While discussing inventions, Thomas Edison’s associate, Walter S. Mallory, once said to him, “Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done, you haven’t been able to get any results?”
Edison replied, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.”
People tend to see success as positive and failure as a negative, but Edison’s quote shows this isn’t always the case. There are many valuable lessons you can learn from failure, and this knowledge can help you become a more successful and productive entrepreneur.
At its most basic definition, failure is a lack of success. For businesses, failure can take on many shapes and forms. Failure could mean you were unable to land a big sale or refer to a marketing campaign that never got the results you were looking for. You can also fail in your hiring practices or training opportunities.
However, it can also refer to your business as a whole. A business failure occurs when a company shuts down after consistently being unable to turn a profit. However, it is important to note that not all company closures are failures.
If a company owner closes a profitable company to pursue different career opportunities, if the business was always intended to be temporary or the business owner dies or retires, the business is likely not closing due to failure.
People often discount the part that failure plays in success, preferring to cling to the myth of overnight success. When Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz was asked how he felt about the company’s seemingly quick success, he said, “If by overnight success you mean staying up and coding all night, every night for six years straight, then it felt quite tiring and stressful.”
Rarely in the business world is there success without failure. As you pursue your entrepreneurial dreams, you’re going to fail. It’s often said that failure doesn’t stop people; it’s how people handle failure that stops them.
When you encounter failure, tackle it head on and learn from your mistakes. Realize that every idea that pops up in your mind isn’t going to work. Take the time to organize your thoughts after a failure and realize what you did wrong. Above all else, be willing to learn and grow.
When you’re doing well in life, it feels like nothing can stop you. There are no words that can properly pin down feeling like you’re on top of the world. However, when failure hits, it hurts. Sometimes it hurts so bad that you think you’ll never be successful again.
Staying humble helps curb the dramatic feeling of loss and failure. While you’re flying high on the feelings of success, never forget that you’re human, and treat everyone with the same humility and respect that you expect in return.
When you’re humble, you’ll be mentally prepared for failure when it comes your way. It will also ensure that you don’t get a “big head.” Plus, people who are close to you will help lift you up when things are not going your way.
It’s almost impossible to find a story of success that doesn’t have a trail of mistakes behind it. Nearly everyone experiences failure at some point in their life. The key to overcoming obstacles and becoming successful starts with learning from your mistakes.
When failure strikes, ask yourself why it happened. Was it a result of something you did? Or did an outside force play a part?
Don’t be afraid to be accountable when you’re responsible for a business failure. In many cases, something could have been done differently to prevent the collapse. Think deeply about your situation and don’t be afraid to do a little soul-searching.
One of the ways to learn from your failures is by embracing change. Some people absolutely despise change, and it’s easy to see why. People get caught up in their ways, they get used to seeing the same people at the office, and they like the routine.
When you fail, sometimes you have to change things drastically. If things are not going your way and you have to start over, sometimes you have to sit back and look at the changes that need to be made and embrace them.
When you embrace change after a failure, you’re encouraging healthy mental growth and development. If you want to be a healthy entrepreneur, you have to be a mentally healthy human being.
Not every idea that pops into your mind is a good one. When you’re on a roll, it’s easy to want to act on every business idea that comes to mind.
Maybe you’re thinking about making a new product, or perhaps you want to beef up your marketing campaign. You could just have a bunch of blog ideas that you know will generate more traffic.
Slow down. The best thing you can do to filter through your ideas is to take notes. Either carry around a small notepad or download an app to your smartphone or laptop. As ideas pop up, jot them down. Give your thoughts time to marinate before you act on them.
There is a saying that for every good idea, there are 100 bad ones. Bad ideas can lead to failure on both a small and large scale. Note your thoughts and revisit them in the coming hours, days or even weeks. In most cases, you’ll discover that most of your ideas were not as good as you initially thought.
Of course, failure doesn’t feel good. Not accomplishing your goal can leave you feeling unmotivated or even that you shouldn’t be trying to run a business.
But you can look at it another way: If you fail, you open yourself up to learning from it. It may seem paradoxical, but learning from failure teaches you unique and vital lessons.
Learning from failure is important because:
Jamie Johnson and Max Freedman contributed to this article.