Avoid the Regret

03/17/2017 | By Paul Blakeley

This post originally appeared on blog.up.co

Not pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity – inaction – may produce a sense of loss when someone else successfully develops the idea or when the entrepreneur looks back wondering what might have been had that entrepreneur only given it a try. (Economics: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, IRMA, 2015, p. 135)

Startups fail every day. The risk of failure is a serious barrier to entry for potential entrepreneurs. In some cases the failure falls squarely on the shoulders of those that had the idea in the first place. CB Insights found that 42% of startups fail because of no market need, also known as a solution looking for a problem. I would imagine the majority of these ideas were never properly validated, and there's no excuse for skipping that crucial step. As Rudyard Kipling once said "We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse."

Sometimes the idea is fantastic but is executed bigger or better by a competitor. As long as they did everything they could, that's not the fault of those that failed, it's just something that happened. According to CB Insights, 19% of startups fail because they get out-competed. As Jean-Luc Picard once said, "It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life."

But what about failure to start? How many startups fail because their would-be founder never pursued their idea?

There are so many excuses.

"Someone else is already doing that..."

So what?! Then you should do it better to make sure YOUR idea comes to life in the right way.

"I don't have time..."

This should actually say "it's not a priority..."

"I'm the wrong age for that..."

The average age of the founders of Workday, a $1.16 billion, publicly traded, cloud-based financial management and human capital management software company was 52. Vivek Wadhwa and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, the Kauffman Foundation, and the Founder Institute have all done extensive research on this, and they found that founders 55 and older are two times more likely to launch a high-growth startup. Turns out you're not too old after all.

"I'm afraid to fail..."

We're all afraid, to differing degrees, of failure. It's usually not an uplifting experience. Fear of failure is reasonable, but succumbing to it is not. We're all afraid of something. Richard Branson is "generally a shy person" and is afraid of public speaking. Yes, the same Richard Branson that dressed in drag and served passengers on an Air Asia flight, is SHY and AFRAID of public speaking. Imagine the sheer size of his regret if he hadn't said to hell with it 50+ years ago.

According to this author on PsyBlog "Regret isn’t just a backward-looking emotion, it also looks forward and it can be a terribly powerful emotion which affects our behavior in the here and now." They also go on to say that anticipated regret (or how bad you think you're going to feel if you fail) is usually stronger than the real regret that comes with failure! Because of this, we avoid taking risks, we avoid taking chances, and we play it safe as much and as often as we can.

I'm not telling anyone to go base jumping or squander their life savings on beanie babies, but what I am telling you is that failure happens and it's OK. In fact, there are so many instances of failure spurring people on to amazing success:

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times by various publishers.
  • Reed Hasting's first iteration of Netflix was a total failure.
  • Oprah was told she was "too emotional" when she was fired from her first TV job.
  • James Dyson amassed 5,126 failed prototypes before perfecting his vacuum (he's worth $4.5 billion these days).
  • Colonel Harlan Sanders had to pitch to over 1,000 potential investors before, at the age of 68, he finally hooked one.

I don't know about you, but that's a list I'd be happy to count myself a part of.

Eliminate your excuses.

Get a head start on turning your idea into a business.

Get help, get support, and get going. What are you waiting for? 

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