A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Worried About Failing? Read This…

Fear of failure
This is a guest post from Vik Tantry of There’s Money Everywhere.

Failure. It’s a scary word. It means that we made a bad decision, and we fear that our failure will reflect poorly on us as a person. But as we all know, failure is a part of life. Without failing, we’ll never succeed in a big way.

Things Are Rarely As Bad As They Seem

At the beginning of 2009, I was working at a large investment bank during the depths of the financial crisis. I really disliked my job, but felt I didn’t have any alternatives. To me, banking was the only path to financial and societal success. As the economy worsened, the bank had to reduce costs, and in April of 2009, I lost my job.

At first, I felt very insecure. The market was terrible, and I felt that I’d never get another job. For the next couple of weeks, I felt very depressed. How was I going to get my life back on track?

This insecurity made me very uncomfortable, and for a few weeks, I wasted a lot of time and energy thinking about everything that could go wrong. What I should have done was to get over my concern, and instead focus on coming up with constructive solutions.

Fortunately, I soon realized that I was not thinking rationally. There are always opportunities; it’s just a question of seeking them out.

With this new mindset, I resolved to turn things around. My first step was to explore my passions and see if there was a way to make money from them.

I started by identifying a major passion: financial literacy. During the crisis, many people had asked me for advice on how to manage their money during this difficult time. I realized that there was probably a large market of individuals looking for similar information.

So I decided to create a series of video tutorials teaching people how to think about money. My idea was to release the videos on YouTube and then use them to generate leads for various financial products, including credit cards and mortgages.

The strategy was successful. Many of the videos received tens of thousands of hits, and I started receiving substantial traffic to my site. A large percentage of this traffic was customers looking for new financial products, so I benefited from a high conversion rate.

Encouraged by this success, I decided to expand the business by moving into search engine optimization. I started building a network of niche sites dedicated to personal finance topics. Eventually, I used my newly-found search engine optimization skills to expand into other markets.

As it turned out, I am now on a path to being more successful than I ever would have been in banking. The best part is that I actually get up in the morning looking forward to my day.

When we sense failure, we tend to magnify its impact on our lives. We think that it’ll be the end of the world. The truth is that most of the time, failure isn’t nearly as bad as we think it is. We’re simply afraid, and the first step towards overcoming that fear is recognizing that it exists.

Become Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

When I started out on my own, I was filled with a huge number of conflicting emotions. While I was excited to be my own boss, I also had a lot of worries. The biggest worry was that I wouldn’t be bringing in money every week. Sure, I had some savings, but they weren’t going to last forever. What was I going to do?

One way to reduce this emotional overload (if you can) is to take things a little bit slower. Take one baby step that makes you feel slightly uncomfortable. Take a little time to adjust. Then take another baby step. This is the best way to successfully adapt to positive but difficult changes.

This approach helped me tremendously in my own business. I started small, focusing on one site that brought in a relatively insignificant amount of revenue. However, my new knowledge and confidence helped me scale the business, step by step. Had I tried to move too fast, I would have most likely ended up failing.

Confront Your Fears Early

It’s good to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. However, I eventually took it to another extreme. Instead of feeling worried all the time, I instead chose to neglect my concerns, saying that “everything would work out.” As a result, I was far too relaxed about things and didn’t accomplish my goals quickly enough.

But once I realized that I needed to start paying the bills, I understood that confronting my legitimate concerns (without worrying excessively) was the only way I was going to make progress.

Many people do not want to confront their fears. After all, it’s easy to think that if we don’t deal with our concern, it’ll eventually just go away. But this is a mistake. If you are worried about something now, chances it’s going to keep bothering you until you try to fix it. So fix it now! Don’t delay; act as soon as possible and work to solve the problem.

This is true in all aspects of life. When people start companies, they constantly worry about success – is my product going to work, will I ever make money? Instead of worrying about it, find a solution. That’s the only way to conquer your fear.

The good news is that eventually I caught on. I realized that I needed to strike a balance: addressing my concerns without wasting energy fretting and fuming. It was only after achieving this that my business really started to grow.

A Final Thought

When I lost my job, I was pretty concerned that I would never make it as an entrepreneur. Those fears haven’t fully gone away. But it helps to know that I’m making progress. There will always be setbacks, but they are just obstacles in the path to success. To quote Michael Jordan:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Erica’s note: Thank you, Vik, for this great post! Go check out Vik’s blog for more awesome ways to make money.

I’d also like to wish all of you–my loyal readers–a happy Thanksgiving if you are here in the United States! I am truly honored to have you along for this great ride, and I thank you for being a part of my community. I’ll be back next week with another blog post!

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After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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