Written for EO by David Disiere.
Fear of failure can have significant sway over entrepreneurs wanting to launch their own startups. But imagine what would be possible if failure were completely and utterly avoidable. Further, imagine what would be possible if failure did not hold anyone back.
I spent decades as a sort of an insurance vagabond, drifting from role to role. This path certainly gave me a much broader view of the industry, and the experience was invaluable for my development as a leader. But it was not easy. To this day, I come into the office ready to listen, observe, and learn because of the time I spent navigating the uncertainties and mistakes of those early days.
Accepting risk as part of entrepreneurship took time. Even now, it can be difficult to deal with ambiguity. But accepting risk as an inevitable part of starting a business is key to your success as an entrepreneur. It’s all in how you frame the challenges and learn to maximize your chances of success.
Here are the three steps to moving forward while factoring in that element of risk:
1. Know that uncertainty is different from risk.
People often mistake uncertainty for risk. While both terms relate to the “unknown,” there is at least one characteristic that makes risk much different: It can be quantified.
You do not build a business knowing you have a 90 percent chance of success; rather, you go into the venture knowing there will be some uncertainty involved. As economist Frank Knight puts it, uncertainty cannot be quantified and is not susceptible to measurement.
Because entrepreneurs often thrive in uncertain conditions in which the chance for success might not be clear but is not impossible, uncertainty can be a driver, not an obstacle.
2. Prepare thoroughly.
Even though 50 percent of small businesses fail within five years, entrepreneurs have the ability to prepare for the risks that might come their way.
Calculate how risk might affect you by conducting market research, tracking business trends and pulling together as much information as possible about the industry you are entering.
The goal is to mitigate your risk through learning and thorough preparation. That way, you can make informed decisions and take only the most well-thought-out chances without letting fear control your actions.
3. Embrace risk.
Because risk is inevitable, you are left with two options: Avoid it or embrace it. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to choose the latter; your ability to embrace anything that comes your way will make your entrepreneurial journey less intimidating. I would even go so far as to say it should be a part of your business strategy.
Failure can always teach you something valuable. As long as you are willing to learn, you are far less likely to make the same mistake again.
If you truly possess an entrepreneurial spirit and dream of starting your own business, the potential for failure will never keep you from pursuing your passions. Risk might give you a moment of pause, but the potential regret of not taking a chance should be the thing that keeps you going. Do not stop dreaming of ideas for your next venture. Trust me: A time will come to seize an opportunity for launch and make taking the chance more than worth it.
David Disiere is the founder and CEO of QEO Insurance Group, an agency that provides commercial transportation insurance to clients throughout the US. He has launched business endeavors in the real estate, oil and gas, agriculture and automotive sectors. David also works to help underprivileged children through the David & Teresa Disiere Foundation.
I am putting David’s quote about failure teaching us something valuable into a guide I’ve written titled, “The Awesome, Positive Role of Rejection and Failure in Business, Success and Life!”