Everyone knows that businesses fail at an obscenely high rate. But regardless of if that happens to you, the truth is the same — failure doesn’t have to shatter your motivation.
In fact, failure should just be a prerequisite to your success.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. Elon Musk’s first business venture failed. Richard Branson struggled in school on account of dyslexia. And Steve Jobs dropped out of college before starting Apple. Which means that — you — the entrepreneur who’s tried and tried again is in good hands.
It might sound counterintuitive, but the more often you fail, the closer you get to building the business you’ve always wanted to build.
After all, these big-time entrepreneurs simply decided that failure wasn’t final and pushed forward regardless – eventually, creating billion dollar companies. So, to help you refine your mindset and push through your most recent flop, consider these five reasons that failure serves as a rite of passage to success, not a blockade.
1) Failure Teaches You What Not to Do
With every failure, you learn how not to build a business. And sometimes, learning what not to do is far more valuable than learning what to do.
Because your experiences are internalized in a way that guru lessons and course modules aren’t. Plus, you can’t always fully understand why doing business a certain way won’t work until you make the mistake yourself. Some things can’t be taught — they have to be experienced.
While most people believe that failure means you’re going the wrong way, Elon Musk believes that failure is a sign you’re heading in the right direction. He says, “If things are not failing, we are not innovating enough.”
You may not get it right the first time, but who knows? Success might be one failure away. As Luis Marcelino says – you have to be crazy to win so take the time to appreciate your failures and determine why something didn’t work. Then, start over and take those lessons with you.
2) Failure Gives You Thick Skin for Difficult Conversations
As an entrepreneur, you will have to hire people and you will have to fire people. You will have to negotiate better prices, land deals with clients, and remove unhealthy relationships and inefficient processes from your business and life.
That’s a lot of hard conversations. But, for better or worse, those difficult discussions come with the territory. If you want to make it big, then you have to have thick skin. As Tim Ferriss famously said, “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
But, how can you get the thick skin required to be steadfast through difficult conversations?
By trying and failing. If you frame your failures and mistakes correctly, they won’t be a source of discouragement, but a source of refinement. You won’t get weaker, you’ll get tougher. And when that happens, you’ll be prepared to have the conversations necessary for growing and maintaining a successful business.
3) Failure Always Leads to a New Opportunity
What if, when your business failed, it was supposed to fail? What if that failed business wasn’t an end-all, but an opportunity to do something different — something better?
Regardless of your beliefs in destiny and fate, how you perceive failure makes a big difference in how soon you’ll build a successful business. If you believe that failure is the end, then it’ll be the end. But if you believe that failure is an opportunity to try again with more knowledge, then that’s what it’ll be.
Nintendo, for instance, was not an overnight success. In the beginning, the company faced numerous failures. Nintendo’s first system, the Famicom console, was recalled, and the Nintendo NES made an embarrassing number of sales. But with the creation of two characters in 1986, Mario and Luigi, Nintendo found its groove. Despite setbacks, Nintendo makes 4.4 billion dollars a year now.
Perhaps Chip Bergh, the president and CEO of Levi Strauss and Co., put it best when he said, “There are no real failures, only opportunities to learn.” And without learning those difficult lessons, you might never have the opportunity to succeed.
4) Failure Gives You the Confidence to Take New, Better Risks
Entrepreneurship is intrinsically risky. You’re trying to build a new business with new people and a new product. And as we all know, new often equates to uncertain.
Which means that successfully building a business requires the ability to take smart risks and come out the other end unscathed — regardless of whether the risk paid off or not. Of course, starring risk in the face without flinching is easier said than done.
Fortunately, there’s an easy cure for the fear of taking risks — failing so much that those risks are no longer scary.
Consider Steve Tan, who didn’t let multiple failures knock him to the ground. Tan was born in Singapore and failed 5 out of 6 subjects in middle school. Then, he dropped out of university to pursue e-commerce. After failing to grow three different business ventures and giving up on internet marketing, he tried one more time.
Today, he is an international speaker and successful e-commerce entrepreneur — take it from him:
“After failing enough, my fear of taking risks faded away. I no longer worried about having to fire people, losing paying clients, or missing out on an opportunity. I’d been through it all. And, in the end, I found that it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be. Ironically, failure gave me the risk-taking confidence I needed to succeed in business and life.”
5) Failure Reminds You That You Can’t Do It Alone
Most entrepreneurs care a lot about the way their business runs, the products it launches, and the customer service it provides. Sometimes, though, that care turns into 15-hour days of micromanaging processes and employees. But that’s not a sustainable way to build a thriving business.
Unfortunately, learning that you can’t do it alone is a lesson most entrepreneurs only learn through trying and failing to do exactly that. They try to control every piece of the business and either quickly learn that it’s destroying their productivity or keep doing it until their business implodes says Callum Davies.
So no, you can’t do it alone. And while most entrepreneurs have to learn that lesson the hard way, here’s to hoping that you don’t. Either way, come out on the other end ready to empower other people to do the work you don’t have time for.
One thing is guaranteed: if you try, you will fail.
But here’s the good news: failure is just a part of the process. It’s a milestone on the path to success — a piece of the key to running a successful startup. Failure isn’t opposed to your future success, but crucial to it. The more you fail, the sooner you’ll succeed. Might as well get started.
* Image Credit:
– Featured Image, Pexels