FEAR of failure is hitting Yorkshire entrepreneurs, according to a survey by Barclays.

The poll carried out among senior decision-makers in small and medium firms shows that 58% admit they’ve put off making important businesses decisions during the last 12 months in case they make the wrong call.

In addition, 54% state the economic environment has changed their approach to making business decisions while 22% say they now “play it safe” and focus purely on the day-to-day. Some 26% admit that economic uncertainty has made them much more hesitant about longer term decisions.

James Cliffe, divisional director for Barclays Business Banking, said the impact of BOFF – Businesses Overcome by Fear of Failure – could not only hamper individual business success, but could also collectively stall the UK's economic recovery.

He said: “At the time of making important business decisions, it’s only natural to be scared of getting it wrong.

“It can feel like you are taking a big risk – whether that is decisions about staff, products, finance or even your marketing strategy.

“Despite the tough external environment, there are many opportunities to be seized upon and the ability to make important decisions is vital to the growth of all businesses and the overall UK economy.”

Business psychologist Jon Cousins said: “While risk aversion is a totally normal human response, the BoFF phenomenon is out of character when compared to the traditional risk-seeking behaviour we might expect of entrepreneurs.

“In the face of adversity, a fear of failure can cause a freeze reaction amongst businesses, where it can often wrongly seem safest to do nothing at all.”

He said: “In general, younger entrepreneurs are greater risk-takers when compared to their older counterparts, as it’s natural for the young to believe they are invincible. Older entrepreneurs have had greater life experiences, which prove to them that success is rarely guaranteed.”

The survey showed that Yorkshire business bosses were also worried about cash flow and late payments, competition, legislation and regulation – which were amplifying their fears.