Fears Are Sort Of Bogus

If you plug in “Top Ten Fears” into any browser, you’ll get different lists from different sources. What’s on the IBM list of Top Ten Fears isn’t the same as what’s on the Live Science list of Top Ten Fears, and what’s on those two lists isn’t the same as what’s on any of the other lists of Top Ten Fears you’ll find on the Internet or in books. Of course, there are some things that seem to appear on every list I read: speaking in front of people, insects, dogs, and flying.

In business, there’s a list of Top Ten Fears as well and just as with the other list, no two lists are the same with the exception of two fears that seem to make it to every list: Fear of Failure and Fear of Success.

The Fear of Failure is one that everyone understands. No one likes to fail at what they love best regardless of what that might be. No one likes to be told by the marketplace that there’s no market for what they have to offer … not even a niche market.

According to government statistics in the U.S., 75% of business start-ups fail in the first year of operation, another 64% fail in their second year, and 56% fail in their third year. Those are pretty hard statistics when you think you’ve got the next revolutionary product or the best business idea since Ford built cars and sliced bread was introduced to housewives back in the day.

What’s worse is that in some industries, the fourth year isn’t much better with 63% of information start-ups, 55% of transportation and communication, 53% of retail and construction, and 51% of manufacturing start-ups failing. The odds seem to be against the success of start-ups, and more so in some industries than in others.

Should you give in to the fear of failure? Of course not. If everyone gave in to the fear of failure, there’s be no businesses in the real world!

So where do businesses generally go wrong?

In Business For The Wrong Reasons

Someone, or a whole lot of someones, told the entrepreneur that they had a surefire success on their hands and to start a business. It’s possible the product in question has the potential to be a surefire success, but unless the person who came up with the product is passionate about being in business, he or she is better off licensing the product to a large corporation and waiting for those quarterly royalty checks to start rolling in.

In The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time

No matter how good a product or service may be, if you’re in the wrong place or you’re launching your business at the wrong time, it’s going to fall flat and cost you more money than it brings in. For example, don’t launch a burger joint that advertises 100% beef burgers in a small town that’s largely vegan or vegetarian. Don’t open a high-end retail shop where the economy is so depressed that people are barely paying their must-pay bills such as rent, utilities and groceries.

Pressure Caused By Time And Money Commitments

Years ago, someone said to me that I was lucky to be self-employed because it meant that I could work half-days. I laughed and said that half-days weren’t all they were cracked up to be, and those 12 hours really ate up a lot of my free time. Being in business for yourself, even in the arts industry, means that you’ll be working more than the traditional 8 hours a day 5 days a week. If you think the customers, money and business awareness rolls in all on its own, you’re going to fail. And seeing that most businesses fail in the first two years of operation, you better have enough money to cover your personal expenses as well as the business expenses for those first two years until you decide if you’re going to keep working at it.

Falling In Love With Your Own Business

There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about your business, but beware of being in love with your business. What’s the difference? If you’re passionate about your business, you’ll give your all but if you’re in love with your business, you won’t be able to see where you’re going wrong. You’ll make excuses for mistakes. You’ll overlook problems. You might even think everyone else is wrong. Be passionate about your business, but be able to step away from the business and see it objectively and reasonably.


It’s true that no one can be all things to all people and it’s the same in business. No matter what your business happens to be, it can’t be all things to all potential customers. No matter what your business is, make sure you have a mission statement, a vision statement, and a values statement that you refer to on a regular basis, and update your business plan every year to keep you current and on track.

Come back next Tuesday when the topic we’ll be discussing is the Fear of Success. You might laugh now, but you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn about how you do business once you understand what’s behind the Fear of Success.

Elyse Bruce


Strategic Marketing


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