In order to succeed, you must learn to get over the fear of failure. Great. Mission accomplished! I’ve come to terms with not only the fear of failing but also with failure itself. To me, failure is no big deal. What terrifies me? Success. And judging by some figures I just read, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
Though the numbers seem to be in constant debate, one infographic I found suggested that the start-up closure ratio is a daunting 11-1 with only about 7% of those start-up closures actually failing and roughly 93% just up and walking away. Now I’m sure that there are various reasons for this, and a good majority of those closures might be people salvaging what they can and knowing when to throw in the towel. I would also bet that another good portion of these people weren’t prepared to manage their success. Having spent the last few months in my shoes, I can tell you firsthand that the thought of walking has crossed my mind more than once. Yet here I sit.
Many new business owners complain that they run into naysayers and people constantly telling them why something can’t be done. While a lot of the fuel for Green Banana’s original fire stemmed out of rebellion from a “you’ll never,” I have been otherwise fortunate to maintain a very strong support system of encouragement. It’s seldom that I hear “Charity, there’s no way,” “Charity, that can’t be done” or “Are you crazy? That will never work.” Instead, I tend to throw out ideas that are received with enthusiasm and then move forward gingerly, optimistic that my harebrained ideas might actually produce some positive results.
Because of this approach, what I’ve noticed in the last year and a half is what I like to call the “If you build it, they will come” concept (affectionately borrowed from the movie Field of Dreams). It’s a simple theory right? If you build a brand that you believe in, sell products and services that people need and then effectively market those products and services to people that you know need them, the end result will be interested buyers. I’ve tested this theory, as many of you have. Most of us can agree….it works!
When I started Green Banana I made a few strategic calls. Before I knew it, we were crankin’ out orders. Then, all of a sudden after a few months, we hit a wall. Ever heard the term Returns to Scale? This is another one of those simple concepts. We can only do so much with what we have before more resources are needed to take things to the next level. This might mean adding human capital or financial capital, but either way current modus operandi is only capable of a certain level of production and, therefore, also only capable of a certain level of return.
Moving forward was going to require some extra creativity, but most importantly a deeper commitment. So naturally I buckled down, said let’s do whatever it takes, and made it happen! … Or not.
For months, I told myself that I didn’t have the tools to go forward when, in reality, every resource I needed was literally at my fingertips. Rather than blowing past that line in the sand between good and great, I brushed up against it and, when I got too close, I backed away. Why? Because failure is easy. So is staying right where I am. This is my comfort zone, and it’s measurable. I know what it looks like and, frankly, I like it here. Moving forward is uncharted territory. What if I don’t like it there? As entrepreneurs, we’re told over and over not to be afraid to fail, but seldom are we told not to be afraid of success. So many business owners I know are terrified of success and don’t even know it. Instead, they stay stuck in the unending fear cycle, never quite pushing past that line. We say we want to be successful, but the truth is we aren’t really sure what that looks like. So when we start to get to a point where it’s on the horizon, we let it slip away.
Sometimes I think that just as we confuse busyness for productivity, we also confuse success with meaning we have to put in 80 hours a week, make millions of dollars a year, drive the nicest cars and live in the nicest houses. Success might be these things, but you have to make that choice. Success is ultimately accomplishing your own goals in your own time. You get to choose what this looks like. As business owners and driven salespeople, we are competitive by nature so we tend to use comparison as a means of defining success. Truth is, if we sit down and decide what success is to us as individuals, it’s no longer an unknown and we can proceed without fear. Is it possible that the results might end up being different than we planned? Most definitely. Should we let that stop us from going after our full potential? Absolutely not.
Build and use your support system. Find people that have been there, done that, and have done it well. And, most of all, don’t be afraid of success. You worked hard for it. Embrace it!