When it comes to failure, American entrepreneurs are more relaxed; they’ve been exposed to it, they know it happens and they try to learn from it. On the other hand, Europeans tend to look at failure like it’s something dishonorable and shameful, which you should hide. I’m happy to see more and more articles advocating the importance of failure for entrepreneurs.
Why on Earth would you want to fail? you might ask. There are a few reasons for this:
- you save a lot of time and money by closing a business that doesn’t work. You’ve probably heard of the the “fail fast” mantra; even Google lives by it. Remember Google’s virtual world “Lively” or its social network “Orkut”? Exactly!
- you gain valuable insight into the market: you know what customers want (or don’t want), how much they are willing to pay for it, how your competition manages to grow… And all this hard to get information is yours. OK, you paid for it with your business, but maybe next time you’ll do it better.
- you become more experienced. The more problems you encounter, the easier will be for you to address them. Deadlines not being met? Development process getting out of hand? Sales going down? Unproductive employees? Been there, done that. You’ve already tried every solution in the book and already know the effects.
- with every new failure, your chances increase. It’s all about the numbers: the more you fail, the more chances you have to do it right next time. As Jason Calacanis once said, even a blind man can hit the target if he just shoots randomly in that direction.
- you meet people. No, I’m not talking about failing in order to improve your social life, that would be a little exaggerated. I’m talking about meeting the people that can help you, recommend you, advise you, introduce you or partner with you on your next venture.
- you become a better person. People who have had this experience themselves tend to be more understanding, supportive, sympathetic, wise, accepting than others.
Still not convinced failure is not bad?
Here is a list of famous failures:
- Bill Gates: before Microsoft, he founded Traf-O-Data, an app to analyze automobile traffic flow.
- Albert Einstein: when he was young, his parents thought he was retarded.
- Henry Ford: his first two automobile companies failed
- Michael Jordan: was cut from his highschool’s basketball team because of “lack of skill”
- Marilyn Monroe was dropped by 20th Century-Fox because her producer thought she was unattractive
- Richard Branson: because of his dyslexia, he couldn’t read until he was 8 and he had many businesses that didn’t work.
- JK Rowling: she was a jobless, divorced, single-parent struggling with poverty.
Photo credits: Will Lion