Starting a business is anything but easy. From raising the appropriate capital to arming yourself with the right resources, there are a lot of steps to take and a lot of places in which one wrong decision can threaten everything. And while a small fraction of new business launches go off without a hitch, most experience at least a few roadblocks along the way. After all, over 50% of small businesses fail in the first four years.
In many ways, entrepreneurship is as much about luck as it is about skill, and there’s not always a way to avoid failure. However, learning how to rise above failure and turn problems into possibilities can be the deciding factor between making things work and shutting down your business. This is why embracing failure is the key to entrepreneurial success.
Failure Teaches Lessons
While starting a business requires significant due diligence and preparation, at least part of the process involves trial and error. Even experienced entrepreneurs can’t possibly anticipate everything about building a company from the ground up. Sometimes making choices results in missed opportunities, lost sales, loss of capital, or other issues that stand in the way of success.
However, no matter how bad failures may feel in the moment, they offer an opportunity to learn lessons for the future. For example, if the big marketing strategy you invested in falls flat, you have learned to take things in a different direction next time. Experiencing these kinds of things early on can allow your business to avoid more costly errors down the road when the stakes are much higher.
Failure Allows for Do-Overs
As the adage goes: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. No one wants to fail, but when failure does occur, it gives you the opportunity for a do-over.
When you fail in one aspect of your business, it may sting in the moment. But picking yourself up and trying again may be the best thing for you. Failure doesn’t come from good situations. It’s only a result of something going wrong, whether it’s one little thing or a cascade of problems.
Instead of sticking with the wrong path, failure allows you a do-over so you can move past a bad situation and try for a better outcome. Without that opportunity, you’d never be able to give your goals a second shot and improve your chances of getting things right.
Failure Is Essential to Winning
No one wins all the time. No team, no athlete, no competitor can come away victorious in every single outing. The same is true in business. Sooner or later, you’re going to fail. That’s just how life works.
Failure often seems like a bad thing, but in some ways, if you don’t lose from time to time, you’re not winning. You’re just stuck in the middle of the road and not taking chances. Without one extreme, you can’t have the other.
If you truly want to get ahead of the competition, you need to have some losses under your belt. Losing teaches strategies for winning, and this kind of knowledge can be very important in helping you claim victory the next time around.
Failure Builds Stronger Teams
Most entrepreneurs start out small. Sooner or later, though, you’ll need to bring more people on board. As an entrepreneur, this can be stressful. After all, involving other people in your fledgling operation requires a lot of trust that doesn’t always come naturally. And when you employ others and have the responsibility of providing their livelihood, fear of failure only grows.
While experiencing failure with a team behind you may be daunting, coming out clean on the other side can be a bonding experience. The team you’ve assembled will see your resilience and your skills, which can cultivate loyalty and hammer home the importance of commitment and diligence. After going through the tough times, your team will be more likely to stand strong together and work hard on your behalf — both to prevent another failure from happening and because they know that failure is something your business can overcome.
Failure Develops Endurance
A lot of businesses start as pipe dreams — good ideas that haven’t yet found a way into the marketplace. The businesses that succeed, however, are those operated by entrepreneurs with the endurance to go the distance.
Endurance in business can come from sources ranging from pure conviction to an understanding of how to run an effective company. Fighting through failure is a good way to determine whether you have what it takes. When your business can live or die based on the decisions you make, you develop the kind of endurance you need to stick with things for the long haul. These kinds of experiences can give you the strength to keep pushing, even when it seems like there’s no way out.
In many ways, running a business is like a marathon. There will be rough patches and periods when you think you can’t go on, but with the endurance gained from your experiences, it’s possible to make it to the finish line.
Failure Puts Skills to the Test
Some aspiring entrepreneurs believe that operating a successful business only requires a good idea. In actuality, though, a lot more goes into building a company from the ground up — and one of the necessary skills is learning to work through failure.
A great entrepreneur doesn’t balk when things go sideways. They put what they know to the test and continue to press forward. When you experience failure, you get to exercise your abilities, show your worth, and prove that you have the skills to succeed. This kind of situation can be a benefit for your personal position and your confidence in yourself. When you’re not the only one privy to the inner workings of your business, persevering through failure can improve your public perception, too.
Failure is a part of life and an unavoidable reality of entrepreneurship. However, the line between good and great is often based on failure. From the lessons you learn to the skills you develop, fighting your way through failure can be what takes you to the top.