Zoë Damacela is a dynamic, young entrepreneur that we'll be following in 2013. She's a NFTE (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship) alum whose business plan for Zoë Damacela Apparel took top honors at the Chicago Citiwide Business Plan Competition and placed second in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.

We'll follow Zoë through this blog as she manages her business and juggles school and other responsibilites.

Zoë's journey

Conquering the fear of failure

Entrepreneurship is undoubtedly unique. It is a course of action that doesn't appeal to most people. But to those select few individuals who choose this path, the rewards—both monetary and otherwise—can overshadow the uncertainty and difficulty that come along the way.

Starting a business can be daunting, but I find that by tackling each obstacle as it comes, rather than waiting and being overwhelmed by a giant wave of problems, is the best way to operate. After all, creating something from scratch that has never been done before will always be a little messy. So that is an important lesson that entrepreneurs of any age should learn upfront. Don't be afraid of failure.

That seems simple enough. But in reality, the fear of failure can be crippling. That's a line you might hear from your therapist, but it's true. And for anyone who's running their own business or thinking about a start-up, it's vital to know that you may be your own worst enemy.

Our idea of what it takes to start a business is so glamorized that we often forget that for every successful venture, there were hundreds of failures until finally one revision made it work. Recognizing upfront that even if you are lucky enough to have a million (or billion) dollar idea on the first try, bringing that million dollar idea to fruition is going to come after a whole lot of trial and error.

Remember: entrepreneurship is something you have to experience; you can't learn it from a textbook. It is of course possible learn finance, accounting, economics, advertising and other tools that will help you. But entrepreneurship itself is 100% hands-on.

Treps need failure in order to strip away the weakest parts of our plan. Being a successful entrepreneur ultimately comes down to how well you handle failure and what you learn from it. Learning to recognize your mistakes early on is a skill you must have or develop.

Here are the three steps I take when I find something isn't working:

  1. Stop, think and understand what the fundamental problem is.
  2. Analyze whether or not the problem can be fixed by changing a process, a material or a decision I've made. If so, make that change at once.
  3. Do this dozens, hundreds or even thousands of times and in the end, the final product will be stronger and more likely to be a success.


The views of third parties set out in this publication are not necessarily the views of EY. Moreover, the views should be seen in the context of the time they were expressed.