In business, the stress is always on success. Seminars promote ‘Small Business Success’ and magazines run stories on ‘How to Run a Successful Business’.
Failure is the ‘F word’ of business – it is taboo to mention it. After all, failure is what happens to other people, right? But what happens when we ourselves fail? We either try to quickly forget the experience or we wallow in self-doubt and recrimination.
Anyone in business is, sooner or later, going to have failures. But sometimes these ‘failures’ may turn out to be fortunate if they guide business owners to re-examine goals, decisions and methods. In this case, steps can be taken to direct the business into a different or improved path.
Many successful people will say that some of the most important and beneficial events in their lives were things they viewed as ‘failures’ at the time. But they used these failures to learn new attitudes and skills, to move on to new opportunities and to get perspectives on their lives.
Of course, some failures can have a major economic impact on your life, such as bankruptcies or divorces. But even these significant and very painful events can, over time, be seen as a chance to start on a new direction.
Here is how some of the most successful entrepreneurs deal with failure:
Redefine it. Some companies treat failures as learning experiences. Silicon Valley in the United States is considered a leading technological centre. One reason this area breeds innovation is that when someone has started a company that later fails, they are not considered a failure – rather, experienced entrepreneurs.
Analyse it. Most people view running a business like a game. They are either focused on winning or losing, rather than what is being learned from the experience. Many venture capitalists will only invest in entrepreneurs that have had at least one failed company. Why? They want reassurance that the people they support have learned from success and failure before any investment is made. After each and every set-back, big or small, take a clear, cold look at what happened.
Depersonalise it. With any failure it is easy to become self-absorbed and embark on a path of self blame. Donald Trump, one of the most successful property owners in the world, has been close to bankruptcy and back on top several times. While it is important to analyse mistakes, nothing will be learnt from selfpity. It is also not a productive or positive way to spend energy or time.
Change it. Once the reason for failure has been determined use it as a basis for modifying behaviour. Ensure that mistakes made are a constant reminder of what has been learned. Be patient and forgiving because change takes time.