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IoD99Bites: The taboo of failure

15 Sep 2017

Episode 23 of the IoD 99 Bites web series welcomes long-time 99-er Naomi Jane to shine a light the taboo surrounding entrepreneur failure, along with the policy update from Jamie Kerr.

Jamie’s policy update this week draws attention to the surprising statistic from Natwest’s start-up monitor, indicating a large loss in confidence among young people considering starting or founding a business in the UK. From 39% in 2016, this year’s data has shown that now just 14% of young people would consider such a career path. Particular barriers for this are noted as access to finance and skills, as well as the more obvious issues around economic and regulatory environments.

Another potential reason for such a drop in start-up certainty could be fear of failure, says Naomi Jane, founder of A Life Less Ordinary Wanted. “Our attitudes to failure as entrepreneurs and particularly those considering entrepreneurship as a career path. How failure gets treated, reported and talked about, is that we avoid it.

“And the thing is, that doesn’t work if you’re an entrepreneur. You cannot avoid failure, and for many the journey of starting your own business can be simply learning from one failure after another.

“It’s a bit of a paradox to go through the education system that tells you not to fail, to avoid failure at any cost; that it’s embarrassing, shameful, and will upset your parents. And then you come out into the world of work, and if you want to do your own thing and create something from scratch, there is no way you’re going to do that without experiencing some sort of failure. It might be something small, or monumentally massive, you’ve got to be willing to take that risk.

Do you agree with Naomi’s assessment of the stigma of failure? Watch the full video above and let us know your thoughts on Twitter using #IoD99Bites


Naomi is one of the IoD 99’s inaugural members and has been a familiar face among 99 events around London. She’s the founder of A Life Less Ordinary Wanted, a positive change agency which empowers business leaders and entrepreneurs through coaching, leadership development and therapy to create the businesses and lives that they love. 


Find out more about the IoD's amazing community of knowledgeable and supportive entrepreneurs, the IoD 99.

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