I usually tell people ‘nothing is permanent in life‘. As the ancient Greek philosopher would say: ‘everything flows’. Nothing remains the same. And no, you will never be able to cross the same river twice.
So, how come so many entrepreneurs do not restart their business activities immediately after they fail? I have met many powerful and active men who got mentally crippled after their empires collapsed. They became unable to focus, pick up the pieces and rebuild what they lost.
In my experience, these failed cases are the norm and not the exception. Very few managed to conquer their own mental hindrances and got back onto the saddle. These few actually became even more successful than before, since they learned from past mistakes. You probably have to get bankrupt at least once in this lifetime, before you are able to appreciate your strengths and use them to your advantage.
So, what happens in an entrepreneur’s mind when s/he fails spectacularly?
1. S/he probably feels guilty for his/her past decisions. These decisions obviously affected his/her family, friends, colleagues, employees and others. It is difficult to accept that one is human and makes mistakes, if the lives of so many people are at stake.
2. The fear of future failure intensifies. Such a fear is bad enough when you go into business for the first time. After you fail once, twice or more the fear becomes more intense. Only strong minds can work through this emotion and get on the other side.
3. The entrepreneur also may feel that s/he lost his/ her reputation or air of success. This feeling hurts greatly the ego of the entrepreneur and inhibits the decision-making process.When the opinions of someone’s peers, colleagues and family matter more than it should, then a lot of negative beliefs arise: ‘I am not good/intelligent/persistent/strong/etc. enough to achieve my goal’!
Lean startup methodology is trying to address this problem. The motto is ‘fail fast, fail soon’. This way the focus is considerably shifted. The entrepreneur’s aim is not to succeed but to learn from his/her failures.Thus, failing often would indicate that the learning process is intensified. That is, of course, if the entrepreneur is learning from past mistakes and does not simply repeat them.
This methodology certainly carries us through fear to the other, the brighter side. However, there are still pitfalls to be avoided. For example, the above motto should not be the justification of failure! The aim is not to fail! The aim is to succeed! And this should always be at the back of your mind.
If you shift your focus from success to failure, you will reap exactly what you asked for. Instead, you should keep your eye on the ball, while you let the occasional failures become a lesson in business building. The failures are not to be worshipped. They should be taken seriously into account, while you strive for success.
For more information on lean startup methodology, you could take a look at my other blog posts.