6 Ways to Profit From Failure

By | 2016-12-01T19:13:55+00:00 February 19th, 2015|Startup Culture|

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“Failure is not an option” is a phrase from yesteryear. Our culture has shifted. Books on innovation and entrepreneurship now tout failure as our greatest teacher. Failure has become synonymous with learning. That’s the hype.

But the truth is, fear of failure paralyzes people so they avoid taking the risks that might spur growth. It’s not that you should look forward to failing, but it is important to understand that failure is often the cost of success. There’s no shame in failure. Rather, the key is to learn from your missteps and move forward.

Here are six ways you can profit from failure.

  1. Acceptance: You know the adage, “If you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried.” Well, it’s true. Nobody is going to succeed all the time. As an entrepreneur, you need to accept this as a fact of life.
  2. Fail fast: As the saying goes, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Sometimes it’s about identifying the problem quickly and pivoting, and sometimes you will need to start from square one. Do it quickly, before you have sunk a lot of time and money into an initiative.
  3. Use failure as a stepping stone to success: Think of a toddler taking her first steps. She’s going to fall down a lot before she’s sure-footed enough to walk. Entrepreneurship is the same. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. But before you do, analyze why you failed so you do better the next time.
  4. Depersonalize failure: Just because you failed, don’t label yourself a failure. How you comeback after a setback says a lot about a person. This may sound counter-intuitive, but others may think your ability to rebound from failure makes you more likely to succeed the next time you hit a roadblock.
  5. Building resiliency: Becoming a successful entrepreneur is never a straight line. There are lots of ups and downs along the way. As it turns out, how you emotionally handle the “downs” is key. Resiliency is one of the defining skills and behaviors of people who make it, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Power, and Jim Collins, author of Good to Great.
  6. Share your failure: Your failed attempt to do something is not only a lesson learned for you, but can be helpful to others who want to avoid pitfalls in their own businesses. And, don’t forget to learn from their mistakes as well.

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Geri Stengel is president of Ventureneer, a marketing research company targeting small business. Geri is a regular Forbes contributor, consultant, Kauffman facilitator and the author of Forget the Glass Ceiling: Building Your Business Without One.