Overcoming the Fear of Failure: A Path to Success in Business

Starting a business, becoming your own boss, or even just trying to get a “side hustle” off the ground can be frightening. It is for me, and I’ve done it a couple times – with some success and some failure. 

But I don’t think it’s a fear of failure that holds most of us back. And I certainly don’t think it’s a fear of success – no matter how many gurus say it.

While having the right knowledge and tools is crucial, there’s often one huge barrier that most people struggle to overcome: the fear of looking stupid.

I’ve made some dumb decisions in my life. One such decision led to my future in-laws deciding I was not the man to marry their daughter – so they got us to indefinitely postpone our marriage one month before it was supposed to happen, and that was pretty much the end of that.

This was just after I graduated college. I was desperate to find a job that I could one day possibly financially take care of my future wife – who came from a very wealthy family. At the time she was an open-wheel race car driver (which is expensive). She had sponsorship, but her dad was still footing the bill for a lot of her expenses.

He told me it was my responsibility to pay for these expenses, but he knew I could not. My ego was hurt – I needed to get rich, and quick. That doesn’t usually lead to good decisions. 

My plans all came crumbling down. I had to figure out what I was going to do now – I moved back in with my parents. I didn’t even know what I wanted to pursue as a career anymore, my confidence was crushed. 

I felt pretty stupid – and I never wanted to feel that way again. 

But instead of dwelling on past failures, my focus needed to shift. I needed to understand the fear holding me back from pursuing my dreams.

The fear of being perceived as foolish, fear of embarrassment, fear of experiencing yet another setback can be paralyzing. It’s this fear that often keeps individuals from taking the leap into entrepreneurship or pursuing new opportunities.

It’s this fear that can keep us from making the MISTAKES WE MUST MAKE to succeed. Because no one starts as an expert – everyone has to learn, and we must be willing to admit we don’t know in order to learn. We must be willing to practice to get better.

Now it is essential to distinguish between legitimate concerns and irrational fears.

  • There are scammers who want to take advantage of you. There are “opportunities” that are garbage scams. 
  • It’s not irrational to be aware of the potential of people trying to take advantage of us. Some things are too good to be true. 
  • But scammers exist in every industry; allowing our fear to dictate our actions can hinder progress. The key lies in discerning genuine opportunities from deceptive schemes.
  • People who get scammed are usually looking for something quick and easy. They aren’t usually looking for something that requires effort, and the willingness to learn and practice new skills. 

Most people who are going to look down their noses at us, thinking we’re stupid for trying whatever it is we are trying, aren’t smarter than us. Most of them are just afraid to try something themselves – because they don’t want to be judged in the same way they are judging us.

No matter the business type, no matter the product, success stems from commitment, hard work, and resilience in the face of doubt and criticism.

Perseverance pays off. Whether it’s affiliate marketing, e-commerce, starting a restaurant, or any other venture, the principles of focus and dedication remain constant. 

The fear of failure is a common obstacle on the path to becoming our own boss. However, by confronting this fear and adopting a mindset of resilience and focus, we can get over setbacks and realize our goals. The journey to success may be challenging, but with the right guidance and determination, it’s entirely attainable.

Dive a little deeper into this concept and watch this video I’ve made. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, a seasoned marketer, or simply seeking inspiration to overcome obstacles, this video offers valuable insights into overcoming self-doubt, navigating the complexities of online business, and embracing the journey toward success with resilience and determination.

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13 responses to “Overcoming the Fear of Failure: A Path to Success in Business”

  1. Lauren Millman Avatar
    Lauren Millman

    Thank you for sharing such a thought-provoking post. I have to say, when I first started reading, I was initially disagreeing with your theory about the biggest barrier in business. I originally think it’s definitely either the fear of failure or success … however you sold me. I think there’s something to be said for not wanting to look stupid, and caring what other people think. I think that can be a phenomenal motivator, too… which you also point out. Thank you for sharing your experience as well. I may not have had that exact same experience but I can certainly relate to how you felt. Although it’s hard to put yourself out there for the risk of looking stupid, but when you can overcome that hurdle… big growth is on the other side of that. (And I say this probably to myself more than anyone else).

