People Management

How to turn failure into success

Photo by Bahaa A. Shawqi from Pexels

In business and in life, there is a rule that all successful entrepreneurs know and that is: Fail Fast!

I’ve made mistakes at every step of my career. We are accustomed to see fail / failure as a bad thing. “If you failed, it’s bad, you screwed up”. No, you just learned how not to do things. Therefore, failure in itself can have at least one good outcome. In fact, all successful businesspeople have encountered failure at least once in their life, usually when they started and that is the moment when you can be put down the easiest, having just hopes and dreams. However, those that succeeded, gave it one more try, because… it’s always too early to quit.

Failing fast, emphasizes the second term. If you fail fast:

  • You limit the impact
  • You can correct it fast
  • The impact on resources spent is minimum
  • Damage control is easier

This doesn’t mean ignoring risk, it doesn’t mean to do a sloppy job and whatever happens, happens, just throw your product / presentation out into the market. No. The idea is you don’t have to wait for things to be perfect, nor failproof. It’s important to capture momentum and release your idea / attempt into the world as soon as you can. Things are improved iteratively, afterwards.

Think about swimming. If you want to become a swimmer, first step is to get into the water and get a few hands-on notions, so that you don’t drown. We all failed at this when we first tried and we corrected what was not working. At that moment you don’t think about the Olympics or triathlons. Basically, you first learn how to float, then how to swim in shallow waters. Once you master this, you evolve, learning new styles, endurance and more. Iteratively.

The opposite would be ridiculous. Imagine you want to learn how to swim and you start reading a book about it (!), then investigate what’s the best method with the fastest results. Perhaps even identify what’s the best water or water temperature to start learning. Then, months later, when you actually decide to take action, you face the same challenges somebody who didn’t take all your precautions already faced months ago. Time is a precious resource, in fact it’s the only resource we know for sure it will not be coming back once it’s been spent. So stop finding excuses to procrastinate. Do what you can, but do it now.

It goes the same way in business. You might say that failure can be costly. While you wait to release the perfect product or offer the perfect services, you obviously don’t make any money in the mean time. You also have to pay those people supporting you to have the ‘perfect’ utopic product (even if it’s just you, as the bills will not wait for you to reach perfection). Besides, nobody says you start marketing a new idea or business at a global scale. You first release to a smaller group of enthusiasts, see how it goes, then you expand.

Ideas that are just in our head can never produce effects, unless we let them out. Once you free an idea from this cage and put it into shape, whether it’s a piece of writing, a presentation, an image, a software, a design or a product, it can produce effects. Usually a ripple effect or a butterfly effect.

Be brave, fail fast and learn from it. Then get back up and be ready to fail fast again, cause this time you might succeed instead!

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