Fear of failure: How much is too much?

A woman from Amway smiles at the camera as she prepares to rappel down the side of a skyscraper to raise money for charity.
Ever gone bungee jumping? How about rappelling down the side of a building? Or even jumped off the high dive at a pool? There’s a tingling feeling you get when you are about to step off into nothing. It’s a combination of excitement and fear. For many entrepreneurs, this is a natural state. It’s a two-sided coin: Excitement about the possibilities and fear of failing. For anything that involves risk, some fear is healthy. But too much can be paralyzing. So how much is too much? Research suggests when this emotion becomes a major psychological barrier, it keeps people from taking the risks needed for their success.

‘Badge of honor’

Many would-be entrepreneurs hold themselves back for fear of failure, according to the latest Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report, The report, released earlier this year, is based on interviews with 50,000 men and women in 44 countries. Globally, only 47 percent of respondents were willing to take the risk of starting a new business. The percentage was much higher in the U.S. at 74 percent. U.S. respondents also had a lot of confidence in their business ideas (80 percent) and in their social support to launch a business (89 percent). Amway President Doug DeVos learned at an early age that risk goes hand-in-hand with reward. He credits his dad for setting the example. Amway Cofounder Rich DeVos was a serial entrepreneur who saw failure as the pathway to success. “I fail every day; there’s no getting around it,” Doug said in a recent interview with Thrive Global. “Failure is a badge of honor for me personally and, I hope, for our company. If we’re not failing, we’re not trying,”

Creating a mindset

There’s no question that a big part of being an entrepreneur is managing risk, because failure is inevitable. But it’s how we handle those failures that makes all the difference, said Vanessa Loder, entrepreneur, writer, inspirational speaker, and founder of vanessaloder.com. One of her strategies for creating a mindset that can manage fear is to ask these questions:
  • What did I learn from this situation?
  • How can I grow as a person from this experience?
  • What are three positive things about this situation?
“If we treat all failure as feedback, and we persist, it’s just one little bump on the road to success,” Loder said.

Understanding risk

Still, not all risks are the same. Starting a business from scratch can be a significant endeavor that requires a hefty investment of time and money. And 75 percent of business ventures don’t survive their first decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The good news is that there are other options for people who want to reduce their exposure. A popular one is direct selling. Many companies, like Amway, will offer training resources and guidance to make the most of your opportunity. Also, the company’s AmwayPromise offers you peace of mind if you decide being in business for yourself isn’t right for you. It builds assurances and customer protections into its business model by offering a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee, product warranties and service programs, and helpful customer service. Even with those backstops, failure is not impossible. The trick is to face it, learn from it and get ready for your next step off the diving board. Remember, you got this.

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