Why is Failing at Your First Startup a Good Thing for Your Entrepreneurial Career?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Failure Builds Tenacity
One critical component for success as an entrepreneur is tenacity. If things work seamlessly out of the gate, that’s great. But if you fall down and pick yourself back up, you’ll know that you have the fighting spirit it takes to succeed. There is no shame in failing; you only fail if you quit. So keep going.
2. It Shows That You’re Not Invincible
Though I hate failing, it does help me to realize that I’m not the greatest out there and I can actually fail at business. It helps me to know when to give up and when to push through. Failing can be the best thing in the world for entrepreneurs whose egos are up in the sky. It brings them (myself included) back down to earth.
3. We Learn From Things That Hurt Us
Humans are amazing. We communicate both visually and verbally using the most advanced parts of our brains, but we take in information using the most primal. As a result, our brains learn the most from our most primal experiences. It’s why we instinctively don’t touch a hot stove. We know it will burn. When we fail in business, we learn from those experiences because of the pain.
4. It’s an Opportunity to Build Your Reputation
When you fail, you learn a lot. But one thing that’s often missed is how much a failure can build your reputation. Were you upfront with your investors? Did you support your employees on the way out? Did you show both the determination to try and save it, as well as the intelligence to know when to shut it down? Your reputation will carry you to success in your next venture.
5. You Weren’t Ready
This may be a sign that you weren’t yet ready to run a business. You needed some experience, more contacts, a better financial position, a different economic cycle, or an ideal point in your life before starting a business. And, since those things were not aligned with the idea of running a business, you now have time to work on those issues before tackling another one.
6. Failing Helps Keep Us Humble
The value that failure provides extends beyond the mistakes we made with strategy, tactics and process. Failure keeps us grounded and humble. It reminds us that things are difficult and sometimes out of our control. It serves as a contrast necessary to value future successes. Lastly, it helps us stay gracious and supportive when we encounter others who are failing or having a hard time.
7. You’re More Motivated for Your Next Startup
Those who have a chip on their shoulder with something to prove are often the hungriest, most tenacious entrepreneurs. Founding a startup requires an extreme amount of motivation and persistence, and those who are able to persevere over the long-term often become the most successful. The same is true for the employees you hire as well.
8. You Pick Better Partners
I learned the hard way in an early startup that picking the right co-founder can make or break your business. I founded my last company with my father, and my most recent startup with my husband. Trusting your co-founder is the recipe for success.
9. Better Opportunities Can Come from Failing Forward
My first business was an event company, though I quickly moved away from it to focus on bigger and better opportunities. I’m glad that it never grew into something bigger, as I realize now that I wasn’t thinking big enough at the time. I could have been stuck with a small opportunity while missing the big picture. The experience allowed me to fail forward onto better opportunities.
10. You Can Become Better Equipped to Handle Future Challenges
If your first startup falls flat, you’ll know what mistakes to avoid in your next venture. Failing forward and failing fast makes you better equipped to handle future challenges. Mistakes are only a bad thing if you don’t learn from them. Get the lesson so you can move on.
11. Initial Failure Can Make You a Stronger Entrepreneur
Failing at your first startup may make you stronger and more resilient, and can help you in future endeavors. Just make sure you identify what went wrong on the first go-round, and put measures in place so those things don’t occur again.