Encountering failure as an entrepreneur can be crushing, especially if you’re new to the experience.
While leading a business, you’re in charge of making the decisions, and you’re the one that’s accountable when something goes wrong. When something does go wrong (and something always will), it’s easy to take it as a sign of your own incompetence, or to believe that there’s little to no hope of recovery. And because you’re so passionate about pushing your business to succeed, failure can be utterly heartbreaking.
However, failure can be overcome. When you understand these five essential truths about failure, you’ll be able to handle your setbacks better and set a brighter, more optimistic course for the future.
1. Failure is inevitable.
You can’t escape failure. Any successful entrepreneur who tells you he or she has never failed in the history of his or her business is lying. Success can only come through experience, and experience is incomplete without failure. If you spend more than a day working on something, it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong.
Of course, that isn’t to say that all businesses are destined for failure. Your inevitable failures could be small in comparison, such as hiring the wrong person, missing a shipment or coming up short of your annual financial projections. When you face the consequences of your failure, remember that failure is an essential part of the entrepreneurial process, and even the most seemingly successful people have experienced it.
2. Every failure you survive is a learning experience.
No matter how big or small your failure is, it’s possible to look at it as a learning experience. Even if your entire business goes under, you can take the lessons you learned from this failure and apply them to your next venture. By doing this, you rob the failure of its power -- it isn’t a sign that you are incapable of achieving something. Instead, it’s just a hard step in the right direction.
The best way to learn from any failure is to perform a thorough root cause analysis. What factors led to this failure? Why did this happen the way it did? How can you improve your processes, outlook and yourself to avoid this type of failure in the future? As long as you can make some kind of improvement, the failure will be worthwhile.
3. Failure never means the end.
When you experience a major failure, it’s easy to erroneously think that it’s the end of your journey. For example, if your business is forced to file bankruptcy, you could make an assumption that your career as an entrepreneur is over. However, this is only the case if you allow it to be.
Failure is never the end of the road. Instead, it is merely a section of that road. It may be hard to cross or intimidating to look at, but as long as you trudge through, your path can and will continue. Refuse to accept that your failure means the loss of your goals, and start thinking about how you can shape your future.
4. Failure makes success taste sweeter.
It’s difficult to realize in the moment, but every failure you experience and every obstacle you overcome is going to make your success seem all the better once you finally achieve it.
You might not hit exactly the goals you originally set out to meet, and you might not arrive at your destination exactly how or when you planned, but as long as you keep moving forward with a positive attitude, a solid work ethic, and the ability to change over time, there’s nothing that can stop you from succeeding. Once you get there, you’ll look back and feel far more satisfied than if that success had come to you easily.
5. Your next failure will be easier to accept.
The last thing you want to think about after experiencing a crushing failure is another failure that awaits you down the line. But remember, failure is inevitable, so it’s only a matter of time before you fail at something else or fail in a different way.
Here’s the good news: each time you fail, it will be easier to accept. It will be easier to learn from. You’ll have an easier time moving on. It only gets better from here.
While it might seem like a big deal at the time, it really doesn’t matter that you failed. Small failures such as missed deadlines will vanish on their own in a matter of weeks, and even major failures such as the bankruptcy of a company will only serve to strengthen you if you approach them correctly.
You can’t undo a failure -- you can only choose to move forward from one, and when you do, you’ll be better positioned for your next, true success.