Thought Leadership

Enjoying The Spectacle Of Failure As An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are often scared of numbers and statistics. Specifically, the statistic that states, “90% of start-ups fail.” While the massive number seems frightening, it does not mean that experiencing it is the end of the road. 9 out of 10 small businesses fail, but even the 1 did not succeed without some failure.

The secret to entrepreneurial success is nothing except embracing and celebrating failure and facing it head-on even when the world mocks it. Fearing failure and not trying is the top reason for permanent failure. Even Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX & Tesla Motors said, “If something’s important enough you should try. Even if you know the probable outcome is failure.”


5 Joys and Benefits of Failure

It is a given that one will encounter failure in some way throughout their entrepreneurial dream, finding the silver-lining in these failures and relishing in the learning experiences gained is key.

1. Failure creates innovation: Failure always presents a chance for reinvention, innovation and creativity. It encourages entrepreneurs to take non-traditional routes or truly pushes them to think unconventionally or engage in out of the box thinking. This creativity also helps start-ups develop their USP.

World’s wealthiest person, Jeff Bezos, has embraced the unique combination of failure and invention as well. In 2014, Bezos launched the Amazon Fire smartphone which created a loss of $170 million. He then went on to create Fire TV which is largely successful and now a household staple. Even in 2015, Jeff Bezos wrote, “Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right.”


2. Failure helps understand value: Failure helps reassess the value of a business plan. It allows entrepreneurs to analyse and repair core issues that could have been more harmful in the future. From packaging to the product itself, failure enables restoration. Some ideas seem revolutionary at first glance but revisiting them displays a critical flaw, failure helps identify and filter this critical flaw early. It helps ease into damage control mode before a greater negative impact is created.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX had multiple explosions before being awarded the $2.9 billion contract from NASA to take astronauts to the surface of the moon. Throughout this process, Musk continuously worked to learn from previous critical failures and mistakes.



3. Failure highlights allies: Failure shows entrepreneurs whom they can truly trust. The thin and fragile line of trust can be blurred when working with friends and family day and night. Failure quickly highlights raw emotions and intentions. It can also help analyse if there is a specific individual behind failure. Further, it helps entrepreneurs understand whom they can rely on and trust in the future.

Walt Disney, the legendary entrepreneur, originally created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. However, Disney failed to win a legal battle and lost the rights of his creations. During this, the majority of his animator colleagues left the studio. However, Disney stayed determined and created the iconic Mickey Mouse cartoon.


4. Failure creates resilience: An entrepreneur’s life is subject to dynamic shocks and changes daily. From changes in markets and demand to changes in work-life balance, failure helps create a stronger personality that is ready to fearlessly face challenges. It also creates confidence and self-trust in that stronger personality. As an entrepreneur, failure is extremely common and each time, it makes the next experience easy.

J.K Rowling, the world’s first billionaire author, was rejected by 12 major publishing firms over Harry Potter.  She continued to be optimistic and kept submitting her book to publishers. Eventually, it was picked up by Bloomsbury and she is accredited with starting a literary revolution.


5. Failure is a humbling and learning experience: When a start-up is doing well, it is easy to get completely carried away and feel on top of the world. Failure is a great and important reminder that an entrepreneur is just a human, completely capable of rightfully making mistakes. Moreover, it ensures humility even in the business atmosphere and enables goodwill. Further, the humbling experience can help connect more with customers and sincerely understand their needs.

PopSockets inventor, David Barnett, was convinced that his innovative idea of glueing buttons at the back of cellphones would prevent headphones from getting tangled. However, he realised that cell phones are constantly changing and that consumer needs differ. He restarted his project and came up with PopSockets that is now worth over $500 million.


The Conclusion

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that failure is actually an asset. The learning experience and insight it provides into start-ups is unparalleled and cannot be competed with by any market research or extensive survey. Failure is a unique customized competitive advantage that every company receives as an opportunity to improve and it is critical to seize that opportunity. The good news when encountering failure is that a business is on its way to success.