When I was 9, I started my very first business. I’d drawn up the numbers, prepared my products, made deals with outsourcers, calculated taxes, navigated business expenses with the help of a couple wary investors, found my location, and set a reasonable timeline. It was a grueling process for 9-year-old, but when I was ready to open my UNCOLA stand on the side of my street, the work felt worth it…..
You want to know what happened? I didn’t sell a single cup of uncola.
Looking back on it, I get slightly bitter about my failure, but it set a very important precedence for my life. I was forever bound to be a failure.
There’s a misconception that there are “winners” and there are “losers.” That is to say, there are people who always win, and people who always lose. In this philosophy, if you’re a loser, there’s no point in trying anything new; you’ll always lose anyways. The ultra-confident and powerful “winners” are bound to take the cake in anything they do.
The truth, however, is very different. It turns out that many of the “winners” have lost. They’ve lost a lot. In fact, they’ve lost more times than the “losers” have. The difference is that the “winners” pick themselves back up again, dust themselves off, and try a different approach. It turns out that, to be a “winner”, you don’t have to win all that much– you just have to be stubborn enough to keep trying until you find something that works.
I’m very proud to say that I am one hell of a loser—so much so that I’ve somehow found myself in the coveted position of a so-called “winner.” I began my own successful start-up 5 years ago that’s managed to thrive and grow despite being helmed by yours truly.
After reading rich dad a few months ago I should have taken a bigger interest in some of my friend’s parents. Two of which are now clients today. Once of which we’ve help grow digitally into a leader in their industry.
I’ve learned a lot about life and about success through getting knocked down and dragging myself back up. Without further ado, here are some business lessons from a “chronic, eternal failure”.
1. Failure ≠ Fault
Sometimes, we do absolutely everything correct and still fail. It’s an inevitability of life. Many companies believe that punishing employees for their failures will encourage them to work hard and put in their best effort. Often, however, this leads to a culture of fear, disinterest, and a notable lack of motivation.
Companies that allow for failure and mistakes create a stronger trust and mutual respect between employees and management. When an employee feels comfortable to come forward and admit to a mistake, more costly mistakes are avoided down the line.
Don’t get me wrong—punishment is still necessary. Purposeful defiance, repeated offences, or a lack of motivation will certainly get any employee of mine booted pretty quickly. But be sure to check before you punish your employee that you’re punishing them for the right reason.
2. Know When to Quit
Knowing when to quit is one of the hardest lessons a person (let alone a business) can learn. There are some business ventures that just won’t work, no matter how much passion or money you have. Inversely, a large of products and ideas inevitably take a dip in popularity once the novelty wears off.
Do whatever you need to console yourself; angrily mutter “the world just wasn’t ready for my brilliance” three thousand times if you need to. Just be sure follow your gut and quit while you’re ahead.
3. Learn to Be a Team Player
If you ever want to be successful in business, you need to learn how to work with others and how to delegate. While it may be incredibly tempting to fall into the Jill Barad trap and obsess over controlling every detail, you’ll never be successful. Plus, if you work with a team, you can point at the other guys when asked why your company failed.
4. Not All Failures Are Equal
The failure of printing a few hundred business cards with the wrong email is not on the same level of failure as having a critical flaw in your product that causes nationwide recall. There are different levels and types of failures. While there are some failures you never want to have, there are experimental tests that should be purposefully failed to grow your company to further prosperity.
5. The Ultimate Lesson to Be Learned
Take it easy on yourself. Just because you failed something on paper doesn’t mean your entire life is a waste.
Take a deep breath, then get back to work.
Now is your turn!
What are your business lessons learned from failures?
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