Failure in the world of entrepreneurship is constant. To put it one way, none of the ideas and projects I have worked on has been successful (although hopefully that will change soon). Failure comes in many forms; it’s the reaction to this failure that ends up defining a company. Failure can cause minor changes to a startup, redefine a startup, or bring an end to a startup. Failure is also the reason the most successful start-ups are able to take on the world.
Whatever the magnitude of your failure, the most important aspect is to ensure you take away a lesson. From my own failures I have learned the importance of customer development and ensuring a real problem is being solved. Also, I have seen first hand how changes in team dynamics can cripple a venture. Both of these lessons will help me ensure I am focusing my time on real problems and keeping team dynamics strong.
John Krumboltz is a leading thinker in failure and the author of Fail Fast Fail Often: How Losing can Help You Win. He explains how important failure is for successful leaders and companies. Krumboltz is a very strong believer in failure, and he has been quoted as saying: “If we could think of failing as a path towards success, then I think we would all be better off”. It is important to keep this mindset when facing the hardship of entrepreneurship.
As students, we are in the perfect place to fail. For the most part, we have limited responsibility – no family we need to take care of, very few bills, and we’re young and resilient. School, specifically universities where other smart individuals surround us, is the perfect place to test our ideas and fail constantly. Now is the time to get the silly lessons out of the way, so that when we move into the “real-world” we are even better prepared to succeed with our ventures.