The positives of ‘failure’

The word failure has such negative connotations, but can be defined in such a variety of ways. In sport for example, Christine Ohuruogu, the 400m runner who competed in the London 2012 Olympics, may feel that she ‘failed’ by getting a silver medal rather than a gold. However to anyone else, that medal represents her being the second fastest female 400m runner in the world…no mean feat! The same is true in business. According to a Harvard Business School report conducted in 2011, 90-95% of start-ups ‘fail’ to achieve their original revenue projections. However, the majority continue trading and many go on to be very successful, just with revised figures.

Even in what many consider to be the ultimate failure for start-ups: having to cease trading, there are undoubtedly lessons learnt, and experiences gained which will help you in the future. This is definitely something I’ve found with Access Regional. I spoke in an earlier post about the bumps in the road we’ve had along the way. Setting up a business is a monumentally steep learning curve, and the easiest way to learn is from mistakes you make. This has helped me, and I’m now in the process of creating a second company, which is running far more smoothly than the first given the pitfalls I know to avoid this time.

It is easy to take the negatives from the current job market too. Like everyone, I’ve had my fair share of job rejections, and it’s very easy to get demotivated by it – a stage I went through, as I’m sure everyone else does. However, even then, there can be positives: experience of writing job applications, experience in interviews, or if all else fails, hopefully it will fuel your desire to succeed next time.

I am not saying that failure should be sought out, far from it, but it is part and parcel of life and business, particularly in start-ups. So before you get depressed thinking that your start-up has encountered a failure, step back and look at what the damage actually is, then the lessons you have learnt from it. Even if you have encountered the ‘ultimate failure’ and your company ceases trading, I can guarantee that you won’t make that same mistake again with your next company! 

This blog is also now available on the Kindle Store

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2 thoughts on “The positives of ‘failure’

  1. I agree. Failure is a heavy title, but we don’t consider a small child to have failed when she falls over, it’s just part and parcel of learning to walk – if we don’t know what unstable feels like, we’ll never recognise stability. Failure is just a way to develop your sense of humour, remember what really matters and realign yourself to your true purpose!

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