5 Ways to Overcome Fear of Failure and Start the Business of Your Dreams

  •    Seattle-based marketing consultant and the owner of The Marketing Desks and author of 365 Days of Marketing.

Don't worry, it happens to all of us. Most entrepreneurs experience a moment of fear before starting a business.

For some, fear of failure is easily pushed aside; however, for as many as 30% of U.S. and more than 35% of U.K. and Canadian entrepreneurs, the fear that their new business will fail is so strong that it has the power to derail their plans. Here are five ways you can put the fear of failure into perspective so it doesn't stop you from starting the business of your dreams.

5 Ways to Put Fear Aside Before Launching Your Business


Visualization is the deliberate act of creating images in your mind or even in visual or written forms that envision what will happen as a result of taking specific action. It includes mental visualization exercises, writing down goals and plans, pros and cons, visiting successful businesses like the one you want to build and more. When you imagine what your business will be like, how it will change the world and how it could change your own life, it's likely that what you stand to lose by not starting your business outweighs potential risks.

Plus, visualization can help at every step. While an overall fear of failure can be overwhelming, when it comes to the risks associated with only the specific actions that need to be completed in the near future, you may find that visualizing just the next step, or the next day or week robs fear of its strength.

Education and Research

Knowledge is power and you can minimize or eliminate potential risks by drawing on the expertise and experience of others. Before you start your business, research and educateyourself on topics like:

  • Business startup checklists

  • Expert tips for starting and operating a business

  • Common mistakes startup and small business owners make (and how to fix them)

  • Commonly overlooked startup and small business challenges

  • Things business owners wish they had known when starting a business – and so on

As you dive into research you're going to discover that many other entrepreneurs have faced-off against the same fears you have about starting your business. Here are just a few of the rich repositories of business knowledge and free resources available online to help you overcome obstacles as an entrepreneur:

  • SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) – SBA loans, counseling and other small business assistance, including national and regional resources, classes and workshops

  • SCORE - Free small business resources, advice and mentoring, including local chapters

  • LinkedIn – B2B (business to business) social networking and professional resources, including a vast library of online tutorials and videos accessible by members with professional (paid) accounts

  • TED Talks – Inspirational and instructional videos from other entrepreneurs and successful professionals

A Mentor or Coach

You might already know successful entrepreneurs who would be happy to offer advice, brainstorm ideas, discuss challenges as they arise and cheer you on as a mentor or coach. Having a mentor can also minimize the feeling of isolation many entrepreneurs experience when they feel like they are going it alone. Not sure where to start? Check out the seven ideas this Entrepreneur.com article suggests.

Local Networking Groups

Joining or even starting a networking group with other business owners and entrepreneurs can connect you with people who are facing (or have already overcome) the same fears and challenges you are experiencing. These peers can be great sounding boards for your ideas and they can offer expert advice based on their own experiences in starting a business in your city. You may find great networking opportunities within your local Chamber of Commerce, where you are likely to find other business owners who have successfully built businesses in your region.


Many people think of professional counseling as a resource only accessed after something bad has happened, such as a personal tragedy or relationship problems. If fear of business failure is holding you back, something already has happened; it is happening. You may be able to find a good counselor from personal recommendations; however, you might not feel comfortable asking around. The National Board for Certified Counselors can give you a list of licensed counselors in your area. Professional counselors can help you put fear in its proper perspective and strengthen your mental, emotional and physical ability to manage fear so that it doesn't have the power to disable you or derail forward motion.

Fear of failure is normal. It can even be healthy in motivating you to fine-tune your business model before you launch your business, but it doesn't have to stop you in your tracks. Use these tactics to put fear in its place.

Don’t know where to start? Get guidance on common hurdles with the Pre-Launch Membership.