Overcoming the Fear of Failure in Female Business!

- March 30, 2012 4 MIN READ

Since co-founding The League of Extraordinary Women in late 2011, I have witnessed first hand the hunger and strength of Australia’s female entrepreneur movement.

Statistics show, that between 1992 and 2007 the number of women who have chosen self employment has risen by a huge 33%. Women are increasingly taking advantage of the benefits of owning their own business, but there’s still a large gap that needs to be addressed if we want to share an equal space in the business arena. Even with such a dramatic increase, only 31.5% of small business operators are female.

Tackling this short fall head on we have to ask the question, in a world full of equality and opportunity, why is this percentage so low?

Fear of failure is one of the most common reasons preventing outwardly confident woman from taking the leap into the business owner forum.  Fear is a natural emotion but can be either positive or negative. Fear only becomes a negative emotion when the subject allows the fear to hinder their potential. Fear can bread indecision and doubt; these negative emotions will always lead to a drop in confidence. Without confidence how can one expect to make the monumental decision to undertake a business venture? Confidence and strength are essential in business from the off-set.

As women, we have a tendency to underestimate our potential. With our many responsibilities including the possibility of raising a family, it’s hard to contemplate abandoning the security of our 9-5 jobs to venture out on our own.

I have made many mistakes in business but I feel that each of these mistakes have given me knowledge. Most of my success came from just taking action, it’s that simple, you just need to take that first step and do it!

Step out of your comfort zone

Starting a business can be an ‘uncomfortable’ experience and to succeed you need to enjoy the challenges.  Playing it safe is not an option. Only those who can learn to enjoy each challenge will achieve their goals.  I share my intentions and goals with those around me, this gives me a sense of accountability, and the shame in saying something I don’t act on, pushes me into action. If you were to walk into my office you would see that I have my goals list proudly positioned on the wall next to my computer. It’s easy… Just say it! Goal setting allows you to grow and to learn simultaneously, the more mistakes you make, the more you learn , allowing you to reach your goals faster.

List the sacrifices you need to make to commit to your business.

To start a business from scratch and to make it work takes sacrifices. How much do you want it?  If your desire is strong enough, missing out on a night out or a weekend away will not be a problem.  Be prepared to work hard!  List the things in your life that you will need to change, and when you need to change them.  Adding a time limit not only adds a sense of urgency but helps you to stay focused on the task at hand. Always remember that short term hard work means long term gain.  Setting yourself mini rewards along the way will also allow you to feel more positive about having to sacrifice.

Believe in yourself

There may be times when things are not going to plan and this leads to worry and you may even contemplate failure.  This leads to a drop in confidence.  To get this confidence back, you must focus your attention on your outcome, or your purpose.  Don’t allow negative thoughts or feelings to push their way in! Simply concentrate on what you want to achieve and imagine yourself always performing at 110%.  Failure should not be an option.

Learn to juggle your responsibilities

By learning to manage your time, you will be able to set yourself up with a positive work/life balance. This in turn will help you to stay focused and motivated.  Draw up a timetable to plan your work and personal responsibilities.  Having a clear breakdown of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. Being organised will prevent panic and lower the chance of you making rash decisions.

Look failure in the eye

Don’t be scared.  Understand that to achieve the ‘high’ you must face the ‘lows’.  Understanding that tough times will take place allows you to tackle the issues head on.  A good exercise to help prepare for opening a business is to list all possible risks, obstacles and challenges you may face (alternatively a SWOT analysis).  Pre-empt the issues before they happen, this way when you hit one you were already expecting it and can therefore handle it more effectively.  Make a plan A, B & C for each situation.

Ladies, it’s definitely time for change.  As the population of inspirational females continues to grow we will start to see the gender gap in business closing.  Businesses owned by females have less external debt, are more profitable and are profitable much earlier than those owned by men.  The signs are positive.  We need to embrace the successes and failiures that business ownership throws at us. My advice is to stay confident and above all else believe that we can do it, because we can!


Liz Atkinson

Founder of Zest Possibiltiies / Co founder of League of Extraordinary Women