Are You Letting Fear Ruin Your Small Business’s Success?

If you’re like most small business owners, you’ve probably experienced one or more of the following fears:

  • fear of not being a good enough leader
  • fear of not gaining the necessary market share
  • fear of not having enough training to do the job right
  • fear of competition from Amazon or big box retailers
  • fear of not knowing how to proceed from one moment to the next
  • fear of going bankrupt and having to close down your business

When fear of failure keeps you from moving forward, follow these three recommendations from The Retail Doctor to turn your trepidation into positive changes:

1. Give yourself a break

“It’s easy to forget just how capable we are and that we can leverage techniques to move us toward our desires,” says Forbes. That’s why it’s important to view any setbacks you’ve experienced in the proper perspective: as valuable lessons that improve your knowledge and experience.

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley

Michael Jordan missed more than 9000 shots in his career, as well as losing almost 300 games. Twenty-six times he was trusted to take the game’s winning shot and missed. “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life,” Jordan said. “And that is why I succeed.”

When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel,” said Eloise Ristad. So when you feel tempted to knock yourself down a peg for your perceived failures, consider, instead, how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned. Then use your newfound knowledge and experience to do things better the next time around.

2. Nix the negative self-talk

Everyone has an inner critic. On occasion, it can actually be helpful, like when it reminds you that what you’re about to do may not be such a good idea and could jeopardize your goals. Unfortunately, your inner critic can be more harmful than helpful, especially when it gets overly negative.

Negative self-talk (i.e. “I can’t do anything right!” or “Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a business owner.”) not only disrupts your life but the lives of those around you. It can affect your body, your mind, your loved ones, your, employees, and even your customers.

Learn to catch your inner critic in the act of negative self-talk so you can stop it in its tracks. If you wouldn’t say what your thinking to a good friend, don’t repeat it to yourself either.

“That’s my gift. I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it.”

Source: George Foreman

Recognize that negative self-talk isn’t necessarily based on reality. After all, aren’t we typically our own worst critic? Try changing your negative thoughts to something encouraging and repeat it until you believe it.

3. Set a goal

“Negative self-talk and general fears can quickly take over and leave us feeling paralyzed from moving forward in life,” says Forbes. “Letting fear run our lives can have an even more significant and long-term impact. We might give up on one of our dreams because we won’t even consider that it is possible to achieve.”

“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.”

Source: Sammy Davis Jr.

Forbes goes on to point out that the simplest way to overcome fears is by taking one small step or action. Doing this on a regular basis prepares your mind to do it in various situations. At first, you can practice in low-risk situations to prime your mind for taking on higher-stakes opportunities.

“Goals pull your mind into the future and keep you from retreating to the past. Think small . . . The key to you achieving your goal is consistency and discipline.”

Source: The Retail Doctor


As a small business owner in 2018, there are plenty of things to make you fearful. The problem is, fear is paralyzing and prevents you from making any progress. If you want to overcome your fear of failure, you need to be kind to yourself, stop negative self-talk, and set goals to help you forward.

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” 

Source: Dale Carnegie

“Instead of asking for things to be easier…or things to be different,” says The Retail Doctor, “ask yourself better questions and set a goal. Only when we take charge of our own thoughts, can fear of failure and of the past retreat and a new hope emerge.”

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Also published on Medium.

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.