Is Fear of Failure Holding Back Entrepreneurs?
Whilst the overwhelming majority of Australians have a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship:
More than half are afraid of failing, according to research published this week by Amway.
The 2015 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report, released yesterday, surveyed 50,000 respondents across 44 countries.
Of the Australians surveyed, 85% were found to have a positive attitude to entrepreneurship, 54% said they have a desire to be an entrepreneur and 44% said they could imagine starting their own business.
However, of the same group of respondents, 55% said they are afraid of failing with a business venture.
Being saddled with a financial burden is at the top of the list of fears, with 38% of respondents saying this is what worries them about starting their own business.
Some survey respondents said their fears stem from concerns about being personally disappointed (17%), while others were worried about the threat of economic crisis (16%), threat of unemployment (15%) and legal consequences (14%).
There was little difference in the findings when it comes to education levels, with 89% of respondents with a university degree displaying a positive attitude towards self-employment, compared to 82% among those without a university degree.
Dr Martin Bliemel, senior lecturer in innovation and entrepreneurship at UNSW told SmartCompany this morning these fears about entrepreneurship can be combatted.
And the starting point for this could be re-thinking how people define entrepreneurship.
“I see a lot of people who as they become more senior in their career, they decide to become consultants to businesses and start their own business entity. That’s one form of entrepreneurship,” Bliemel says.
“One of the challenges we see, with say medical or engineering students, is that a lot of people will eventually strike out on their own and they may have deep technical skills in that area but it would really help if everyone has some entrepreneurship basics.”
Bliemel says things such as how to actually start a business, how to attract customers and how to position a business against competitors, is not generally something that is taught in standard university degrees.
So how can we help entrepreneurs overcome this fear of failure and encourage our experienced workforce to venture out on their own?
We believe these measures would help make a difference:
1. Focus on growth
The most successful people will tell you they've had more failures than successes, but that's how they became so successful. Don't berate yourself when you make a mistake. Instead - reflect, learn, try again and grow.
2. Ask for help
Next time you make a mistake or feel doubtful about something, ask for help. Sometimes all you need is to bounce a few ideas around with someone you trust. Chances are you know a colleague, friend or mentor who has experienced the exact same situation. Don't be afraid to ask for help or request a second opinion.
3. Don't be concerned with what other people think
Are you afraid to fail because of what other people might think? Let go of this negative habit and ask yourself, "Who cares what other people think?" Some of the greatest inventions of our time were scoffed at initially, but did it stop those savvy entrepreneurs from pursuing their idea? Pursue your ideas and passions because you want to, and don't live your life for anybody else.
4. What's the worst that can happen?
When you find yourself feeling fear, map out all the possible outcomes including the worst case scenario. Try not to let your anxiety affect your view of the situation and always have a "plan B," which will reassure you and boost your self-confidence and eliminate the fear of failure.
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