Project Ignite Podcast by Derek Gehl Entrepreneurial Success Killer (And The Cure)
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  • Episode  12
  • Derek Gehl


In this episode I tell you about a dangerous and rampant entrepreneurial success killer: The fear of failure.

It sounds daunting, but there’s an easy fix: two steps will take you from zero to 100; from thinking about a business to starting and running a business. It’s not hard, you just have to take action.

Transcript: Fear Of Failure – The Entrepreneurial Success Killer

Hi, Derek Gehl here, welcome to the Project Ignite Podcast. In this episode, I want to talk about what I see as one of the number one entrepreneurial success killers. The good news is, there’s a simple cure – and I’ll share it with you.

A question for you: have you ever been presented with an opportunity, or an offer, a real estate deal, and investment, that had all the makings of success but you never took action?

Have you ever thought, “hey, this looks like a great way to improve my life or my financial security?” Maybe it was a career change, an investment of some sort, but you didn’t take action.

I was speaking at an event in Sydney, Australia, last week, and while I was there I was approached by a lovely mother of two named Caroline.

After my talk, she approached me and said, “I’ve always wanted to start an Internet business because I see it as a way to accelerate my income, and I think if I really applied myself, I could come up with an idea.

In fact, I’ve been thinking about this one for a couple years now, and time is ticking.” So I said, “what’s stopping you? Time? Money?”

And she thought about it for a minute, and said, “It’s not the money, because I know this can be done pretty cheaply, and I know I have the time… But what if I come up with an idea, and it doesn’t work?”

Boom. The silent success killer. The fear of failure. This killer is rampant and is probably the number one killer of entrepreneurial dreams. I see it everywhere and it frustrates the hell out of me.

It’s a shame that it runs so rampantly, because it’s so preventable: it’s all in your head.

I’m a pretty pragmatic guy, but the fact is, if you don’t have the right mindset, you’re never going to succeed in anything beyond being a good employee.

So in this podcast I want to talk about the cure. I want to talk about shutting off that mindset that’s preventing you from achieving your entrepreneurial dreams. The good news is this: it’s a pretty simple cure.

But the cure that I’m about to prescribe is kind of focused on people pursuing online businesses. Due to the nature of this podcast, I would assume that most of you either have an online business or are interested in starting one up.

This cure could be applied to offline businesses and real estate, I guess, but in the world of digital business, risk is so much smaller. So what I’m talking about really applies mostly to online businesses.
Let’s jump into step one. That is, quantify the risk. 99% of the time, when someone says, “what if I try this and it doesn’t work?”

And I respond with the same question. “Exactly. What if it doesn’t work?”

That’s what I said to Caroline the other weekend at the event. The conversation went like this:

Caroline said, “I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you.”

But she did know. So we broke it down. Here’s the thing, with digital businesses, coming up with product ideas, market research, that’s all cheap. For less that $100, you could own a powerful market research tool like Market Samurai, which will accelerate our research and help you find niche markets.

Fear Of FailureOnce you find that niche market, you need to figure out what to sell them. The great thing about the Internet is that you can test these product ideas for dirt cheap. 

What people don’t realize is that you can test selling a product before you even develop it. The risk is minimal. But in an offline business, of course, you might need to invest more and gather an inventory and stock storefronts with it.

But right now, online, the risk is pretty small.

Let’s talk about websites. Do we need to spend thousands of dollars to build one? No. We can have a website up and running and ready to take payment with some custom graphics for less than $100.

Then we need to drive traffic. Do you need to spend thousands there? No. You don’t. If you wanted to, you could focus on free traffic sources to test things out.

Or you can test targeted traffic to a website for just a few hundred dollars to see how a product will perform. If you have a website, you’ll need to create content.

But you can do that yourself. Once Caroline and I had quantified her risks, I helped her draw the conclusion that she’ll be investing time to learn how to do all of this, and then at max a few hundred dollars.

I can’t think of any other businesses that you can test that cheaply.

Then I said, “Caroline, take 90 days. Invest a bit of time every day, a bit of money, and you find out that the product isn’t performing like you’d want it to. Does that mean you failed?”

And Caroline said, “yes!” Now, for everyone listening, this is where entrepreneurs think very differently.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, offline or online, you must shift your mindset if you want to succeed.

A true entrepreneur doesn’t see what Caroline and I just walked through as failure.

First, she’s built a website, a product, tested traffic, she’s developed an asset. That asset is a website that’s getting traffic. It’s got content on it.

So if she decided that she didn’t want to be in that market anymore, she could go to a site like, and auction it off and probably break even.

So the real investment for anyone starting while you’re learning is your investment of time. It is a fixed resource, and it does have a value.

But does Caroline have nothing to show for her time invested? No. She has a ton to show.

Something that I learned from my mentor, Cory, was that there is no such thing as failure so long as you learn something along the way.

One of my favourite entrepreneurial quotes comes from Thomas Edison: “I have not failed, I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

The good news is, you don’t have to find ten thousand ways that won’t work. The point is, when you learn something, it goes into your toolbox and you’re going to apply it to the next things you do.

So Caroline has learned all of these lessons that she can now apply to her next business. She has those skills for life – that’s not a failure. That’s massive value

Like I said, the one thing I learned from my mentor Cory was to fail small and fast and that is the beauty of the Internet.

You can come up with an idea, and once you know the process and the system, you can test an idea for a few hundred dollars. And once you have the skills, you can test them quickly.

