Life would be fantastic if everything always went as planned. Life isn’t a movie where everything magically works out in the end. In business, things frequently go wrong. It can be something small like money wasted on a bad strategy, or it can be a major incident that requires legal help. There are failures every entrepreneur has to face on the journey to create a business and life they love.
At that moment when things don't go as planned -- a time of failure -- you have a choice to make. You can let the failure define you, or you can use it as a life lesson that helps you become a more well-rounded entrepreneur. What we fail to realize in moments of failure is that there are clues that can help avoid the same mistakes and grow our business.
In 2011, I had to admit that my first business and life were a failure. I was $180,000 in debt and losing customers left and right. As much as it hurt, I started over. It took three years, but I paid off all the debt, lost 170 pounds, and moved our family from Wisconsin to Maui, Hawaii. It hurt to let go of what I built from scratch, but I made the choice to use it as a learning experience. Here are five ways failure can make you a better entrepreneur.
1. It teaches you not to get comfortable.
When things are going well, it’s easy to put business on autopilot. You’re less likely to take risks when what you’re doing is working. Failure is a wake up call to the fact that complacency quickly kills progress. When you experience failure, you realize that you can’t rest on what used to work. You have to continue growing with new and innovative strategies.
2. It teaches you need a backup plan.
When Plan A doesn’t work, failure teaches that having a Plan B, then Plan C, is a good idea. Your backup plan should include an emergency fund. In a moment of failure, you might need that resource to keep your business alive. Learn the lesson before experiencing failure. Have a plan for when things don’t go as planned. Your plan should include more than money. The people working for you should be clear about what happens next and what their role is.
3. It teaches the value of determination and perseverance.
In your mind, you know that it takes guts and perseverance to build and grow a business. If you never experience failure, you’ll never actually know what that means in the real world. When you've overcome your emotions to formulate a recovery plan, you understand what determination is. That’s a lesson that failure often teaches you.
4. It teaches you gratitude.
When you work hard and overcome obstacles to building your business, you learn to appreciate what you have even more. Gratitude is an important component of life and business. With an attitude of gratitude, you notice and appreciate the small things, and that helps you become a better business owner.
5. It gives you the life experience that makes you stronger.
The rate that businesses fail these days is sad. You probably know an entrepreneur who couldn’t make it and had to close their business. It takes strength to build a business and failure makes you stronger. It helps you realize that while you aren’t perfect, you have a strength that’s greater than what you’re experiencing at that moment.
Don’t let fear of failure keep you from taking chances in your business. Don’t let that fear keep you from dreaming bigger. Failure is a normal part of life and business. It happens to even the best of entrepreneurs. The choices they made are the difference between them and those who fade away.
Learn from failure and use the lessons to avoid the same mistakes. Determine to come back even stronger. If there are critics who relish your moment of failure, ignore them and continue working. Ultimately doing the work, day in and day out, is what it takes to succeed in your business.