7 Ways That Fear of Failure in Business Crushes Your Potential

12 min read
Oct 24, 2021

Think that serial entrepreneurs and business owners don’t fear failure?

Think again!

The fear of failure in business is perhaps the most pervasive underlying issue amongst entrepreneurs and business owners.  But, while it is pervasive, it is rarely ever talked about. 

As a result, so many people in business think it’s just them, and they never get to addressing their fear.

With that said, we’re sharing 7 ways that the fear of failure crushes your business potential.  Think of these 7 potential crushing problems as side effects of the fear of failure.

Moreover, if the fear of failure is a challenge for you, then you probably already experience one of these side effects to at least some degree.

However, if you do see one of these side effects in yourself, then take it as a positive!  Side effects are there to tell you that there is a problem.  If they weren’t there, then you would never realize that the underlying fear is there!

With that said, check out these 7 ways that the fear of failure in business crushes your potential.  If you see one of these problems or side effects in yourself, take it as a signal!  

Then, empower yourself to make the necessary changes to overcome the underlying fear!


Do Entrepreneurs Fear Failure?


Do entrepreneurs fear failure?

Is this even a question?

Yes!  Just about every successful entrepreneur and business owner at every level has feared failure at one point or another in their career.  Whether they run a Fortune 500 Company or a small business, they likely experience this specific fear on a regular basis.

While it may occur in different people at different degrees of severity, everyone feels it at one point or another in business.

We guarantee that if you ask a business mentor or role model of yours if they have experienced the fear of failure at least once before, that they will absolutely say yes.

And, it makes sense why the fear of failure is so common in entrepreneurship.  When you consider all of the unknowns that come with running a business, the attention, and the resources at stake, it is easy to see why!

Unfortunately, the media oftentimes makes it appear as if successful people have no fear, or that they don't face the same mental challenges as people like you and I.  Even worse, the fear of failure is almost a taboo topic to talk about in business, yet it is such a pervasive problem

But, successful people are real people, just like everyone else.  Therefore, they have the same innate fears as every other person.

The only difference between the successful entrepreneur or business owner and others in terms of the fear of failure is that they have learned to overcome it.

And, by overcoming the fear of failure, it isn't necessarily that they completely eliminate the fear all together.  Instead, they just know how to manage it!

With that said, your job then is to build the same kind of self-esteem that allows you to overlook the fear of failure.  While you may not be able to completely get rid of it, you can learn to look past it!


Motivated By Fear of Failure


What Are the Reasons Why People Fear Failure?


With fear of failure such a common challenge among entrepreneurs and business owners, it begs the question... Why do so many fear failure in the first place?

Some of the most common reasons that people in the business world fear failure include:

  1. Disappointing loved ones and strangers
  2. Wasting time and resources
  3. Not living up to expectations

First off, so many entrepreneurs want to be successful not just for themselves, but for their loved ones as well. For them, they jumped into the game just as much for others as they did for themselves.

For these people, reaching higher levels in their business can feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders.  As a result, they fear failure because they don't want to disappoint themselves or their loved ones. 

Not only do many entrepreneurs fear disappointing the people close to them, but also people that they don't even know.  

Thanks to social media sites like LinkedIn, many people fear that if their new business venture fails, that they'll disappoint strangers on the other side of the screen that they don't even know!  While it might seem taboo, fearing disappointing strangers is more common than you would think.

Second, there are many entrepreneurs who have no choice but to start their business with little to no backup.  By backup, we mean resources or some other business idea to fall back on.

As a result, they fear putting all of their resources and energy into an idea only for it to fall through in the end.  They see the worst-case scenario in their minds of them being left dry with absolutely nothing to show for it.

And lastly, the best of the best entrepreneurs set the bar high for themselves in terms of expectations.  While this is a good thing, it undoubtedly can cause fear of them not living up to those expectations.  This, of course, then results in a fear of failure.

The best entrepreneurs of all time believe that their grand visions are attainable, but those visions don't come without a fear of not being able to turn them into reality.  So goes the life of a successful entrepreneur!

While there are certainly many other reasons why serial entrepreneurs and business owners fear failure, these are just some of the most common ones.

If you already know that the fear of failure is a challenge for you, consider asking yourself the question... "Why am I so afraid to mess up?".

Knowing the answer to that question is one of the keys that tells you how to overcome fear.


