The very definition of an entrepreneur includes some degree of risk taking. With risk comes the opportunity for success, and also the chance of failure. For me, both as an entrepreneur and also an educator, the concept of facing up to the potential for failure in the face of terrible odds for business success, is endlessly fascinating. And one thing I particularly like about teaching entrepreneurship is that the university provides a safe laboratory-type environment in which aspiring entrepreneurs can test their business model and create “what if” scenarios to look at the impact of their decision making.
As I like to explain it – better to watch an idea crash and burn while still in graduate school that to launch the idea with substantial funding, only to watch the plan fall apart. Here, we simply call it learning.
Learning in the real world certainly includes its share of trials, tribulations, stumbles and outright failures. Of course, often we can avoid many of the typical land mines by adopting a very customer-centric “lean” approach and an iterative process that leads us to the right business model based on customer feedback. But even in the best-executed plans, there are bound to be occasional setbacks or complete failures, even if only temporary.
If you are a “glass is half-full” guy like me, you understand that a setback of any kind is also an opportunity to learn from our mistake and vow to never repeat it. Just as here at the university, we consider that learning – the hard way, for sure, but learning nonetheless. As entrepreneurs, we know that when we fall flat on our face, it’s time to get up and try again. And guess what? Those who do and never ever give up are much more likely to be part of that very small percentages of businesses who survive the first most difficult years.
Are you afraid of failure? My advice for entrepreneurs: get over it!