We’re taught from a young age that failure is the opposite of success. In high school and college, when we fail an exam, we’re told it’s because we didn’t study hard enough and we need to retake the class (or at least suffer a barely passing overall grade). Though it seems counter-intuitive, in the entrepreneurial world, failure is anything but the opposite of success. In fact, it’s the first step toward success.
So why is failure so important? And why should you learn to embrace it if you want to succeed? Here are just a few reasons that failure might be your best learning opportunity and a big step toward success as an entrepreneur.
FAIL NOW AND YOU’LL LOSE THE FEAR OF FAILURE IN THE FUTURE
Again, this is going to sound counterintuitive, but you shouldn’t just learn to fail—you should learn to fail now. The sooner you dive into being an entrepreneur, the sooner you’ll start learning important lessons that will carry you through to success. One of those lessons is that failure isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning.
If you take a risk now, run with it, and fail, you’ll see that it’s really not that difficult to pick yourself back up and try again. As you learn that, you’ll become bolder in your entrepreneurial moves, and you’ll be more likely to succeed in the future.
FAILURE TEACHES YOU HOW TO DO BETTER
Next, consider that exam you flunked in college. Even that failure was a valuable lesson, though it might not have felt like it at the time. Sure, you had to go back and take that class again, but failing that exam taught you that you couldn’t cram all of your studying into a single night before a test. The second time around, you took the knowledge you’d already gained from taking the class the first time, and you added good study skills to get a better grade. And you didn’t have to cram all night before the exam, either.
Failing in an entrepreneurial effort is a lot like failing an exam. It can be a bit painful, but it also teaches you how to do better next time. If you can see the mistakes you made that led to a failure, you can learn from them. You may fail again, but you’ll learn from that failure, too.
Some people fail once and walk away. Why? In some cases, they decide that they aren’t willing to put in the work it’ll take to succeed. Other people fail and continue failing until they succeed. Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that’s why I succeed.”
When you fail, you have the opportunity to look at the hard work you’ve done so far and what it will take to succeed. Then you can better evaluate what you really want to do and how you’re going to get there. In other words, failure is a great divining rod for showing you whether or not you’re moving in the right direction for your business and your career in general.
So, while failing that exam in college might have seemed like the end of the world at the time, you can see now how it was actually your first lesson in how failure can lead you to success. Learn to accept that you’re going to fail. Fail early and fail often, and eventually you’ll succeed.
G. William Kazimer
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