If entrepreneurship is a journey full of uncertainty, there’s one thing that’s certain: Failure.
The problem is that no schools teach you about failure. It’s taboo.
Plus, we always read about the few that succeed, and then we forget about the thousands that actually struggle and fail. According to data I’ve found online, a start-up only has a 0.00006% chance of becoming a unicorn. That’s 3 out of every five million companies!
In addition, 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of the second year, 30 percent of businesses will have failed. By the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed.
Let’s be clear. Failure is the norm. Success isn't. You will fail. 100% guaranteed. If you think you won’t, maybe it’s time to check your ego.
Of course, you shouldn’t want to fail, but it’s what it is. You need to recognize that there’s the possibility of a lot of failures during your entrepreneurship journey, even when you’re good at what you do.
In fact, failure is one of the words my guests mention the most often on my podcast Inter:views Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code, together with persistence or resilience.
“You can do everything correctly and still fail. That’s a constant challenge. Persistency and having hard work ethics help go through those. Because you’re going to hit these walls and you got to continue going.”
How To Deal With Failure?
Successful entrepreneurs understand failure is part of the game.
Not only do they accept it, but they give themselves permission to fail because they know humans make mistakes.
They have the courage to admit things sometimes aren’t going well and they don’t pretend to be stronger than they think they are.
One of the most powerful obstacles to giving yourself permission to fail is shame. The shame that you think you will feel if you fail. The shame that you think you will see in the eyes of others because of the so-called society standards.
Forget about the shame. It doesn’t matter. It’s your journey, not theirs.
And, let me tell you a secret: it’s important to fail. Because if you don’t ever try anything, you’re never going to succeed.
Do You Ever Fail, Really?
Think about the following: Who determines when you fail? I mean how can you call something a failure with certainty?
Failure is the opposite of success. But can you tell me what success is? I bet you will say what success is FOR YOU, and your perception will certainly be biased because it’s based on how you judge success among other people (what you see on social media or in the news for instance, which by the way represents success in a very materialistic manner), but you’re not able to provide a general definition of success.
Well, the same goes for failure. What is a failure, really? I guess, it’s more a failure FOR YOU than anybody else, based on the society's standards (like the answers to an exam that will determine if you pass or not), your perception of seeing others experiencing failure, which is altered by your own perception of success.
Can You Fail If You Always Get Up?
That’s what successful entrepreneurs do. They see failure as an opportunity to learn and strengthen their businesses.
There will be bumps for sure, but if you’re doing something that gives you a good feeling, something that makes an impact, who cares if there’re some setbacks, who cares if there’s failure?
Nurturing such an attitude about failure not only encourages you to be bold and try new things but also creates a culture in your business where failing is fine. Now imagine how much freedom you will give to your people if they are able to say: I can fail, I can make mistakes because the environment I work in allows me to do so.
If you don’t create such an emulating environment, either people will get risk-averse and nothing will happen, or they’ll try things and then they’ll hide it when they make a mistake.
Which culture do you want to build for your people?
Again, it’s fine to fail, it’s fine to get things wrong. Just chat about it and move on.
Focus On Opportunities
Being afraid of failing is a natural emotion. It’s not easy to accept, especially as some of the setbacks can be more painful than others.
To help you deal with it, remember 2 things:
You grow when you struggle, you grow when you fight, and you grow when you get out of your comfort zone
Entrepreneurs are great at finding opportunities
So, when you face adversity, instead of wasting your time lamenting your fate, look for the opportunities the situation has created.
The most successful entrepreneurs have learned to deal with failures.
They always get back on their feet because they know failure is part of the game.
Those entrepreneurs don’t complain.
They never make excuses for themselves.
… they simply take whatever challenges that come at them, treat them as business constraints, and find solutions to get through them.
In short, they act.
They create opportunities for themselves.
At the end of the day, the difference between perceived success and failure is often whether you take these opportunities or not.