Halloween blog

What do Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Mark and Mo Constantine (Lush Cosmetics) all have in common? The answer is they have all failed. These successful entrepreneurs have all failed at one point or another in their career.

With Halloween just around the corner, it's the perfect time to look at the issue of fear. We all have things that we are afraid of – from spiders and snakes to confined spaces and darkness. But what about the fear of failure? Here at the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship, we have all come across people who have a business idea but are too afraid of failing to do anything about it.

Where does this fear of failure come from? Is it something we are born with? Well, apparently not. Scientists say that the only fears we are born with are the fear of loud, unexpected noises and the fear of falling. Every other type of fear, including the fear of failure, has been learned or developed over time.

This fear may have been caused by an event in our life – for example failing an exam at school or failing in sports. Nobody likes to fail but it is often our failures that make us stronger and lead to our future successes.

In my own experience I have been reluctant to try new things in the past for fear of failure. I hate to use the analogy of 'getting back on the horse' as it's so overused but it is actually relevant in this case.

I've always wanted to try horse riding but I was scared to, just in case I wasn't very good (or worse still – fell off!). A few months back an opportunity came up for me to try horse riding for the first time so I faced my fear, tried it and loved it!

Having said that, I did find myself in a predicament when both my feet came out of the stirrups and I was clutching onto the saddle for dear life! At one point I very nearly came off the horse but somehow I managed to pull myself back up. In spite of this experience I am still keen to try horse riding again!

I feel that working with students and being around entrepreneurial people encourages me to think and behave more entrepreneurially. When I have a new idea for an event or a marketing campaign, instead of thinking 'What if it doesn't work' I think 'Let's try it and see if it does work!'

The three entrepreneurs listed at the start of this blog have all failed but they have something else in common – they have all learned from their failure and become better business people because of it. Most successful entrepreneurs have failed at some point in their career but it is their ability to bounce back and learn from their mistakes that sets them apart.

So if you want to follow in the footsteps of the great entrepreneurs – don't let fear of failure hold you back. Surely it's better to try something and find it doesn't work than to spend your whole life wondering what could have been?

I'd like to leave you with a final thought from Cardiff Met graduate Fazannia Raja who is currently setting up a respite care hotel. Fazannia has been supported by the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship through the Countdown to Launch programme which enabled her to successfully pitch for start-up funding through our Santander collaboration.

'The fear of failing always crosses my mind but the reason I keep on trying is because I am aware of my strong points and my weaknesses. I can take constructive criticism and use it as a positive.

'I keep thinking I must at least give this business my best. I have never had a business, been a manager or up until less than a year ago had never thought I wanted to or could start my own business. I have more to gain at this present moment than lose so I will continue to work hard to be successful.'

Blog post by Lauren Davies, Entrepreneurship Coordinator.
October 2013.