Entrepreneur Fears - Failure and Success

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Fear of Success and Fear of Failure

Being an entrepreneur is kind of scary. The truth is, people have been taught for years that success is working at a good job, saving money and retiring at 65. Over time, you'll get moved up in the company, start managing people and maybe even get to become "boss". To be fair, to the majority of people that is still considered to be success, and rightfully so. However, it makes the idea of entrepreneurship that much more scary. Here are two contradicting fears that are found frequently in entrepreneurs: the fear of failure and the fear of success. 

Fear of Success:

"To me, the whole concept of fear of success is proof that we are definitely scraping the bottom of the fear barrel. Are we going to start having AA-type meetings for these people? They'll go, 'Hi, my name is Bill, and the only thing I'm worried about is having a stereo and a cream colored couch.' " - Jerry Seinfeld. 


Fear of success is not well known and to many, like Jerry Seinfeld, it seems silly; why would you fear being successful. However, the true fear is actually associated with sustainable growth. To be afraid of success is to be afraid that you'll get too popular quickly, and with that success you won't be able to manage the growth of your business. 

Think of a tee-shirt company that sells 20 shirts a day, but then gets a big story written about them which leads to 5,000 orders in one day. That company has to scramble, gather capital, materials and labor in order to ship out all of these shirts. If the company stumbles in getting people their shirts people may never buy from them again, and they'll get a reputation for bad service. The fear of success is a common fear among entrepreneurs, and rightfully so; scalability is one of the most challenging pieces of running a business. 

The best way to manage the fear of success is to plan for contingencies and keep a handle on your mission and vision. For many with success comes opportunity and many of those opportunities lead down rabbit holes that do not follow your companies vision. So, while you are not booming with business, it's good to make sure all of the people you work with have plans for if things take off - this way no one is caught off guard. 

Fear of Failure:

If you're an entrepreneur, the "what if" game has probably kept you up at night. "What if our customers don't like the new product", "what if the our positive buzz wears off", "what if the competitors lower their price" - it's a challenging game because it's both realistic and playing with things you have little control of. 

Managing those fears is not easy but a large part of being an entrepreneur is having confidence in yourself and in your employees. Plan for success and embrace failure as a possibility. Don't let the fear paralyze you, but instead, let it mobilize you to make sure you're working that much harder. Continue to adapt to changes - this will help ensure that, while pieces of your product might fail, the whole thing will remain in tact. 

The main thing to remember is that fear is a motivator. It is the stick (not the carrot) that pushes us further, and if we use that fear to keep us on our toes, these fears can prove to be incredibly rewarding. However, if you let those fears paralyze you, it will only help those fears become realized. 

So, as an entrepreneur, what scares you the most?


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