Why it’s okay to whatF-f-f-fail?

There I said it.  Fail.  I dropped the f-bomb.  Well, not that f-bomb!

You are probably thinking about now, that I must not be much of a coach to say that it is okay to fail.  However, it truly is okay to fail in your first or even second attempt at self-employment. Now, I have said it again.  It is okay to fail.

There are people so afraid of failure that they are afraid to even attempt a small business.  They are so all-consumed with what-if, what-if.  So, what if you do fail in your first attempt? 

Then Why Is It Okay to Fail at Self-Employment?

The main reasons are:

  • We are all human beings, and human beings sometimes fail.
  • Some lessons are only learned by doing and not just reading about.
  • You only really need one successful business in your lifetime, so the others can be failures.

We’ve all heard the statistics about how only 50% of small businesses ever even make it to their fifth year.  Then in most families there’s someone like poor ole Uncle Elmo, who spent his life savings on a parachute laundering business.  He ended up losing everything but his elbows, one of which has a bruise on it from his wife slamming the door on it before leaving him!   

Yes, we were all forewarned about the statistics and Uncle Elmo.  Yet we plunged ahead anyway!

What is Probably the Main Reason Your First Attempt at Business Might Fail?

There are numerous reasons, but from my professional opinion (remember I’ve co-owned a rental property business, part-time arts and crafts business, virtual assistant practice, and now a coach to the self-employed)—I’d have to say this.

In business, you have two components.  You have your technical component or that thing you do (dog grooming, cake decorating, freelance writing, etc.) and then you have your professional component.  That is the business side of what you do (taxes, marketing, etc.).  Most people—with few exceptions—are very good with their technical component.  No question about it.  They really know their stuff.  They’ve “got this thing.”

However, when it comes to the professional side?  Not so much.  They are not so good with the business side, especially marketing.  In fact, they would rather skip it altogether and just hope people somehow magically find out about them.  Then thrown in poor time management skills on top of a lack of business skills and how many ways can you say “disaster”?  Yes, the ship is headed towards the iceberg. 

What Are Some of the Other Reasons Small Businesses Fail?

While there are other many reasons—excluding the ones above—there is also:

  • a lack of planning and projection
  • focusing on the wrong things
  • buying too much equipment to be profitable
  • not charging enough or not charging competitively for services
  • trying to do everything without assistance
  • inadequate capital or no way to quickly access money
  • not keeping good financial and tax records
  • inability to take calculated risks
  • not knowing when and how to diversify products/services
  • downturns in the economy

Isn’t It Always the Economy?

No, as some experts would have you think, it is not always the economy.  Many times it is during recessions, that entrepreneurial startups and small businesses are born.  Why is that?  The competition is either very low or drops out. 

Also, due to a lack of jobs and services, is when the entrepreneurial mind goes to work to solve both of those issues.  Basically, a need is discovered and then filled.

Why Should Failure Look Different to an Entrepreneur? 

Failure should always be about taking a loss, failing and then starting over with something new.  At least this is what it needs to look like for the entrepreneur.  A failed startup is not viewed as a failure, but an unsuccessful launch.  It is a learning experience, a stage-setter for the next attempt. 

It is not about oh, gosh I failed.  I’m embarrassed.  I can never show my face in public or at family reunions again.  It is about an inability to launch or receive an adequate return on investment (ROI).  It is not a personal statement about anyone’s intelligence, abilities, talents, skills or education.  It is not personal.  It is business.

Many of us have heard about all of the failures that Colonel Sanders had before he came up with the idea of Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Again, it only takes one very good business success to be a considered an “overnight success” by most.

Also, if you have tried self-employment and didn’t like it, that’s fine too.  It is not for everyone.  At least you were willing to try, and you will never go to your grave wondering if you should have chucked the day job and went out on your own.  Self-discovery that leads to self-realization and individual truth is never a failure.  It is truth. 

In Conclusion

If you do fail at your first attempt in business, well history proves that you will have plenty of company: Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Colonel Sanders, and many others. 

If failing at your first business is really going to be an issue for you, then do me a favor.  Turn it into an income stream.  Something we passionately teach at Powerfully Purposed For Success.  Start a blog about it or write about it.  Warn others and make a few honest dollars warning and serving others. 

Just don’t let it defeat your next attempt. 

If you need a book to read, I recommend Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell.

As, always let me hear from you.  Feel free to leave your comments below.


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PFYP Certified Career Coach
Leisa Bain Good is a certified PFYP™ career coach and the owner of Powerfully Purposed for Success. She offers a unique style of career coaching tailored to freelancers, artists, solo-preneurs, entrepreneurs, and those with non-traditional jobs. She also helps those who'd like to go freelance figure out what they really want out of life and finally get there!


Leisa Bain Good is a certified PFYP™ career coach and the owner of Powerfully Purposed for Success. She offers a unique style of career coaching tailored to freelancers, artists, solo-preneurs, entrepreneurs, and those with non-traditional jobs. She also helps those who'd like to go freelance figure out what they really want out of life and finally get there!

4 thoughts on “Why It Is Okay to Fail In Your First Attempt at Self-Employment

  1. So true that you only need one success – that’s such a positive way to look at it. It’s kind of cliche to think that you learn the best lessons from failures but its so true. You fail and you try new things all on the road to succession. I’d say that the only failure you should be ashamed of is the one where you quit. Quitting means you have 0 chances of making it.

    1. That’s right, Jamie! As a society, we really frown on failure. We love those “Rags to Riches” stories and overnight success stories. However, many times if you examine the people, which they are about, you will find they usually failed or tried for years to succeed.

      Absolutely, quitting gives you a 0 chance of ever making it. So, maybe to up your chances you need to keep trying. ;)

  2. You must fall before you learn how to fly! I have been at it for going on 3 years now. It is not easy, it is a lot of work, much of the start up process is unpaid but when I reach my end game and my goals, I know it will have all been worth it! It is important to never let failed attempts come in between you and your visions.

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