Someone might ask: must we fail in every business? No one in his right mind will intentionally want his business to fail but things happen. With all your detailed market researches and feasibility studies, things can still go wrong, and they do. Remember, it’s still an imperfect world. Some situations can be caused by your ignorance, or by external circumstances, and things you can’t control as I have personally experienced in business.
The question is not if we will have problems in business, but how are we going to deal with the problems. It’s our ability to deal with failure that matters more than the failure itself (as it’s what will ultimately define us as winners or as losers). A wise man summarised it thus: ‘Entrepreneurship involves repeated failure, and sometimes very public failure. Your response to this failure determines your survival as an entrepreneur.’
With the right mindset, obstacles and challenges are agents of growth. ‘Life’, the Wall Street financier, Ziad K. Abdelnour quipped, ‘is like a camera, just focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.’ If you ask me, failing looks like a necessity for every entrepreneur to finally bud, and a necessary part to accomplishment.
Studying the lives of great entrepreneurs, I discovered that they made terrible mistakes at one stage of building their enterprises or another. But more importantly, they made prompt corrections and moved on!
Sharing his own experience, David Feinleib, an American entrepreneur said, ‘Failing fast is one mark of great entrepreneurs. Fail fast—since it’s not failure itself that will kill your company but failing slowly that will do you in.’ The journey of entrepreneurship embraces rapid learning through marketplace experiences. Knowing what doesn’t work is the first step to figuring out what does work, and sticking to what works. In other words, when you try and fail, you learn what doesn’t work.
The time of failure is the time we must own up and take responsibility. Whatever happens in our business is our business; we must learn to accept responsibility for whatever goes wrong or right in it.
Speaking on the subject of responsibility, Strive Masiyiwa, the Founder and Group Chairman of Econet Global, intimated that, ‘You are in charge and you will be accountable for whatever goes wrong in your business. You will take credit for the good things and you should also take the blame for the shortcomings. If you have the attitude of taking responsibility you will be able to deal with issues promptly because you will not be looking for who to blame.’ As long as you have your business armed with the lessons learnt to refocus or start more intelligently, you have lost nothing!
You must not be afraid of failure, or give up when it happens. And never live in regret of the failures of yesterday. The best response you can give to any failure is to learn the lessons and bounce back big time! Gary Cohn, one time President of Goldman Sachs once said, ‘Learning how to deal with the possibility of failure is really good preparation for a career in the business world.’
When things aren’t turning out the way we have envisioned, it is not time to apportion blame, but the perfect time to take responsibility! Part of taking responsibility means that you come up with a plan, even if it means changing direction; downsizing; or even shutting down, what you had started. There are very few things that correct themselves, without you doing something about them.