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Why failure is all part of succeeding in business

DATE: 27/07/20

AUTHOR: Fiona Kennedy

No fear of failure?

Talk to any successful entrepreneur and it won’t take long before you hear of the failures they met on their road to business success. Whether they failed in their crowd funding efforts, were fired from their first job or launched several unsuccessful businesses before meeting their current success, failure is part and parcel of getting it right. In fact, in every success story, it’s clear that failure is just part of business.

Traditionally we are encouraged to fear failure. To see failure as, well, failure. As children we are pushed to succeed, to do well at everything and as a result, the fear of failure can be great and in some cases, debilitating. After all, what’s the worst thing that might happen if you fail? Understanding that failure is actually just learning, and seeing it as a stepping stone to improvement is an important part of any successful business.

Rather than being discouraged, learning how to fail better, can actually help us to succeed.


Why failure should be welcomed

We’re not suggesting that everyone should be chasing failure, more that failure itself should not be feared. Without taking risks and exposing yourself to failure, there can be no progress, there can be no innovation, and there can be no success. Failure has value in many ways.

Failure is a journey to reflect on

Yes failure can be hard at the time. It can feel as though there is no hope and very little path to move ahead with. However, if you can take a step back and do a post-failure analysis, you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.

Consider a few questions:

Can you think back to what you really hoped to achieve at the outset?;
In the end, what actually happened?;
What you might have done differently had you the knowledge you have now?; 
Are there learnings you can take away from this in order to do better next time?

Once you’ve answered these questions, your findings will inform your next steps, your next business, and the next risk you take. Your ‘failed’ experience may in fact give you the information you needed to be able to succeed next time.


The gift of resilience and perseverance

Getting everything right every time is wonderful but it’s not going to encourage you to be anything other than expectant. On the other hand, when you make a mistake, learning how to pick yourself up again and carry on, is invaluable. Perseverance and application can get you far and the experience of moving forward after failure will be a lifeline throughout your career.

Failure forces reevaluation

There are times in our lives and in our businesses when we need to fail. We need the push to look at things differently. Whether it’s the job we’ve been doing and what we truly want to do with our lives? Or perhaps it’s the way we’ve been working? Did we spend all our time focusing on the product and forget to connect with customers? Have we lost control of the bottom line and need to refocus on what the business can and cannot do? Whatever the mistakes or failures along the way, using them to stop and look differently at yourself and your business is a gift.

Nothing lasts forever

Failure, like everything else is fleeting. It seems horrifying at the time. It is hard to imagine how you’re going to move forward but it will end. Knowing that and thinking what you can take from the situation is the best way to handle failure.

Famous failures

There are countless successful entrepreneurs who have experienced failure in their path to business success and it’s useful to remember this if you’re considering launching your own business. Even the very best and most profitable entrepreneurs have come up against problems and failure and most, if not all, will talk about how those failures actually brought them to where they are now.

Jeff Bezos

The Amazon founder originally launched an online auction site called zShops which he hoped would rival Ebay. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be but the lessons he learned through this failure armed him to develop the Amazon Marketplace side of his current billion dollar business.

Richard Branson

Richard talks frequently about the failures he has met on his path through entrepreneurialism. From being arrested for breaking publishing laws when he was running a student magazine to launching many unsuccessful companies before succeeding in his Virgin brand.

Vera Wang

Vera hit a few career roadblocks before becoming a celebrated fashion designer. Originally a highly trained ice skater, she failed to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team before being turned down as the Editor in Chief at US Vogue.

Walt Disney

Long before the success of the Disney empire, Walt himself was working as a newspaper editor and was fired for having no good ideas and zero imagination.

Evan Williams

Before Evan co-founded Twitter, he had conceived of and developed a podcasting platform called Odeo. Unfortunately around the same time, Apple launched a podcast section in their iTunes offering and Odeo couldn’t compete.


It’s hard to find any established business person that cannot name failures along their path to success so perhaps we need to look at the process of failing as one to embrace. Learning from what goes wrong and pivoting ideas or expectations, can make our next step into the world of business, a whole lot more successful.




Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.