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Failure isn’t something to celebrate—at least if you subscribe to conventional wisdom. Failure is seen as an ending; the end of the road. When you fail feelings of inferiority, embarrassment, and stress dominate your thoughts. Why move on? Why try again?
What if Thomas Edison embraced the conventional wisdom? How long would the world have waited before the light bulb was invented? Instead, he said this after multiple failures: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
If you look back and figure out what went wrong, you probably won’t repeat the same mistakes. Could any of these be the reason your last business failed?
1. Don’t Play the Blame Game
It’s hard to admit but before moving forward you have to embrace a harsh reality. It’s your fault. It’s not the economy’s fault, your partner’s fault, the city you live in, your lack of money, the people, the product, or the family issues you had.
It’s your fault because you were the leader. Every successful business overcame the same issues that brought you down. When you can say that you were the main reason the business failed, your mind becomes open to change.
2. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Just because it was your fault doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs founded NeXT Computer in 1985 after being forced out of Apple. The company was far from successful and Apple later purchased it and brought Jobs back. Not only was he fired from the company he founded, arguably the most brilliant business mind in recent history started a business that essentially failed.
This series of failures didn’t derail Jobs—it propelled him to further greatness. He faced the same decisions any business owners face but he chose to turn them into positives.
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3. Don’t Double Down
Talk to any Wall Street investor and they will tell you the same thing—don’t ever double down on a bad investment. In other words, resist the urge to relaunch your company bigger and better. The chances of it working are very slim. Look elsewhere. Stay within your strengths but look to something different.
4. Give Customers What THEY want
Is it possible that you had a great idea for YOU but not for your customers? Did you conduct thorough market research the first time around? Next time, make sure your customers want it, they’re willing to pay for it, and the value they place on it is enough to make your business grow.
5. Be Willing to Let It Go
Maybe the first time around you did the research but it didn’t come back favorable. Instead of abandoning the idea, you moved forward anyway. The best entrepreneurs know that being too passionate about an idea is a recipe for failure. There are plenty of ideas to choose from. Pick one that both you and your customers love.
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6. Bring in Experts
You aren’t an expert at everything. In this highly competitive world, trying to be an expert marketer, web designer, manufacturer, manager, sales associate, and accountant isn’t going to work. Build a team of experts that will improve your execution the next time.
7. But Get Your Hands Dirty
If you’re going to land a deal with billionaire investor Mark Cuban you better be ready to get your hands dirty. He’s no stranger to selling door to door and in his mind, you’re never too big or powerful to remove yourself from the sales team. Cuban said, "I still work hard to know my business. I'm continuously looking for ways to improve all my companies, and I'm always selling. Always."
8. Raise Enough Money
Some businesses require very little financial investment. If you’re in the consulting business, you might invest less than $1,000 in startup costs. But that’s not true of most businesses.
Did you have a great idea but simply ran out of money? Next time, slow down and raise enough money to buy the right equipment, rent space in a better location, and hire the right experts. When you appropriately investment in your startup, the chances of success are much higher.
9. You Weren’t Passionate
There are plenty of business opportunities with the potential of making you a lot of money but if you aren’t passionate about it, there’s little chance of success. Cuban says, “Love what you do or don't do it." It doesn't matter if home automation is where the money is right now if you don't care about it and have no experience in it. Follow what you know and love.”
10. You Didn’t Commit
There are plenty of businesses competing for your customers. Starting as a part-time endeavor works in some cases but don’t expect to make a lot of money. Other businesses require you to be all in. Did you pour yourself into your business? Was it more than a full time job or did life’s other responsibilities get in your way?
You’re competing against people who are working on their business non-stop. If you don’t have that kind of time, your might need to see your business more as a hobby than a full time endeavor.
Thomas Edison said something better than his famous 10,000 failures quote. He said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Whatever happened, don’t give up. As somebody who failed, you join the ranks of the most successful business leaders in history. The question becomes how will you respond? Will you learn from the failure or give up?
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