What If It Doesn’t Work?

This past weekend as I was contemplating the risks involved in starting a new business, and the myriad reasons why entrepreneurs don’t succeed, I was struck by this thought – failure takes practice in getting it right.Fast-forward to this morning and the first conversation I had with a work colleague mirrored this perspective when she said, “You have to be brave enough to take a leap and trust that your security net will ease the fall.”

Of course the thinking behind these statements and the sentiments they express are but one component of business start-ups; but, it’s the implication of their meaning that should be factored along one’s entrepreneurial journey.

There is inherent risk in launching a business and the successful integration of all its moving parts is never a guarantee – but you’ll never know if success is possible unless you try. Research indicates that, in general, women are more risk-averse than men in terms of their entrepreneurial behaviour.

While fear of failure doesn’t discriminate between the genders, it is acknowledged by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) that women generally exhibit lower confidence in their own abilities and this attribute “…is likely to contribute to their higher rates of fear of failure in a business context.” GEM’s 2015 Women’s Report goes on to say that, “41% of women who perceive opportunities would be prevented from starting a business due to fear of failure, compared to 34% of men.”

The start-up world’s catchcry is simple: fail fast, fail cheap and learn from your experiences. In his article Learning from Failure, Daniel Crenna suggests that it is through sharing our stories of failure that we understand that the entrepreneurial landscape is made richer by the many talented, inspired individuals who are earning success one failure at a time. Their stories are important!

Crenna goes on to say that, “If an entrepreneur is in this game for the long haul, they will fail so many times that they will no longer differentiate failure from success, because like any human endeavour that improves with practice, the art of business building is a steady march of preparation, timing, execution, and aftermath.”

By definition, embracing your entrepreneurial spirit requires that you be willing to take risks—including looking fear in the eye and stepping out in spite of it. Coming out of this past weekend’s reflection, I arrived at the following conclusion. As women, we need to accept that the fear exists, surrender our entrenched definition of what it means to be successful in business and trust that our passion, creativity and capabilities will not fail us.

Sources: Technology Innovation Management Review, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and www.Inc.com

– Alanna Keefe