No business venture is a straight line to success. Just about every successful entrepreneur I’ve met has numerous stories of failures and setbacks that opened doors to greater opportunities.
If you are going to be a successful entrepreneur or business person, you will likely have challenges at one time or another. Let me be blunt about it: at some point in your entrepreneurial life, you will fail at something or even at the Big Business Idea! That’s the bitter truth.
In one of the businesses I co-founded, a few years down the line, we encountered pretty overwhelming odds that looked so scary! It was so bad that we almost lost it all. But in all, we learnt one great lesson: problems, challenges, tough times, adversity, or whatever you choose to call it, come for exchange. It’s an exchange of losses with inestimable experiences and wisdom. Today, I am a better entrepreneur because of my failures.
In my book, On Becoming an Entrepreneur, I dedicated a full chapter talking about the Audacity of Failure. As entrepreneurs or business men and women, we truly desire to control the circumstances of our enterprises, but the truth is that we cannot completely determine what will come our way most of the time. We are vulnerable to one thing – failure, which could be caused by several factors.
The best rewards we get from failures are the wisdom that come from them. And nothing shapes a man into his best form and better self like his life experiences, and I mean tough experiences. In the words of David J. Vallieres, ‘Fail with little money and time wasted as possible. Then when you find something that works you have both the time and the money to pursue it to make you rich.’
I have come to realize that business successes and smart failures go hand in hand. Failure can be very painful but it is inevitable in business. Benjamin Franklin must have known the value of pain when he declared that, ‘The things which hurt, instruct.’ The greatest battle we wage against failure occurs on the inside, not the outside.
Nothing will best teach you true entrepreneurship like a failure. And nothing will better prepare you as a great entrepreneur like a failure. My story as an entrepreneur won’t be complete without my failures. Or rather, I have no story to tell as an entrepreneur without my failures. It didn’t just tell me what to do and how to do them but more importantly what not to do, and how not to do them.
Like someone rightly remarked, ‘If history teaches us anything, it’s that for your startup to succeed, or your existing business to flourish, you must be willing to experiment and fail in search of the right combination of problem, product, and market that results in big success’.
When you fail, it is important for you not to see it as the end of the world but to approach your failure with much integrity as you can by assessing what happened and learning the lessons. Then brush yourself and get back up! When you return, and you must, you will stand a better chance of success.