  2. You certainly embodied the looking stupid part with that first visual that I wish I could unsee lol.

    But yes, the fear of embarrassment is real. And I’d say that our normal every day lives now consist of discerning the genuine from the deceptive – and no, AI does not help in that matter. What you say is true, perseverance pays off.

    Nice job on the YouTube video BTW.

  3. Hey Nathan, great post. It sure seems there are more scams than anything legitimate these days . Kind of scary to invest in when you can’t be 100% sure of something. Just one more fear to compound on the others. Look forward to your next post.

  4. You managed to strike things at the heart of the matter when you mentioned fear of looking stupid.

    I have certainly heard of fear of failure and fear of success, and while I don’t disagree with them, but I think the fear of looking stupid makes a lot more sense.

  5. I can relate to the fear of looking stupid.

    I’m documenting my journey along the way to an online business. Part of my strategy is to report how I’m actually doing each week.

    Wow. It’s difficult not appearing smart! I can know and say I’m learning as I go, but sharing what actually stops me in my tracks is harder to be real about.

    If I were to stop, it would be because of fear of what others may think of me as I keep trying week after week.

    Well, that’s not going to happen!

    Here’s to another week!

    1. Good thing about putting yourself out there admitting you’re beginning something is that you put pressure on yourself not to quit – so it’s not easy to quit; helps put that fear to some positive use.

  6. Hi Nathan,

    How true you are when you said success stems from commitment, hard work, and resilience in the face of doubt and criticism. Absolutely, I am finding this to be so real. Embarking on the training in Affiliate System does take all of the above and boy is it worth it. I haven’t made any money yet but the experience and knowledge I’m gaining is fantastic.

    I was so impressed with your video. You definitely have on-screen charisma. Just a small point though; you mention a link to be able to order the book. I guess you’re still working on that.

    All the best and I look forward to following your progress.


    1. that’s in the YouTube description of the video, but I guess that wouldn’t show up on my blog page. I’ll get that added; thanks for letting me know

  7. Nathan, firstly, very important topic. I’ve suffered from this quite a lot in my life, not even within business but even when I was at school during exams, revision, seeing how my cousins were so much better than me all that kind of stuff. So I really understand the point that you’re making, and even now having worked 26 years raising three kids and, wife and family you still sometimes feel stupid with decisions that you make. And guess what it’s okay because we’re only human we haven’t lived life before so we’re not going to get everything right. The key for me is when we call it failure or mistakes or errors that’s what gives it the stigma. If we just see it as a learning opportunity i.e. it doesn’t work, tat way we can then try something new. Also, I love your video you present really well, and you’re quite natural in your presenting manner. I really enjoyed the blog really enjoyed the video. I wish you all the best well done. Thanks, Atif

  8. Nathan
    Fear is a funny thing, isn’t it? We often hear about the fear of failure, but the fear of looking silly caught me off guard. I can totally relate because that fear sometimes holds us back from diving into something we truly want to pursue – nobody wants to feel like they’re looking foolish. It makes me wonder, is there a dash of fear of both failure and success in the mix? Your point about confronting these fears and embracing a resilient, focused mindset really resonates. With that approach, we can overcome setbacks and reach our goals. Fantastic post! I’m eagerly anticipating your next one.

  9. Hi Nathan,
    Great post! Fear is evidently the biggest issue we deal with in business and life. I’ve made many business mistakes as well and felt like I was an idiot and others thought the same. I’ve overcome a lot of fear of what others think, but I find after overcoming fear there comes a circumstance in the future that brings fear back at a new level and then I have to conquer that new level of fear, and the cycle continues. I guess I’m saying fear will never be gone, we just become stronger and later face a new levels of fear, then get stronger when we’ve conquered each new level of fear. I find it’s a cycle that if we choose to face it and conquer at each level we get stronger wiser, more successful. OR we let fear win, stay weak and unfulfilled in life.
    Until your next post!

  10. Your story about the cancelled marriage drew me in. That was a hard lesson in feeling “stupid.” In-laws or future in-laws are gifted in that area, sometimes.

    I subscribed to your you tube channel!! I am reading the book you suggested: Positive Intelligence!

    1. awesome, I hope you enjoy the book

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