On Failure

And Down She Goes!

“If we’re not failing at something on a regular basis, we’re just not trying hard enough.”
Stephen Kaufer

As an entrepreneur, failure is a certainty, success is not.

It’s a fact that more small businesses fail than succeed. The exact percentage of failures to successes changes depending on who you ask, but that’s the general trend.

So as an entrepreneur, you need to be comfortable with failure. You need to embrace it. Plan for it. And when it happens, learn from it and move on.

If you want to be truly innovative, you’ll have to be especially comfortable with failure. Innovation means pushing the boundaries and doing something daring, something most people are going to call you crazy for doing. And chances are, most of the things you’ll do will be crazy. They’ll fail wonderfully in a ball of fire.

In other words, to be an entrepreneur (and to be innovative), you need to fail many more times than you’ll succeed.

Those who aren’t able to handle failure are better suited for a less risky lifestyle – though I’d argue that working for someone else isn’t less risky in actuality, it’s just less taxing mentally and less ambiguous.

We’re all wired to be risk averse to a certain extent. It hurts more to lose $100 than to gain $100, for instance. But it’s possible to flip that around when you’re an entrepreneur.

Failing sucks. Don’t get me wrong. There’s always a bit of a sting when something you’ve been pouring your heart & soul into fails. But the trick is to rebound quickly, assess why you failed rationally, and jump into your next plan eagerly.

The assessment part is important. This is where you learn from your mistakes. You can read all you want, attend all the conferences you can afford, and talk to all the advisors you can, but experience will still be your best teacher. Of course, you can decrease your failure rate a bit if you arm yourself with good information. However, when it comes time to make a quick & decisive decision, that’s where your experiences weighs heavily.

So you still want to be an entrepreneur? Go out there and fail. Then fail again. Then pick yourself up and with you’ve learned, go create a kick ass company.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.