September 18, 2015
We hear a lot about fear of failure, and most people think that’s the kind of fear that causes a new business to fail, but they’re wrong.
Fear of failure is the reason why most businesses never get started. It keeps people from ever pulling the trigger on their new business idea. And a business that never gets started doesn’t have a chance to fail.
No, the subconscious fear that will kill your NEW business isn’t fear of failure…it’s fear of success.
Being in the web design business for nearly two decades, and volunteering as a SCORE mentor for 4 years, I’ve seen a lot of new business owners with this subconscious fear. I’ve even had it myself!
Once a new business owner conquers their fear of failure and launches their new business, building a website is usually one of their first major undertakings.
Having a website to show people and promote their new business makes it seem more real and tangible. It’s a good milestone.
However, it’s usually during the web design process where their fear of success reveals itself in the form of procrastination, often disguised as perfectionism.
There are certain things that are required for a website to be effective, such as fast loading pages, ease of use, clear messaging, and a professional design.
Without these fundamental elements, a website won’t generate much or any sales. These are things worth worrying about.
The perfectionist, on the other hand, fixates on things that aren’t critical to the successful launch of their new website, such as font size and family, image choice and placement, different shades of the same color, small text changes, etc.
I’m not referring to fixing things that are wrong, look bad, or don’t match the original design. That’s part of the development process.
I’m specifically referring to change requests that aren’t significant or necessary to launch the site so it can start generating revenue.
Font choices, images, colors, and text often make a difference when it comes to conversion rates on a website, but we have a scientific process for determining that and the website needs to be launched and have traffic on it before we can do it.
I could write a whole newsletter on how to use A/B testing to improve conversion rates, but that’s not the topic of this week’s newsletter. We’re talking about fear of success, so let’s get back to it…
Web design perfectionism isn’t the only way to spot a fear of success.
As a SCORE mentor, I met with several people who spent months or YEARS writing their business plans, deciding on the perfect business or domain name, incorporating (before they had any revenue), conducting market research, reading books, or doing pretty much anything to avoid selling their product or service. They always have “just one more thing to do” before they can start selling.
They justify these activities by convincing themselves that everything has to be perfect before they can start selling. If they don’t know everything there is to know and check off all the little tasks on their startup list, their business is doomed.
But most of these activities (especially those that take months or years) are just a means of procrastination because the one thing they fear the most is the one thing they can’t prepare for until it happens: the first sale.
Once money has changed hands, the business gets real, real fast. The pressure is on to deliver the goods and make the customer happy.
And if the new business owner does a good job, there will be another customer, and another, and another.
This is where all the “what if’s” come up. What if they aren’t satisfied? What if they want their money back? What if they don’t like me?
You might think this is a fear of failure, but it’s a fear of success causing you to think of all the ways you can fail.
Being successful means more responsibility, more expectations, and a lot more pressure.
But it also means you’re helping more people, adding more value, and making a bigger difference in peoples’ lives and the world.
If you’re a diehard perfectionist and nothing is ever quite right, you’re most likely suffering from a fear of success. Recognize it for what it is and train yourself to fight that perfectionist urge.
You deserve to be successful. You’ve earned it. But you have to stop procrastinating and start focusing only on things that really matter.
Done is better than perfect.
Tell us what you think.