Side Effects That the Fear of Failure Has on Your Business


Unfortunately, the fear of failure forces a lot of business owners who have endless potential into strict boxes that are hard to break out of.


Because, the fear of failure has so many side effects that crush business potential.

And, the worst part is that these side effects are often normalized in the business world, making it difficult for people to realize that they are a result of them having the fear.

However, there is one excellent positive of the side effects of fear of failure in business.  And that is that side effects help you realize that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Just like when you get sick with the flu, the side effects are what tell you that you are sick.  Once you realize the side effects, you can start making changes to battle the flu.

In the exact same way, when you are sick with the fear of failure, the side effects will tell you that you have a genuine, underlying fear.  Then once you become aware of those side effects, you can then start to overcome the fear!

On the flip side, if you didn’t see that you had one of the side effects, then you might never know that you have a deep rooted fear of failure.  Therefore, it would be extremely difficult to ever achieve success!

There are always several angles to look at things from.  So, when it comes to the effects of fearing failure, choose to look at them as guideposts towards success!  Use them as a tool to help you recognize the fear of failure that you have with your own business.

Now without further ado, we are sharing 7 of the most potential-crushing side effects of fearing failure.

If you spot one of these side effects in you, know that it is a good sign that you have a deeper fear of failure.  Then, you can get to work on overcoming that fear so that you can live up to your fullest potential in business.


Do Entrepreneurs Fear Failure?


1. Lacking Assertiveness With Prospects


The most clear sign and side effect that you have an underlying fear of failure is that you aren't assertive with your sales prospects and leads.  

Not only is it the most clear sign and side effect, but it is also one of the most disastrous in terms of crushing your business potential.

When people are afraid of failing, they think that playing things safe will protect them.  And, they play it safe by not trying to push their prospects into a sales deal.

While one should never be pushy in business, one MUST be assertive if they want to close deals.

Why is lacking assertiveness so damaging for business potential?

In short: When you are assertive, you are essentially in control of the sales process.  And, believe it or not, prospects unconsciously appreciate it when you are assertive.  

Because when you are assertive, you are more straightforward.  Being more straightforward ultimately helps the prospect solve their pain points in less time, which is the greatest win of all for them!

Take a moment and ask yourself.... Am I not asserting myself enough in the sales process?

If your answer is yes, then know that it might be a side effect of an underlying fear of failure.  And, if you don't jump on that, then it will be nearly impossible for you to reach your full business potential.


2. Speaking Instead of Listening


How many times have you been in an argument with someone, and you knew that you were right?  Not only did you know that you were right, but you also knew that the person you were arguing with knew that you were right!

As a result of them knowing that you were right, they decided to defend themselves by going off on you with their words.  By that, we mean that they did way more talking than they did listening!

This exact same situation happens all the time in business: When an entrepreneur feels like they are going to fail in a situation, they resultantly put up a shield of words.  Unconsciously, they think that if they talk more, it will somehow protect them from failure itself.

However, in any situation that you try to use words as protection, they will never guard you from falling through!

With that being said, another one of the most obvious signs that somebody is afraid of failure is if they are always talking and never listening.

In order to protect themselves from potential failure, they start spewing words out.  Even if they don't make sense or do nothing to improve the situation, they don’t stop talking!  

You'll most commonly see people use their words for defense when they think they are failing a sales pitch.

The more you talk and less you listen, the greater the odds that you have an underlying fear of failure.


Fear of Failure Entrepreneurship


3. Always Changing Your Business Plan


Successful entrepreneurs never claim to have all the answers.

But, that doesn't stop them from making business plans and then sticking to them.

That is, at least, if they don't have an underlying fear of failure!

If you see someone in business who seemingly constantly changes their plans, then odds are that they have a fear of failure.

When someone is afraid to fail, they're always looking for potential faults in their plans that might cause them problems.  In fact, they spend too much time looking for faults because they are so wrapped up in the idea that they will mess up.

As a result, when they find the teeniest tiniest potential fault, they completely alter their business plan to avoid that one spot. 

On the flip side, entrepreneurs who do not fear failure understand that their plan is never going to be full proof.  As a result, they spend less time worrying about what could go wrong and more time taking action.  If problems arise, they address them and move on.


4. Your Business Life Overtakes Your Personal Life


Here's the thing... Every successful entrepreneur who has ever existed will tell you that, in order to reach your full potential, you need to make sacrifices.

