When You Focus on Failure Statistics, You May End Up One

We’ve all heard that 80 percent (or even 90 percent) of new businesses fail.  Indeed, that statistic is used more than any other business statistic I’ve ever heard.  Politicians use it to bolster their campaigns and point out that there needs to be a change.  Random people uses it to discourage others from taking risks.  Your parents might have used it to encourage you to stay in school and to get a “safe” job.

Regardless of who uses it or what their reasons are, the truth is that anyone who actually lets that statistic affect them and scare them away from starting their own business is a loser.

Yes, that sounds harsh.  And it should sound harsh.  What else would you call an athlete that withdraws from the match before it even starts because there’s a “chance” he might lose?  It’s the same thing with entrepreneurship.  If you’re too afraid to get into the game because you might lose, then you’ve already lost.

Before you get sucked into the failure statistic, consider a few things.

Related: Successful Entrepreneurs Thrive in Failure, So Embrace It When It's Inevitable

What statistics don’t tell you. Statistics are a funny thing.  They can tell you a lot of information without actually telling you anything important.  For instance, why do businesses fail?  We know that eight out of 10 fail, but do we really know why they fail?  And do we know how many of those failures pick themselves up and experience a wild success on their next venture? Often the answer is no.  We don’t know any of this.  All we know is that there’s a big scary number of 80 percent that is supposed to fill us with fear and trepidation.  But it should do the opposite.  It should bolster your confidence and drive you forward.

Here’s why. You want to start a business because you feel that you have something exceptional in you.  Whether that’s your drive, your creativity, your skill or any other trait, if it truly is exceptional, then a statistic that describes the majority should have no effect on you because you’re clearly not the majority.  You’re extraordinary.  You have something inside of you that those 80 percent of other entrepreneurs just don’t have.  So, obviously you’re not going to become a statistic.

Failure rates can help you.You and I both know that everyone isn’t cut out for entrepreneurship.  Not everyone is willing to sacrifice job security, sleep, leisure time and sanity to bring their dreams to fruition.  If they were, then everyone would have a successful business.

Related: 10 Quotes on Persistence to Help You Keep Going

Success is reserved for those that are willing to go the extra mile.  Success isn’t earned over night; it’s earned after countless setbacks, after hundreds of sleepless nights and after the 80 percent have already given up and gone home.

Say those stats loud and proud. Write that statistic on piece of paper, and put it on your fridge. Or you can scrawl it on your mirror in lipstick.  Hell, you can even tattoo it on your arm.  However, you want to do it just make sure that you can look at that statistic and use it for what it really is -- a motivator.  Read it every day and tell yourself that you’re not one of the 80 percent because you know damn well that you work harder, care more, and won’t ever accept defeat like those eight out of 10.

And even if your first venture doesn’t work out, you’re not going to let that turn you into a statistic.  You’ll dust yourself off and start all over again, because you’re one of the 20 percent -- and definitely not a loser.

Related: What Athletics Can Teach About the Characteristics of Great Leaders