Many of us dream of one day starting a company and successfully scaling the venture into a market leading position over a certain duration of time.
But for most that have this dream, they stop dead in their tracks even before giving themselves an opportunity to put their pen to paper. This is because there is a cultural mentality here in America that has been ingrained within each of us- fear of failure.
Our society structures education and thought around consequences, instead of possibility.
In school we’re taught to be ‘perfect’ – to get good grades and memorize the total of 12×12 – because this is supposedly what success looks like. In the world of entrepreneurship, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Realize that failure is not the end of anything – it’s an important journey as an entrepreneur, and it’s also just the beginning of your learning and growth.
Think of failure as a speed bump on the sometimes rocky road toward success. There are very few ‘hockey stick’ companies in this world. Most companies face a plethora of trials and tribulations at every step of their growth.
If you don’t believe me, then just take a look at the stories of some of the biggest successes around, and how they failed their way into becoming legends:
R. H. Macy
Let’s start right here in the New York community, with the founder of the world famous Macy’s department store chain.
No one would argue that they are a huge success, would they? Except the department store chain was not R.H. Macy’s first attempt at business…..or his second.
R.H. Macy founded SEVEN other failed companies before he finally found success in New York.
World renowned for having invented the light bulb and founding General Electric, everyone knows the success of Thomas Edison.
But guess what – he did not strike it lucky the first time round – not even close. In fact, it took Edison no less than ONE THOUSAND attempts before he finally succeeded in perfecting the light bulb.
Ford may be one of the world’s biggest motor corporations, and the first to have commercial success with car production, but Henry Ford certainly didn’t succeed the first time round either.
Henry tried, and failed, FIVE times to start other companies before he finally started what is still one of the world’s biggest motor companies.
Walt Disney’s visions have given us fantastic movies, created theme parks that put most others around the world to shame, and a legacy that continues to this day.
Once again, Disney wasn’t always a huge success though. In fact, before he founded the start-up that would one day become the Disney empire, Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job.
The reason? The editor did not think he had any imagination.
The harsh reality in life is that hardly anyone gets it right on their first attempt.
Abraham Lincoln failed in the army, in business and even in politics before he became one of America’s most famous presidents. Scientists like Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin faced ridicule before they found fame. Western Union turned down an offer from Bell Telephone to buy them out, because they could not see the project being a success.
Each legend featured above eventually proved their critics wrong, and that’s exactly what successful entrepreneurs do – they accept criticism, realize that failure is inevitable, but (in the face of adversity) keep going anyway.
Everyone fails sometime in their lives – it’s what you do with that failure that makes all the difference.
What Do They Have In Common?
At first glance, this motley crew of entrepreneurs don’t seem to have much in common. Macy founded one of the world’s greatest department stores, Edison brought his own dreams to life, Ford took other people’s inventions and made them a commercial success, and Walt Disney captured the imagination of children and adults around the world.
The one thing these entrepreneurs did have in common though was the belief that one day, somehow, they would succeed. Instead of letting failure, being broke, and even the ridicule of others stand in their way, each entrepreneur embraced their setback as a learning experience. They knew that every failure brought them one step closer to success.
Failure Can Help You
Whether you’re trying to get a company off the ground in a competitive market like New York City or out in the middle of nowhere in Montana, there’s a lesson in this for you.
The lesson is that failure is a great learning tool – it’s the start of something even better.
There’s a world of possibility out there, and giving up is not an option. And if you do think giving up is an option, go back to your 9-5 job, because that’s the mentality at a desk job.
Samuel Beckett once said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Remember – as long as you keep trying, one day, you’ll succeed.
It’s only when you quit that you truly fail.