The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Coping with Failure

Over the past few years, the technology boom has dampened our fear of failure somewhat. For many entrepreneurs and inventors, failure is simply the inevitable price of eventual success. It’s about paying your dues. But with that said, failure still hurts and can really knock us back. Whether you’ve just had a project die on you, or your startup isn’t turning out like you hoped, here’s why you should stay positive and keep moving on up.

Failure has a value

It might feel like failure only has negatives, but to think like that is to throw away the immense value that your experience of failure has given you. No doubt when you were young your parents taught you some hard lessons. And no doubt, you’re still grateful for those lessons to this day. The failure of your project or startup can be just such a learning opportunity. For example, you may have discovered a brutal truth about matching your product to the real market. A large proportion of business failures come from failing to understand your market landscape.

Sometimes businesses fail due to pure dumb luck, but very often there is a reason something has gone wrong. Find that reason and use that truth to make your next adventure a successful one.

Failure as a necessary part of iteration

There is another sense in which failure is simply a necessary part of progress. Evolution and technology both work in this way. For every beautiful animal like a tiger or a falcon, there’s a duck-billed platypus. For every Apple product, there’s a VCR tape languishing in a dime store. The classic example of failure as a necessary part of iteration is Thomas Edison, for whom it took a staggering number of attempts to create the first incandescent light bulb. He famously said “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” Learn from this to incorporate the lessons of your latest failure as an iteration.

Don’t panic

So you’ve failed at something. Maybe in your career, or your business or your startup. Whatever it is, it hurts and you’re struggling to come to terms with it. Perhaps more important than anything else is not to go into free-fall when you take a bump. The key is to remain calm. Be analytical not emotional. Unpick what went wrong. But also, take stock of your current situation. What options do you have available. What do you need to be able to stay above water at this difficult time. This may be financial needs — bills that need to be paid. Or it could be emotional — you just need a vacation in order to et your head straight. Once you’ve covered the necessary things, its time to regain your energy and optimism by thinking about what you’d like to aim for in your future.

If you don’t learn from your failures, you’re throwing away value. Use your experience to build something even better! Let us know what challenges you have overcome through our twitter page.

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