“I usually tell people that everything I learned about being an entrepreneur I learned by F’ing up at my first company” – Mark Suster
Mark is a very successful entrepreneur turned VC, and blogs about his experience as an entrepreneur. In the post where I took that quote from, he shares a lot of very important lessons that he learned along the way while growing 2 SaaS software companies.
Failure is a natural part of life, and also a natural part of business. It’s how we learn to get better as humans. Fear of failure is one of the biggest things that hold us back, and learning to accept and embrace failure can make you better at what you do, even outside of business.
To help explain my point, let’s look at some famous failures, and how these people bounced back.
1. Michael Jordan. One of my favorite quotes on failure comes from the greatest basketball player of all time. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
2. Henry Ford actually went bankrupt with his first company, Detroit Automobile Corporation, and then later came back with the Ford Motor Company.
3. Richard Branson has failed many times in his career, but that makes sense when you launch over 100 companies.
4. Twitter was born because of a failure. The company Odeo wasn’t working, and they needed to rebrand.
5. Ben Huh, the founder of I Can Haz Cheezburger failed with his first company Raydium, and ultimately lost a bunch of money in the process. He’s since bounced back, as Cheezburger is one of the biggest blog networks on the web.
6. Thomas Edison‘s teachers told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.”. He also famously invented over 1,000 light bulbs before one actually worked.
7. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Walt Disney is probably one of the most imaginative people ever.
8. Albert Einstein didn’t speak until age four and didn’t read until age seven. His teachers labeled him “slow” and “mentally handicapped.”. They were obviously wrong, Einstein is a genius.
9. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her television reporting job because they told her she wasn’t fit to be on screen.
As you can see, if these people gave up after failing, the world might be a different place. The people I talk about in these examples are some of the greatest success stories of our time.
One of the most important lessons I can give is to learn from your failures. Consider it a PhD in entrepreneurship, so it was money and time well spent, not wasted. You can learn a lot of lessons from your failures, and take those for when you move on to your next venture. Hopefully your next venture is a massive success, with lots of employees, an incredible company culture, and happy shareholders.
Failure is like a badge of honor, because you can confidently say that you’ve been through that wild ride, and you’ll be more prepared for your next venture.
As with most entrepreneurs, it’s hard to let failure slow you down. There’s just this passion, or feeling that entrepreneurs have that they need to start something new. They always have tons of great ideas.
Do you think failure is good for entrepreneurs? Let me know in the comments!
About the Author: Jeff Fermin is the Director of Officevibe – a corporate team building platform that allows offices to work together in order to be healthier, happier and more productive.