It's Time to Change Your Mind About Failure
If you want to really be a success, you need to first learn to fail.
There’s a concept in entrepreneurship called re-entry rate, which is basically the number of times an entrepreneur comes back after failure.
According to Allon Raiz, founder of Raizcorp, in the US, re-entry rate is 3,6 times on average. In South Africa, it’s 1,1 times. In other words, most entrepreneurs in this country fail once and never come back.
“We try, we fail, and we go and get a job,” says Allon.
The problem is that failure is a critical part of success. If we can’t change the way we think about failure, it’s unlikely our entrepreneurial success rates will increase.
Here’s a case in point: Before launching RocoMamas, Brian Altriche had almost two decades of experience under his belt and more than a few hard-won lessons, thanks to failures that were essential to his overall success.
“Failure is part of the equation of success. I call them my fabulous failures. You can’t achieve greatness without failures and risk,”
says Brian, who adds that he hasn’t had a significant failure in years, largely because of the many failures he endured during his early years.
Here’s the secret — great entrepreneurs are resilient. They understand and accept the powerful role that failure plays in eventual success.
“Yes, we make mistakes. Yes, we fail. But there are so many lessons to learn when that happens, and you can come back and take those lessons and do something great. But you have to be willing to try,” says Allon of his own entrepreneurial journey.
Allon admits that despite his success, he lives in fear that his business will fail every day. But he will not live in fear that he will fail. And to him, there’s a huge difference.
In 2000, at 29 years old, in a city on the other side of the world, executive coach and speaker Dr. Sam Collins lost her job.
“My lesson was to embrace failure and see it as a stepping stone on the way to success.
Failing is an inevitable part of creating your destiny, and it gave me the platform to start my own business and follow my biggest dreams. Now, I welcome it.
“When something goes wrong, we need to learn to say, ‘Something good is happening here’. Look for the greater message of the experience and expect it to, eventually, turn out for the good. Recognising this gets easier with practice.”
In fact, just like Brian, Dr Sam recommends routinely failing. “It means you are active, doing something, moving forward,” she says.
“Too often we buy into what society says, or what the past has shown us will work or not work. When we do that, we limit ourselves, and we impede our ability to make big things happen.”
WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU, MAKES YOU STRONGER
Gary Vaynerchuk, an Internet and marketing entrepreneur whose net worth is $160 million, is considered one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, and a daily inspiration for millions. And yet, he’s the first to admit that in terms of volume, far more things aren’t going well than those that are.
“My overall strategy and vision are working. My day-to-day is not,” he explains.
“I think most people have it reversed. Most people don’t take chances and are doing things on a day-to-day basis to protect themselves from the micro failures. What they don’t realise at a macro level is that they’re not moving forward, and so they’re losing.
“I literally fight fires for a living. Problem after problem after problem. Every morning when I wake up, I have 27 emails and 19 texts, and four missed phone calls and three voicemails telling me something just went horribly wrong, or I’m getting torn apart on social. Every. Single. Day. Entrepreneurship is not fancy… Entrepreneurship is hard. It’s fighting fires.”
According to Gary, to overcome failure, you need perseverance and backbone. “It’s all in your mind. Winning versus losing, success versus failure is mental. It’s mindset.
“You have to put yourself on the right track with your macro decisions. Every other micro ‘failure’ doesn’t really matter. You have to decide, ‘This is not working,’ and then realise, everything you’ve been doing up to this point is the reason that it’s not working.”
The formula is straightforward: Take an audit of how you got there. Be accountable and make a change, and then allow momentum to take over. You will get back on track, just in another (better) direction.
Nicole Crampton is an SEO specialist who contributes to Entrepreneur.com/za. She has studied a BA Journalism at Monash South Africa and has continued her studies with a Creative Writing degree from UNISA. Nicole has completed several courses in writing and online marketing, and continues to hone her skills and expertise in digital media, digital marketing and content creation.