When I see people spending thousands on inventory and websites, I shake my head. That’s not how you do it. You test small, you test fast.

Are you going to fail occasionally? Yes! But every little failure is a valuable lesson taking you one step closer to hitting that financial home run.

Now, that’s not to say your first idea will be a bomb. I’m not saying you’re going to fail. If you know how to do the research, the Internet makes it easy to test. But I wanted to drive the point home.

People don’t take action because they’re afraid of failure. But whenever you quantify the real risks, when it comes to digital business, is there any risk? Hardly.

Compared to any other business opportunity, I can’t think of one that has a lower financial risk than digital business.

But there are two parts to this cure. The first was quantify the risk. The second step of this cure is not as measurable or tangible.

This is the soft skill. Simply, surround yourself with supportive and like-minded people and quit caring what others think.

As a species, the majority of the human race cares about what other people think. You want to be liked and respected. There are people out there that could care less, but I think they’re probably the minority.

There’s a need for acceptance and encouragement that drives us to avoid putting ourselves in a position where we could fail or appear to have failed. I get it.

Not caring about what people think is easier said than done. But if you can recognize that emotion when it’s preventing you from moving forward, then you’re more likely to get past it.

Honestly, the best way to overcome this self defeating programming is just to surround yourself with like-minded people.

One of my favourite quotes is from Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur. He says, “you are the average of the five people you spent the most time with.”

And I know this to be true. So ask yourself. Make a list. Who are the five people you spend the most time with?

Since you’re listening to this podcast, I’m going to assume that you have entrepreneurial aspirations. Once you’ve made that list, ask yourself, “do these people support my goals?

Do I want to be the average of these five people?” If the answer is no, you may want to shift who you spend time with. I’m not saying abandon your close friends and family, but maybe start seeking out other like-minded people.

That’s why I love attending entrepreneurial events, masterminds, conferences, whether I’m speaking or attending, I love surrounding myself with that energy.

If you have a spouse or partner that has a different mindset, just let them know about your goals and dreams.

Even if they don’t want to participate, they can at least be supportive. I can honestly say that my wife Coralynn is my biggest cheerleader.

She’s my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

Why do people fear failureIn summary, if you want to make a change, and you’ve been teetering on the brink of pursuing it, ask yourself, what’s stopping you?

Just start to take action. Action creates opportunity.

Even if you don’t know where to start, just pick a niche that interests you and start learning.

Through the process, the ideas will come. But sitting around doing nothing gets you exactly that. Nothing.

So quit letting the fear of failure stifle your success. This is one of the lowest risk opportunities for accelerating your income.

I’ve quantified the risk for you.

Find a way to surround yourself with people that are where you want to be, or have the same goals and aspirations. Just take action.

As we conclude, I’m going to leave you with another one of my favourite quotes.

“Entrepreneurship, starting your own business, is like living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” –By Anonymous.

That is so true. If you’re willing to take action and invest in yourself – start something, create something that’s going to allow you to create real income and most importantly give you the skills to do that…

If you make the sacrifices today, you can live your dream life tomorrow. But I guess the question is, are you willing to take those steps? That’s up to you.

So, in summary, this is Derek Gehl signing off. If you liked this episode, make sure you head over to iTunes and subscribe, leave a rating and review.

If you’re an Android user, you’ll also find us on SoundCloud and at

This is Derek Gehl signing off, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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  1. Thank you Derek Gehl, this podcast is really motivational. Am starting out in the digital business and this comes in handy to remind myself, not to be afraid of failure but to trudge on positively.

  2. Very interesting topic about afraid of failure. You sure elliminates that negative mindset to a positive one.

  3. Failure can happen to everyone but this must not stop you to keep going. This idea will encourage you to become equipped with the skills and knowledge needed in order to succeed. Take the risks and face the idea of failing at work with confidence

  4. Failure is common when you’re an entrepreneur. It is important that you’re ready to fail, but this will not stop you from pursuing your goal. Stand up and have the passion to continue in order to succeed

  5. I heard somewhere that fear is a preservation/ protection instinct. It can be a friend that saves us from danger but can also be a menhir that’s holding us back. Man, Ive been letting fear stop me for years! Ive been working on changing my mindset for 3 months now only to realize that I was probably preparing for this moment/opportunity to take action! I couldnt stop myself from being completely there at the Jumpstart seminar and joining the Ignite Academy. Looking forward to the journey that unfolds!

  6. Yes! One time I was browsing the internet, I saw an ad about how to create a website. I proposed a name of my website but I am not yet paying the necessary payments because , actually, I don’t know what to do with it. After this seminar, I hope I will understand more about digital business, I will claim it.

  7. Enjoyed listening to you immensely….. You sound like an all around nice guy (from your voice) with a great plan that has been proven to work. 🙂 Can’t wait to meet you in your Seminar in Manila!!! 🙂

  8. Excited to hear more from you this weekend. I have a digital product. I have written a short concise how-to ebook and have created a wordpress to sell it. But it is not generating traffic. And Im stuck! I hope your framework can help me design my next steps. See you!

  9. Very inspiring talk Derek . I should have attended this training 50 years ago. I am now 66 years old. It does not matter as life should go on and learning is the most valuable means or weapon to achieve success .

  10. Live is what you make out of it. If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing. But if you take action, there will be a call to the universe to produce a reaction.

  11. For circumstance beyond my control, I am a late starter to the course – 8 weeks behind. This podcast is spot on. As the saying goes NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL YOU MAKE IT HAPPEN!

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