I remember watching my daughters learn how to walk when it suddenly hit me that we human beings, at a very early stage, have had to cope with failure.
"What is an entrepreneur? Someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down. --
Reid Hoffman, founder LinkedIn
Of course, Cocoa and Aston’s learning to walk sessions were more of them falling continuously onto the floor rather than actually walking but it was the constant commitment to get up and try again, without fuss or drama, which enthralled me. That routine seemed to last forever. Before social influence and education teach us that falling down means the end, our minds initially are programmed to stand up and keep trying. Similarly, in entrepreneurship, starting over should be the natural response to failure.
Trial and error
Failing and starting over (and sometimes failing again) is a normal process. Entrepreneurship is not like calculus. No one has ever done anything exactly the same as what you are trying to do. There are few textbook, equation or models to follow. There are always multiple solutions to a problem. Thus, an entrepreneur can really only learn and succeed through trial and error.
"Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it. --
William Durant, co-founder of General Motors , Chevrolet and founder of Frigidaire
Bill Gates had to close down Traf-O-Data but he and Paul Allen gained valuable experience before founding Microsoft. Henry Ford shut down two automobile companies before gaining massive success with the Model T Ford. So if you have just failed at starting your own business, it is not the end of your entrepreneurial career; and it doesn’t mean you are not a good entrepreneur. You just gained some experience the hard way.
Learn why you failed
The most important thing is to know why you failed – so you don’t repeat mistakes. There are many reasons why a startup fails. Knowing what can be avoided and adjusted is the key for every start-over.
However, sometimes you fail not because of a mistake but because you are just way ahead of everyone. Your vision is too big for the public to comprehend and your dream is too wild. There’s nothing wrong with that. What is important to do in such circumstance is to keep your head in your heart, don’t lose your passion – just find a different way to achieve that dream.
Ignore the commentators
Everyone will have an opinion. Most of these commentators have never had the balls to start a business themselves, suddenly they are experts in why you failed. Only you will know why and how. Only you can learn from those mistakes and make a success of your next venture.
Steps to success
So, definitely go pursue that next idea and adventure! But do consider taking these steps before:
Calm down and try taking an objective perspective on what happened last time and what you can do to avoid it this time round
Reflect, analyze and record. Find out what was the turning point, analyze the impact and record your findings.
Take a break, find your fire and start again. Restore your confidence. It’s important that you feel ready and passionate before starting over.
Entrepreneurship is, after all, a challenging and effort-consuming thing. Starting again may have to be part of the process. Never have any doubt in your mind that you will eventually be successful because you will, you most definitely will.