Most entrepreneurs loathe business failure. However, all successful entrepreneurs have experienced failure in their careers. Rather than looking at failure as a negative, a successful entrepreneur understands that failures are just stepping stones toward eventual success. The key is not giving up but to use business failures as lessons.
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”Bill Gates
A lack of failure on the part of a business means that the entrepreneurs have not tested the boundaries of what is possible or more profitable. When speaking to his team at SpaceX, Elon Musk famously said:
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”Elon Musk
Failure is often the best teacher. My first small business experience was with an Invisible Fencing franchise. My wife and I operated the business while I continued to maintain a full-time job. At that time in my career, I worked for a computer company that was falling on hard times. I considered myself under-employed and the Invisible Fencing business was a side hustle. It was both my parachute in the event my day job went south and was my laboratory to learn about business.
After about five years, I lost my franchise due to under-performance and my reluctance to give up my full-time job.
Several years later I had an opportunity to start a documentation and training development company. My wife was quick to remind me that the Invisible Fencing franchise business was not very successful, to which I replied, “But I learned so much from the failed experience that I think I can do much better this time”.
This second company required that I go all-in and quit the day job. There were many reasons why the second company was much more successful than my first. The lessons I learned from my failed Invisible Fencing business allowed me to learn valuable lessons about business that I still share with clients today.
I’m often asked, “You’ve had several successful businesses; what is the secret?” The secret I tell them is to fail small. I encouraged would-be entrepreneurs to start a small business that does not have large upfront costs as a way to learn to understand financials, operational controls, marketing and sales before jumping in with both feet.
I tell many clients who want to become an entrepreneur but do not know where to start to develop a side hustle while they keep their day job. Today it is easy and costs almost essentially nothing to start an eCommerce business based on retail arbitrage. You might not make a million dollars, but you will learn a lot about what it takes to operate a business.
So, what if the small side hustle fails? Use the pain of failure to motivate you to do better next time. In the end, it does not matter how many times you fail. When you finally get it right, everyone will tell you how lucky you were to become an overnight success.
Are there opportunities for you to spread out and try your entrepreneurial wings before leaping from the nest?
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