Failure is very much part of the entrepreneurial journey. However, depending on your attitude towards failure, it can significantly affect your chances of future success.
Failure can make you doubt your abilities and cost you time, money and hope. It’s a painful experience that almost every founder goes through at least once, but more often several times. But it’s those who have the self-awareness and resilience to admit they messed up, recognise where they went wrong and start over with new lessons learned that are ultimately successful.
Here are three ways to use failure to drive your success:
1. See failure as a learning opportunity
Resenting failure or pretending it didn’t happen is a surefire way to either keep on failing or, worse, stagnate. Instead of getting angry and despondent, look back on the journey and pinpoint areas where things started to go wrong—maybe it was employing the wrong people, weak marketing or not looking after your books—and make sure to place more focus and emphasis on these aspects next time round.
2. Don’t be afraid to let failure take you in a new direction
When we set out as entrepreneurs, we usually have an exact vision of what we want our business to be and indeed who we want to be. Maybe you’ve been particularly passionate about a sector or product for a long time and decided that’s what you want to create. But then you fail.
This doesn’t mean it’s not meant to happen, but once the dust settles, ask yourself if the path you’re on is really suitable for you. Perhaps along that same ‘failed’ journey, you saw something else or met someone in a different sector and got a good feel for it. If this happens, don’t be afraid to have a serious look at pursuing a new direction—getting out of your comfort zone will not only challenge you to reach for new highs, it might reignite some of the passion that was lost.
3. Use failure as a way to hone your intuition
When you objectively review your failure, you’ll see where you went wrong but you’ll also recognise those occasions when you went left when your gut was telling you to go right. Whether through inexperience, pressure or bad advice, maybe you caved on an important decision or brought someone onto the team who you knew deep down was unsuitable.
Episodes like these, though frustrating to look back on, are reminders that you need to believe in yourself and not back down if something or someone doesn’t feel right. Yes, that might require making some tough decisions but what’ll be even tougher is making the same mistakes and failing again.
Trust your instincts.