Coping With Fear of Failure: Experiences of Young Start-up Entrepreneurs
Fear of failure was studied in the field of psychology for more than 60 years before it was studied in other fields such as education, sports and entrepreneurship. In previous entrepreneurship research, fear of failure was often reported as a barrier that prevented individuals from starting up businesses. There is limited research on the experience of fear of failure across various stages of the entrepreneurship process such as the pre-start-up and early phase of the venture, particularly among young entrepreneurs. Thus, this thesis aims to explore fear of failure experiences among young start-up entrepreneurs who started their ventures within the past one to three years in the specific country context of Cambodia.
The key question that guided this thesis was “How do young entrepreneurs experience and cope with fear of failure in the context of new venture start-ups?”. This thesis employed a qualitative method to explore fear of failure experiences among young start-up entrepreneurs in Cambodia. The interviews were conducted with ten young entrepreneurs aged 25 to 32 years who had launched their businesses within the past one to three years.
The research findings revealed the two main sources of fear of failure, related to societal pressures and fear of challenges in business. The findings further provided a more nuanced picture of both the negative and positive effects of fear of failure, which had rarely been explored in previous research. Those negative and positive effects were seen in the form of altered business activities and decisions, and personal well-being, feelings and emotions being impacted. Interestingly, the findings provided initial empirical evidence of a range of strategies and behaviours of coping with fear of failure. Three main categories of coping were: planning, managing, and seeking support; self-management for mental and physical health; and purpose and meaning of the start-up.