I was chatting last evening with my teenage daughter. She had come home in tears after an interim meeting with her teacher on a project. Their project team had their hearts set on going to the World Finals, and her teachers had told her that their team was not likely even to make the Nationals.
One of the things she said to me was that she had spent her whole life doing this, and now it had come to nothing. Her “whole life”!? Granted, she had put her heart and soul in this for the last quarter, and I knew where she was coming from.
Everyone “fails” at some point in life. But failing the right way can lead to positive outcomes in the future. The thing is, people don’t tell us how to fail.
The first lesson we need to learn about failing, is to fail forward. What that means is that we take the lessons we learnt from the failure, and not repeat them. Having worked with many start-ups, Venture, and Private Equity stage companies in the past, I’ve realised that people either fail and give up, or fail, and try harder. While the latter retains a positive mind-set, he’s not failed forward at all! And until he learns not to make the same mistakes, trying harder may only make him fail faster (or worse, slower).
Which leads me to my second point – fail fast. My daughter thought she had put her “whole life” into the project – she probably meant that she did all she could in the limited 3 months. I told her that the good thing about that is that she had failed fast. If she had 6 more months, could they have tinkered further? Probably, would they have made a significant difference? Perhaps, or perhaps not. But that’s exactly the lesson – don’t get sucked into “paralysis by analysis”.
Many entrepreneurs feel like they have one shot at success – and because they have one shot at success, they think and overthink things – reality check time – money is burning. Alternatively, they go down one road, and when it doesn’t work, they start tinkering – build a better product, redo the model, etc. And all this while, money is burning.
For the guys who don’t fail fast, and fail forward, they will likely only have one chance.
But if you learn to fail the right way, then you’re well on your way to finding success.
Want more business lessons? Have a listen to these guys – they taught me much about making it as an entrepreneur, and I think it'll really help you too!