By that, they mean that you will have to sacrifice things like being in your comfort zone for taking risks.  Additionally, you will have to sacrifice free time for working time.  And, these are just a few of the ways that you have to sacrifice!

However, there is a fine line between making sacrifices and letting business take over your life and well-being.

Unfortunately, the fear of failure can be all consuming.  When it's high, it can be extremely challenging to have any peace of mind in your personal life outside of work.

Furthermore, if you have an extremely difficult time balancing your life outside of business, then take a strong look at your mindset and ask yourself if you fear failure.

Remember, while every entrepreneur must make sacrifices in their personal life, that doesn't mean that business should consume their entire life!  If you feel like you're at the point where business has infiltrated your mind 24/7, then perhaps you have a deep-rooted fear of failure.


Fear of Failure When Starting a Business


5. Drawing Out the Length of Your Sales Cycle


When you were a kid and had to do something scary like go to the dentist or get a shot, what did you do to soothe yourself?

If you were like most kids, you probably stalled.  In your mind, going and hiding in a closet where your parents couldn't find you would run up the clock so that you wouldn't have to face your fears.

Stalling probably never worked when you are a kid, and it certainly doesn't when you are an entrepreneur.

Believe it or not, but adults use the exact same stalling tactic that kids do when they have to do something scary.  More specifically, they stall when they think that failure is only a matter of time away.

But, instead of going and hiding in a closet to run out the clock, they draw out the length of their sales cycle.  In their mind, if the cycle is longer, then there is less time in between them and their potential downfall.  While it does nothing to actually alleviate the potential issue, it does soothe them in the moment.

Therefore, increasing the length of the sales cycle is another one of the most common ways that people deal with their fear of failure.  

Instead of shortening up their cycle to a matter of weeks, they increase it to a matter of months.  Not only does this do nothing to help them avoid potential failure, but it also decreases the odds that they close deals and achieve business growth.


6. Spending Too Much Time on Personal Development


Anyone who wants to achieve business success needs to have motivation to do it.  The process is simply too challenging for people not to have motivation.

However, some people use motivation and personal development as a scapegoat to them actually working on their business plans.  The people who are most prone to doing so are those afraid of failure.

Simply put: Motivation is not enough for success.

Motivation + action = success.

If you find yourself spending a seemingly endless amount of time trying to motivate and develop yourself but never a whole lot of time actually applying yourself, then you might have an underlying fear of failure.

We're not saying not to work on personal motivation or development.  Instead, just don't think that it is a replacement for putting in the hard work.

Motivation without action could be stemming from the crushing fear of failure!


7. Telling People Not to Expect Anything


Ask yourself if you have ever done this before: You tell someone that you are currently working on a new business plan or start-up.  While they are really excited for you, you tell them not to set any big expectations, because you're not anticipating anything major to happen.  

There are many successful business owners out there who chose to tell people about their business plans.  Then there are others who keep their plans to themselves.  And, neither one is necessarily better or worse than the other.

But, when someone tells you about their plans but talks them down as if they are bound to fail, then they are only doing so because they genuinely fear failure.  Regardless of their situation, that is never a good sign!

Because they think that failure is bound to happen, they try to keep the expectations of those around them low.  In a way, it validates their opinion that they are going to fail, which makes them feel comfortable.

Not only is telling people to keep their expectations low an obvious sign of fear of failure, it's also just plain sad!  The only thing worse than fearing failure is preparing others to expect you to fail.

With that being said, do you ever find yourself talking down your own plans?  If so, dig a little deeper to try and uncover if there is some other underlying problem… perhaps a deep-rooted fear of failure?


Can a Business Overcome Fear of Failure?


Final Thoughts on How The Fear of Failure Effects Your Potential


Remember, all successful entrepreneurs experience the fear of failure.  More likely than not, they experience it for much of their career at varying degrees!  

But, unlike others, they just know how to tame that fear to not let it crush their potential.

You too can overcome fear of failure to become the best entrepreneur version of yourself.

The way to get on that track is to start recognizing the fear of failure in yourself by analyzing if you have one of the above side effects.  

While these side effects crush your potential, they are also a guidepost that help you recognize the fear in yourself.  And, recognizing that you have the fear is the first step to overcoming it.

With that being said, if you’ve made it to the end here, then you are already on your way to overcoming your fears and living up to your fullest potential in business!

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