Success through failure? Yes, and you might be saying now, “You got to be kidding me!” The word failure can be the most dreadful idea any small business owner would even think of. But mind you, it plays a critical role when you want to achieve business success.
Rhonda Abram, a publisher of books on entrepreneurship and the President of The Planning Shop aptly puts it: “Nobody wants to fail. But some failure is inevitable — at least it is if you ever hope to succeed. Virtually all success depends on trying things that fail.”
Any wise person would agree that failure is part of the grand scheme of life. In fact, successful entrepreneurs have experienced failure at varying stages of the business. Ironically, one way to succeed is to fail.
Abram writes: “I often tell budding entrepreneurs that the key to success is to be able to take failure and learn from it. Failure is not the defining destination; it’s a momentary experience on your entrepreneurial journey.
But that’s only true if you’re willing to look critically at why you failed and absorb what the experience has taught you. I’ve known venture capitalists who actually prefer to invest with entrepreneurs who have had at least one failure.”
At this point, let me invite you to direct your interest towards a different way of perceiving failure by reading the following tips based on the article “Small Business Strategies: Fail Smart on the Road to Success” by Rhonda Abram. Click here to read more.
How to Achieve Business Success by Failing the Right Way
1. Fail Fast
You can’t produce something perfectly at the very first step of trying. If your product or service doesn’t turn out well in the first instance, keep moving. The sooner you learn from your mistake, the quicker you can make improvements.
“Try new things without obsessing about perfection.”, says Abram. “Develop things quickly, then get them out the door. You need real-world feedback from customers, users and partners to be able to fix your mistakes.
Learn from Google’s product-development mantra: “Experiment, Expedite, Iterate.” Google is not the only powerhouse with an emphasis on speed and experimentation. One of Facebook’s mottos is “Move fast and break things.”
“To fail fast, give employees the authority to make decisions and act on them without a lot of hassle. If things don’t work out, move on quickly without giving a lot of criticism.”
2. Fail Forward
Abram says that if you’re going to fail — and you will — fail in a way that moves your company, products and services in a new direction.
Abram asserts that it is certainly possible to fail backwards by doing things you’ve done before, trying to recapture past glories, or replicating what made you a success a decade ago. Failure leads to success only if you’re stretching yourself, trying new things, innovating. “Remember, innovation does not require perfection. We live in a version 1.0 world. Consumers have great tolerance for new products and services that are not perfect at first. Move fast and forward.”
There are many lessons that we should be able to pick up from past failures. Don’t lose sight of these lessons when the days of glory overshadow the business wisdom that could have been gained from the days of defeat.
3. Fail Smart
Your openness to failure should not mean welcoming those that obviously should and can be avoided; otherwise, that would take you to the path of disaster.
“You don’t learn much or gain much if you fail because you’re doing something stupid and avoidable” says Abram. “Learn first from the mistakes of others: partnerships imploding because of a lack of communication, employees unmotivated because they’re treated poorly, owners not taking care of business fundamentals such as contracts or bill paying. Failure is useful only if you’re learning something from it.”
4. Fail Cheap
“Try to keep your financial losses from a failure as minimal as possible”, admonishes Abram. “One way to do this is to start lean. Try new things with the least amount of investment to test a concept…The idea is to launch a minimally viable version of whatever you’re trying. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect.”
5. Fail with Integrity
Failing does not have to ruin your character. As a matter of fact, the strength of your character is defined by how well you handle failures.
According to Abram: “Even if you fail, people who worked with you before, even invested in you, may be willing to team with you again in the future. But you have to prove yourself to be a person they trust and respect.
If you failed because you are dishonest, your word is unreliable or you are a cheater, your one failure is very likely to become permanent failure. Experienced and intelligent people will forgive your failures if they’re honest attempts to accomplish something.”
If you are serious about business, perceiving failure as a friend rather than a foe is a valuable trait. It allows you to learn from your mistakes and help you grow. The tips provided above should offer us some of those important wisdoms as we carry on with our entrepreneurial goals.