Sunday, March 20, 2011

How Can Failure Benefit Entrepreneurs?

Once the man arrived at a certain stage of evolution where he has been called ‘ civilized’ the biggest fear in his life has been the fear of failure. In our civilized societies, which are driven by defined patterns of activities bound by cultures, everyone wants to be successful as per the defined parameters of the society. Speaking specifically in the Indian context, in our generation we [people in their early thirties and forties] are considered successful if we get a ‘job’ and if we are constantly getting promotions and salary hike every year. Any college graduate who has not secured a job on campus faces the humiliation of not ‘getting accepted’ in his family, friends and even in the corporate world. That’s how ‘getting a job’ [after your studies] is wired into our minds. We fail to consider anything else as a possibility as that is not the preferred metrics for success in our current societal mindset.

Since nobody wants to fail, hence nobody wants to risk into venturing out differently. Entrepreneurship also gets the same treatment. Entrepreneurship is fairly a new ideology yet to be absorbed by the parents so that they can show it as an alternative or preferred career to their children. Entrepreneurship is equal to taking high risk and of course implies high risk of failure where your start-up may not even survive beyond a year! All the seminars, magazines, blogs etc., talk about successes to show the positives of entrepreneurship and hence make it an attractive discipline to follow. But here I would like to emphasize on the Benefits of Failure for an Entrepreneur to be actually successful.

Though failure by itself is relative but when measured by the metrics laid down by our society and culture, there are a few common threads which define success or failure of people in that society. Anyone who has not tasted failure lives in constant denial that he/she is invincible. But the fact of life is that everyone has to fail and would have failed at least once in his or her life - either in personal life or in professional life or some times in both. So it is wise to accept that failure is a part of life. As an Entrepreneur this will be extremely helpful because possibility of failing is much much higher than the possibility succeeding.

Failure teaches many lessons which success does not teach. Failure teaches perseverance, brings out the fortitude to correct the mistakes and try again, removes the fear of failure itself, instills higher self-confidence to bounce back, gives you a chance of honest introspection of your strengths and weaknesses and teaches you astute ability to analyse situations. At the rock bottom that the failure brings you to, you are very likely to put all your energy and mind into building your dream as at the rock bottom you lose the fear of losing anymore. And when such a situation happens, success becomes inevitable.

So as an entrepreneur you should not fear failure. Most likely you will fail in your first venture. But then you will have gained experience which will be unparalleled, and you will be able to judge the best of what ‘to do’ and what ‘not to do’. The world of entrepreneurship talks about success stories. But seldom do people talk about failures. There are many entrepreneurs whose success stories we all read but we do not know about their failed ventures. All of such entrepreneurs have had the taste of failure and have bounced back only to emerge as successful entrepreneurs.