“If you fail, then learn your lesson and try again. And again. And again until you succeed.”
That is our penultimate line in the last post entitled “Is Franchising the Road to Entrepreneurial Success”. This post now therefore hopes to pick up where we left off, and elaborate on such line.
Well, although practically everybody has experienced failure at one time or another, the fact is that we earthlings still can’t help feeling bad or shaking out that terrible feeling of failure once it happens. In computer parlance, we are “hardwired” to feel bad when we get thwarted with our desired outcomes.
This post is not meant to dwell much about success or failure in other endeavors. There is a deluge of literature about success and how to handle failure in life and we certainly do not want to add to such oversupply.
Aside from the greatest classics like “Think and Grow Rich,” there are so many recent works being peddled by the self-proclaimed gurus who just made it.
We are more concerned here about succeeding in business – something more difficult than in any other endeavor. Or more specifically, we are more concerned about failing in business which is practically a prerequisite for succeeding.
While failure in other endeavors – in career, in love life, in politics, in a cause one cares about or in struggles for just about anything – can be debilitating, failures in business can have a most crippling effect.
In the first place, one can lose the savings of a lifetime, that is, if one is foolhardy enough to put all his eggs in one basket of a business.
In the second place, a business failure can take a very heavy toll on one’s morale and the will to fight. This is not to mention the toll it can have on one’s health. There could have been so much expectation being built up. And the more expectations having built up, the more frustrating the outcome of any failure.
As I have said in a previous post, it is far easier to succeed in mutual funds and stocks.
Well, I am getting ahead of schedule, as I have not even touched anything about mutual funds or stocks yet . But frankly, in mutual funds and stock investing, one just needs to stick it out with a few principles through thick and thin. And by sticking it out, he will likely have at least, moderately successful results.
Ask Jimmy Rogers, the equally legendary original partner at Quantum Fund of the famed hedge fund manager and super-speculator George Soros. The guy swears that part of his investment strategy is just sit around and wait until there is money there waiting to be picked up.
Not in business, there is so much dynamics involved. One cannot just sit it out, stay idle and wait till the right time comes. No action, no business.
I believe and therefore strongly suggest that if there is one thing to expect and probably even embrace in business, it is probably failure.
We have to learn how to fail without feeling that the whole world is crumbling down on us and then, move to try and try again.
The great Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm”.
One can make the most elaborate Business Plan or Project Feasibility Study and burn his midnight candle to prepare his homework. But things can go wrong nevertheless.
There are so many things out of one’s control. The market may just be too oversaturated that sales projected proved too over-optimistic. Oil price may spike again and again to magnify your costs of doing business.
Your recruited trusted guy may find other opportunities and suddenly resign and the replacement may prove too unreliable.
A super-typhoon may just hit your province or city (God forbids) and demolish your warehouse full of inventory ready for sale.
Anything can happen. This is business and you cannot divine or provide for every possibility or for everything. You face risk every hour of the waking day… and even in your unwaking hours.
The one big point I would like to make in this post is that one who goes into business should be prepared to fail. He should be prepared to face failure without getting devastated in assets or more importantly, in spirit.
This also means that he should not put all his eggs in the basket that is his business. Or that, as far as possible, he should not bet his house on his business. Mortgaging ones house to plunge into business is a surefire way to get devastated in spirit if one fails.
This also means that he should have some orientation to detach himself from the outcome of this effort at business. By being prepared psychologically, he will be poised to move on and try again after the failure.
One should remember what Soichiro Honda said:
“Success can be achieved only through repeated failure. My success represents the 1% of the work that resulted from the 99% that was called failure.”
More importantly, he should internalize what the great English poet John Keats, said:
“Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success in as much as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly for what is true.”
Well, the latter quote encapsulates what probably is the greatest principle towards success, not just about business but in life in general as well.