My Proficorn Way (Part 14)

Dealing with Failure

Everyone who says that learning through failure is how they succeeded is wrong. If that there were the case, failing first and fast would become the alternative to a business school education!

No entrepreneur sets out to fail. And yet, most do. Every entrepreneur believes they have a 70-80% chance of succeeding, and yet 99.99% of new ventures fail.  That is the reality of the world. It is easy to say that one has learnt a lot through failure. What else can you say? And it also sounds good. And yet, failure is the hardest experience for an entrepreneur to live through. It is gut-wrenching and emotionally debilitating. Each day seems like an eternity. It is a tunnel without any light anywhere.

I have had plenty of failures in my life. I never set to fail so I could “learn.” Each venture that I started had a dream, a vision, a rainbow that I could see. I kept imagining how the world would be a better place with what I was doing. And yet, many mistakes later, those same dreams would be destroyed. I had to face the reality that I had failed. And it is never easy – never mind all the previous failures.

Entrepreneurs live on hope and breathe optimism. As such, they are somewhat removed from reality – the same ability that gets them to see what others don’t also creates a distance when it is about coming to grasp with failure. As such, most ventures linger in a zombie zone for many more months than they should because the eternally optimistic entrepreneur always believes tomorrow will be the big day when everything will magically turn around.

The first step to dealing with failure is recognising it. Bad businesses need to be shut down and the entrepreneur needs to move on. Only when one door is closed can new doors be opened. Failure is not a business school or a ladder to success; it is part of an entrepreneur’s journey. Failure is the most likely and default outcome for a venture. What needs to be explained is success, not failure.

Proficorn entrepreneurs go to work each day to reduce the risk of failure. They also recognise earlier than others when something is not working and stop it. Without the willingness to fail, there cannot be success – because the journey would never begin.

Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 15)