When billionaire Sara Blakely was growing up, her father would often ask her the same question at dinnertime, “What have you failed at this week?”

Known for every woman’s favorite shapewear, Spanx founder, and CEO, Blakely’s embrace of failure made her the youngest (41) self-made female billionaire in America.

“My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail. The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

When you come across a great idea for a side business doesn’t it make your heart beat a little faster with the urge to pursue it?

It’s exciting to think about the possibilities and what it would be like to put yourself to the test and see if you could make a go of it. The thought of using your energy, hard work and talent to your own benefit and the well -being of your family, instead of someone else’s, is so attractive that’s it’s practically irresistible.

Unfortunately for many women, self-doubt kicks in and they begin a quick process of abandoning a great idea before it even has a chance to get started.

Overcoming the fear of failure in business is the boldness of “faking it till you make it” mixed with research, combined with elbow grease and topped with opportunities.

Every successful woman before you has struggled with feelings of failure (including us) and we’ve come up with Five Ways to Overcome the Fear of Failure in Business:

Have Realistic Expectations

While diving into your new venture is absolutely the correct mindset, expecting that you’ll make a million dollars your first year is setting yourself up for major disappointment. You will not make a million dollars your first year.

In fact, you might just break even or you might only make a small profit. But don’t let that scare you – your first year is about grasping the opportunity, getting paid what you deserve and finding your stride.

Accept that it will be hard work, you’ll be simultaneously frustrated AND elated and you won’t have a mean boss breathing down your neck.

Set Attainable Goals

Setting goals is not an easy task. In fact, I like to call it the “Elusive Art of Goal Making,” because creating a set of goals is always a moving target – just slightly out of reach, completely necessary and always changing. Creating goals should be a SMART process:

S: Specific, M: Measurable, A: Achievable, R: Results-focused, T: Time-bound                                                        How to set goals for success -- and actually reach them

Specific: What will the goal accomplish? How and why will it be accomplished?

Measurable: How will you measure whether or not the goal has been reached (list at least two indicators)?

Achievable: Is it possible? Have others done it successfully? Do you have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, and resources to accomplish the goal? Will meet the goal challenge you without defeating you?

Results-focused: What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal? What is the result (not activities leading up to the result) of the goal?

Time-bound: What is the established completion date and does that completion date create a practical sense of urgency?

For example, a SMART goal might be aiming to host 4 Princess Tea Parties per month (1/per weekend). Is it specific? Yes. 4 per month. Measurable? Yes. Achievable? It’s possible, yes.

Have others done it? Yes (we have lots of stories about how we did more than one party per weekend). Do you have the necessary knowledge and skills? Yes and no.

You will have the Princess Tea Party Business Kit, but you might still be a little “green” in the experience area. Will it challenge you? Definitely. Results-focused: Purpose/Benefit: Gain more experience in presenting the parties, and gain some income. Time-bound? Yes. One month.

Setting SMART goals is a practical way to overcome of the fear of failing. If you have a plan, even just a small one, you can focus on the plan and not the path.

Watch for Part 2 coming up. We’re going to do the impossible.


References for this article:
Billionaire Sara Blakely says the secret to success is failure.

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