Fear of failure

20 02 2008

Fear of failure means that a third of would-be entrepreneurs may never get round to turning their idea into an actual business, according to a poll commissioned by Business Link, which found that more than 10 million people in the UK dream of packing in their jobs and starting their own business.  The survey found that the average worker spends three days a year day-dreaming about their future business from their desk, and one in five of those intending to start up a company plan to do so within 12 months.  The poll noted that motivations for starting a business include being unhappy at work (15%), to turn a hobby into a paid venture (25%), wanting to earn more money (37%) and wanting more freedom (40%) – it is interesting to compare that list with the results of the NCGE survey on motivations for would-be female entrepreneurs.

Some researchers would argue that failure can be a learning experience.  For example, Scott Shane urges readers of his blog to read Bounce by Barry Moltz.  He says that because people don’t like to talk about failure, there are far more stories about start-up success than start-up failure.  He days that the book “isn’t one of those feel-good-about-yourself-comeback-from-failure books that romanticize the notion of failure” but is about “accepting failure as a normal part of the process….. Given that entrepreneurs are more likely to fail than to succeed, and even those that succeed have some failures along the way, it’s really important for people to figure out how to deal with failure. To me, his points about one-hit-wonders, the timing of failure, the random walk in business, decision making, and the rarity of the redemption-from-failure stereotype, are particularly important and worth the cost of the book.  But I also suspect that many people will be comforted reading about Barry’s failures, which he courageously talks about”.

In addition, The Sunday Times has recently published two articles on business failure, looking at how to survive the emotional fallout of your firm going under and the practical steps that entrepreneurs can take to recover.

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