.
“Early success is a terrible teacher. You’re essentially being rewarded for a lack of preparation, so when you find yourself in a situation where you must prepare, you can’t do it. You don’t know how.” – Chris Hadfield
Take the high road. There will come a time in your young startup that temptation will raise it’s ugly head. You will have a decision to make, this decision will involve one that will benefit you financially perhaps and one that may move you closer to business failure – the latter being the right move with your new customer. Accept this failure, it will earn you the trust of many. Trust is about a person. Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Do not hide your failures. When the complaints become public, do not attempt to remove them, we all make mistakes. The key to expanding trust is dealing with problems in the open and treating the situation with fairness. The consumer wants to see what happens when it happens to them. Silence is a terrible strategy.
Be an inspiring leader and admit to your mistakes. This is not an easy task! Let’s face it: You’re going to mess up at some point. It might be something small, or it might be something large, but it’s going to happen. When you do, tell your employees that you’ve made an error. Some might say that this is showing weakness. It is showing weakness, but only normal, human weakness!
“I think self-deprecation is a mark of high intelligence and cunning. It shows you can understand your flaws and, at the same time, deflect some of the high expectations away from yourself. That leader is a genius who gives all the credit to the staff and team members. That’s a guy I would be inspired to work for.” ~ Ted Thompson
Understand Self-Awareness. Dr. Wayne Dyer identifies the importance of understanding one’s emotions, attitudes, and beliefs toward oneself, others, and life. The ability to sit, reflect, and accept one’s position on his or herself is a sobering experience. It can surface lots of emotions – positive and negative feelings toward our internal and external perspectives. How one feels on the inside matters. Self-awareness is the journey to understanding those feelings.
Just do it. Sometimes, it takes doing the very thing we fear to be able to conquer that fear. Once you’ve done it, you’ll find that it almost definitely isn’t scary any more.
At Viral Solutions, in order to succeed in building a very successful full service marketing agency, we have learned from our failures and we do not regret them or fear failing again.
Copyright Viral Solutions 2017
Thomas von Ahn
Chief Elephant Slayer for Viral Solutions LLC
“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful
men and women keep moving. They make mistakes but they
don’t quit.” — Conrad Hilton