How to Manage the Fear of Failure: Embrace It
Our co-founder Celeste O’Brien was a recent guest on the Bring Your Dreams Alive podcast with Cory Michelle (which you can read all about in our recent article).
One of the topics that Celeste and Cory touched on was the fear of failure: something that most (if not all) new entrepreneurs will experience at least once during their journey.
Fear of failure can manifest itself in many different ways for different people.
For some, this looks like imposter syndrome–with endlessly circling thoughts like “should I really be doing this?”, or “people will realize that I’m not the smart, savvy business owner that I make myself out to be…”
Or there’s another common thought pattern, the “what-if” machine going haywire in your head. This causes you to imagine every possible negative scenario that could play out as a result of your actions.
In any case, the result is often the same: decision paralysis.
The pressure of making the many decisions involved in running a business becomes too much, and you end up not being able to make any at all.
Does this sound familiar?
This is one of the most difficult aspects of entrepreneurship and small business ownership, and it happens to everyone at some point.
For wellness practitioners, this is the kind of situation that makes it especially difficult to be well.
So let’s talk about what to do about it. Spoiler alert – it involves embracing your fear, accepting it as a natural part of the process, and working with feedback to come back stronger next time.
Taking the First Step
Remember how we said that the fear of failure can manifest itself in many different ways?
Here’s another example: where the fear of failure presents itself as a fear of getting started.
Imagine, you have a great idea for a wellness business with you at the helm as a solopreneur extraordinaire. In many cases, you aren’t starting from scratch because you are experienced in your craft (whether it be bodywork, counseling, or any other field).
You already know that there is enough of a market in your area to sustain you. You have ideas for a name, logo, and a good-looking website.
You have financial projections for your first year, and have figured out that you have enough cash to get you off the ground.
But you don’t pull the trigger.
In a lot of cases, this is because things don’t feel quite right. The perfect time to get started seems fleeting, and there always seems to be more tweaking you can do.
But this is one of the most important lessons of starting a business: there will never be a “perfect” time for everything. There will always be risk, and life will get in the way.
Prepare for the inevitable failures of your first year in business, and get used to the feeling of fear – don’t try to stifle it. It’s a natural response, after all. A response that warns us we are drifting out of our comfort zone.
Do your best to prepare, build a business plan, and think hard about your vision. Then it’s time to put your newfound relationship with fear into practice. It’s time to enter the lab.
Your Business is Your Lab
“Symmetry is your lab. Let it be an experiment.”
Celeste mentioned in the BYDA podcast this was an especially impactful piece of advice she received early on in her journey.
Every day, you will be going to the lab to find out what works, and what doesn’t.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean mixing random vials together and hoping for a good result. You need a basic knowledge of what you are working with (in our world, this means a willingness to learn about finance, marketing, and more).
You also need a lab coat and fire extinguisher in case things go sideways – this means preparing for the worst without obsessing over it.
In the BYDA podcast, Celeste shared one of her favorite sayings that you hear a lot around the Symmetry team.
“Ready, set, fire, shit(!), aim.”
Notice that aiming doesn’t necessarily come before “fire”? Sometimes you need to try something out, like a social advertising campaign or a new referral program, and use the results to help you perfect the formula.
“Bad decisions guide you in the right direction,” Celeste says.
This depends on good feedback. Make sure that when you experiment, your results are measurable.
This means learning how to decipher the analytics menu on your website, or asking every single one of your clients where they heard about you from.
Even though this adds more work to your plate, it is much better than feeling through the dark, and making decisions based on no data or feedback.
Does Stability Kill the Fear of Failure?
Fear of failure is also important further down the road.
When you are established in your business, the fear of failure has a funny way of sneaking back in.
Stability is the desired outcome for so many solopreneurs and wellness practitioners. Stability allows us to pay off debt, take a well-needed vacation, or rely on word-of-mouth for new clients instead of expensive marketing.
However, stability can easily lead us to an undesirable outcome: complacency.
Complacency can make us shove off ideas for growing our business, like new popular social media channels or booking systems
It can make us hesitant to outsource parts of our business. It can lead us to expect unrealistic results from our social media managers, or bring other aspects of our business back in-house – even if we don’t have the capacity to do a good job.
These are the patterns of a fear of losing stability.
The risk of this may not be obvious day to day. The world keeps on turning. Your competitors continue to evolve, and your clients change how they interact with the digital world.
So don’t hang up that lab coat. Keep on innovating and finding out what works best. The experiment never ends, and there is plenty of fulfillment and joy to be found in that.
Embrace the Fear of Failure With Us
We hope that this article doesn’t make embracing the fear of failure seem like a walk in the park.
It’s difficult to reframe how you think. After all, our fear is there for good reason. It can keep us away from harm.
But it can also be difficult to know how much fear is reasonable when it’s just you and the four walls around you.
Being a solopreneur or wellness practitioner shouldn't be a solo endeavor. That’s why we created Symmetry Collective – as a place for like-minded people to share ideas and motivation.
It’s also a place to embrace the fear of failure together.
Interested in learning what we are all about?