3 Tips for Overcoming Your First Failure
People who are afraid of failing shouldn't become entrepreneurs.
The reason? In a certain sense, entrepreneurship is all about pushing your limits and taking risks. So a degree of failure should be expected -- and, in my opinion, worn like a badge of honor. It would stand for bravery -- or at least mark the psychological feat of overcoming your fears.
It would also send the message that even though you've failed, you've likely learned a valuable lesson. According to investors I know, young entrepreneurs who have failed at least once are more likely to get funding from them, compared to entrepreneurs with a perfect track record. Investors know that founders often learn more from a failure than they do from a success, so don’t be so quick to delete a failure from your bio.
I'm not, however, suggesting that you fail on purpose. I'm also not suggesting that amassing multiple failures is a good idea either. But if it happens, a failure shouldn't be shunned. You should embrace it, grow from it and use the experience to move to the next idea.
Here are three tips on how to turn failure into an advantage:
- Accept responsibility, don't spread the blame. It’s easy to blame partners, investors, customers and the economy. But if you blame someone else, you'll never learn from your mistakes. Remember, you volunteered to be an entrepreneur, not a victim.
Related: 8 Failure Avoidance Strategies for Every Startup
- Capitalize on the good amid the bad. In every bad deal, there are always some good people. Many entrepreneurs have taken on one of these as a new partner, and gone on to make millions of dollars. The good investors will fund you again, and the good customers will gladly accept your next offering.
Related: Learning to Embrace Failure
- Study and profit from your mistakes. Mistakes can offer priceless lessons, so learn from them, rather than run from them. Making mistakes and becoming smarter is the job of an entrepreneur, while not making mistakes is the job of an employee.
Related: The True Key to Business Survival
Failure is not usually a single event, but a collection of mistakes and circumstances that add up to test the patience of founders. Failure, combined with a strong sense of business ethics, can motivate and produce innovation, while failure due to a lack of ethics can lead to desperation. Certain types of failures -- like failures of integrity and ethics -- are harder to recover from.
In the end, resilience and agility are really the only sustainable edge in business. So when you experience your first failure, just give up your ego, let it go and get back to work smarter on your next success.
Martin Zwilling is the founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners. The author of Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur? and Attracting an Angel, he writes a daily blog for entrepreneurs and dispenses advice on the subject of startups.