Launching a business is an exciting, and challenging, prospect. Unfortunately, there will always be times at which you experience unexpected roadblocks as an entrepreneur. It might be misplaced trust in an unreliable partner, lost revenue, or economic upheaval that puts your venture on shaky ground. Regardless of the specifics, you must understand that mistakes and failures are inevitable in the startup world. In fact, you’ll probably fail much more often than you succeed over the course of your entrepreneurial journey.
Failure isn’t easy to accept. If you’re not prepared for it, failure can lead you to doubt whether you’ll ever be able to pick yourself back up again. However, I’m here to say that failure is not the end of the road. In fact, it’s an important part of your growth as a leader.
Here are six tips that will empower you to view failure as an opportunity to learn, grow and succeed:
The first step of embracing failure is acknowledging that it could happen at any moment. Having a business continuity plan is a step in the right direction, but it’s also important to remember that even the most well-laid plan is subject to disruption. The current COVID-19 pandemic should be evidence of that on its own.
You want to be prepared, but at the end of the day, you need to make peace with the idea that you can’t predict the future. The unexpected will happen, and you will make mistakes in response to it.
Failure doesn’t have to mean the end of the world, though, as long as you’re ready to adapt. In contrast, your organization (and all the people who depend on it) will pay the price if you’re immobilized by shock when something unexpected happens.
Don’t let fear rule you
If left unchecked, fear can play a crippling mind game. If your fear of making a mistake prevents you from moving forward, it will cost you more than the actual mistake ever could.
Avoid rationalizing your fear by saying things like, “I’m just waiting for the right time.” Procrastination can lead to lost opportunities and self-doubt. The best way to conquer your fear is simply to make a decision, commit and start working.
Throughout your startup journey, you will be faced with choices, some of which will pay off while others won’t. Still, it’s better to have trusted your instincts and seized an opportunity than to allow fear to dictate your life.
Don’t dwell on mistakes
I’m reminded of the familiar adage, “When you fall off the horse, get back on.” I believe this is a lesson with which all entrepreneurs should make peace. When you experience failure, your first instinct might be to sit down and unpack, analyze and stress over every minute detail.
On the one hand, it is important that you take the time to figure out what went wrong and learn how to do better in the future. But, there’s a difference between thoughtfully and strategically processing failure and allowing it to consume your thoughts and drain your motivation. Don’t spend unnecessary time and energy dwelling on your mistakes. Take what you need, dust yourself off, and keep going.
As difficult as it is to experience failure, it’s important that you look for the silver lining in every situation. Negative self-talk can be detrimental to your psyche and how you approach business going forward.
Positivity in the face of adversity can make all the difference between remaining stagnant and pushing through setbacks. Don’t beat yourself up over past or present failures. If you’re going through an exceptionally challenging time, remember that nothing lasts forever.
The trick is to find the good even in negative situations, and to remind yourself that failure is just a stepping stone on the path to success.
Admitting that you messed up is a tough pill to swallow. None of us want to admit we were wrong, especially when other people are counting on our leadership or expertise. That said, taking responsibility for your actions is also the key to moving past your failure.
You may be tempted to place the blame on others or to look for excuses to explain why something didn’t work out. This will only prolong feelings of frustration and embarrassment, and can also fray your relationships with people and ruin your credibility. It’s much better to simply own up to what happened and move beyond it.
Until you acknowledge your mistake, you can’t find a solution or move past it. You might find yourself in an endless cycle of placing blame while never actually achieving anything.
Some of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned in life have been through failure. If I had just given up and wasted time feeling sorry for myself, I would have missed out on wonderful opportunities.
For instance, I was an e-commerce merchant prior to launching my current company, Chargebacks911. My own experience with chargebacks is what ultimately drove me to learn more about the subject, and ultimately, to become an expert on the topic, which led to where I am now.
Lean into the discomfort of failure, and have confidence in your ability to grow from it. When you’ve walked through failure and come out on the other side, you have knowledge of how to avoid similar mistakes and can share your experiences to encourage others. Embracing these moments gives you a focused mindset.
Failure isn’t the end of your story; instead, it’s a pivotal moment which you can leverage to improve, grow, and feel empowered.
Originally published Dec. 7, 2020.