sales and marketing

It seems like failure sticks around in our minds longer than successes. 

It’s human nature, actually. Research suggests it could be an evolutionary defense mechanism, but logic doesn’t always take the sting out of failure. 

For entrepreneurs, failure is a likely—and frequent—part of the innovation journey. But it’s a reality for all highly motivated people. 

In this blog, we’ll reframe what failure might look like, cover strategies for overcoming the fear of failure, talk about advantages of failing every now and again, and how to become more resilient even in the face of failure.

Failure Doesn’t Mean What You Might Think 

“Failure” has all sorts of definitions. From not being able to perform a duty to a minor deficiency, it can seem bigger—and scarier—than it really is.

But from a human standpoint, “failure” is often associated with the feelings it causes: disappointment, regret, and ultimately, fear. And those feelings often come from the belief that failure is the end of a journey. 

If we redefine failure as something that’s bound to happen (multiple times, even!) and an essential part of own’s growth journey, it loses its power. For entrepreneurs or project managers, this reframing exercise is especially important. The less you’re held back by failure, the easier it’ll be for you to move forward.

In that way, think of failures as stepping stones along your journey. This is your chance to reflect on what went wrong and what could be done better, so you can carry those learnings with you on the next step.

Get Over Your Fear of Failure 

Reframing failure as an opportunity to assess what went wrong and what you can do next is the first step of getting over the fear. But there’s more you can do to get yourself—and your team—focused, not fearful.

First, remember that being bogged down by the fear of failure could lead to less experimentation, risk-taking, and creativity. Taking the safest route may be less scary, but it could also be keeping you, your team, and your business from reaching new heights. 

Put it this way: Rather than focusing so much on not being fearful, focus on the good that can happen if the risk you take turns out well. Redefine your space. Try a cheeky new headline. Experiment with content. Launch an eye-catching campaign. Whatever that risk looks like for you, know that the rewards are usually worth any potential kickback.

And when failure does happen, acknowledge it, learn from it, and move on. Know that it’s not a reflection of your worth (or your business) and that failure isn’t a permanent condition.

This is called a “growth mindset,” and it’ll serve you well as you work toward the goals you care about most. 

What You Can Learn From Failure 

We’ve talked about why failure isn’t something to be scared of. But what if we could think of failure as a positive event, not just a neutral one?

Failure is a unique opportunity for you to assess your strengths and weakness and forge a new path forward using what you’ve learned. This is your time to find gaps in your knowledge, your business strategy, or your abilities—and refine each and every one of them.

Without failure, we’d be stuck at “good enough.” And that’s just not going to cut it in business.

That means prioritizing skill-building, market research, knowledge-seeking, and other valuable actions that’ll make you and your business more well-rounded and competent. Personal and professional growth often go hand-in-hand with failure, so embrace the setback as an opportunity for something better on the horizon.

Related: Turning Around a Failing Marketing and Sales Organization

Creating a Culture of Resiliency 

Here’s a question: Would you rather build a business made of glass or rubber?

The more rigid your business—and your mentality—is, the more breakable it will be after failure. That’s why making resiliency and adaptability core features of your organization is key.

One of the best ways to foster a culture of resiliency is leading by example. Your own leadership will be key here, and seasoned C-suite leaders who can bounce back from failure like muscle memory will only help.

You might think a full-time marketing leader is your only option here, but that’s not the case. Fractional leadership gives you all the benefits of a full-time CMO, including becoming part of your team, training members, and building a functional strategy—but at a fraction of the cost.

Many fractional CMOs have seen failure across all types of industries and have helped your peers build themselves up from their lowest points—and reach goals they couldn’t have otherwise.

Finding a leader you can make all the difference for the culture of your organization, so be choosy! Here’s a great guide on finding the best fit.

Related: The Bright Future of Fractional CMOS

Don’t Fall at First Hurdle

Remember how we mentioned that failure is an opportunity for personal and professional growth? If you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking for both.

If you’re ready to embrace a growth mindset for yourself and across your business, you can contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our fractional CMOs.


Need guidance knowing how to best use AI to enhance your marketing approach?

Check out The Role of AI in Marketing for practical advice and insights from real-world peers.