Entrepreneurs seem to carry a deep shame associated with failure. The only way a company can truly innovate is by facing the possibility of failure. The most valuable lesson that can be learnt from failure, is to get up and try again. People that are terrified of failure, don’t try new things. They don’t innovate, they don’t move forward, and they cannot disrupt.
Create a fail forward environment
Aim to be curios, adventurous and take risks within reason. Risk taking is where the magic happens. Encourage creativity, experimentation and risk within your company. Examine your company’s feelings towards failure. Failure should not be seen as taboo, but rather encouraged. It should be seen as a learning opportunity.
Failure isn’t fatal
In the America, people are less afraid of failure. It’s a badge of honour for which they are extremely proud. When they miss their targets, they change the goal post. They push their boundaries which drives innovation. Failure is not fatal, it is required in order to achieve success. The only way we learn is from our failures. As a business owner, you need to accept that failure is inevitable.
Pride takes the biggest hit
No one likes to fail. People work hard to avoid it. Often the only thing that really hurts is our pride. Research shows that those have accomplished anything have faced multiple difficulties. The only difference is that they dusted themselves off and got right back on that horse. Failure should not be deemed a personal deficiency. Shifting the relationship with failure is paramount to success. By running away from failure, you risk not discovering what you are truly capable of.
Here are some tips on how to fail fast and fail forward:
Don’t personalize failure
Failure is not personal. Your business is its own brand and has its own identity. Failure is an event, not a person. It is something that happens within your business and not to you. Trying something and not getting the results you want does not mean that you are not a success. Learn from the results and see where you can improve. And then try again.
Failure is not a life sentence
It is a moment, not an eternity. You failed this time, in this moment. As the saying goes “this too shall pass”. Failure is not final, and it is not permanent. Do not resign yourself to giving up because of a moment in time.
It’s all about trial and error
We have to give ourselves permission to fail in order to learn. Failure is required in order to fine tune your skills. It is necessary in order to develop your product or service offering. It is an opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t. What your client likes and what they do not. Learning about what doesn’t work can often be more valuable than learning about what does.
If you see that something is not working, do not invest any more time, energy or money into it. In other words, do not try to flog a dead horse. The hardest part of failing forward is calling it quits. However, the only way to fail forward is to fail. Know when something is not working and call it. You need to have courage to fail. Then learn from it and move on.
Never stop failing
The more successful you become, the less inclined you are to risk. You don’t want to lose what you have. You now deem yourself a winner. The problem with this mentality is that you will become stagnant. You will grow no further. What is the risk in not failing? What is the risk if you do?
Failure is not the end
In conclusion, create an environment where failing forward is accepted and encouraged. It should form part of your learning culture in order to continuously seek improvements. The faster and the harder you fail, the less afraid you become of this “f” word. You will come out the other side stronger and more equipped.