The right way to fail in business

The Right Way to Fail in Business

The Right Way to Fail in Business

The Right Way to Fail in Business

The Right Way to Fail in Business

Failure has become the new “it” thing in town.  It seems like everyone, from the talking heads to psychologists and even your nosy Aunt Sally is going gaga over the perks of falling flat on your face. And truth be told, they’re not entirely wrong. Failing in business is an essential part of the path to success. But let me drop a truth bomb on you: Failure alone won’t cut it. Nope, not even close. The real key is that you have to have the right mindset around failure. It’s all about adopting that magical perspective that turns setbacks into stepping stones and blunders into brilliant opportunities. To that end, here’s one of the top entrepreneurship lessons I can give. 

What Energizes You?

Many, if not most, business owners I’ve met get excited about landing big clients and cashing big checks. But my team knows I’m different. I’m proud of our wins but don’t revel in them. Instead, I get energized by our failures. I get amped up when we lose a bid or when I make a shitty decision, and it costs us. These things get my attention because they’re where we have the most significant opportunities. 

I’ve learned through the years that failing and adapting is the only way to get good at anything. You flop, you analyze why, you figure out what to do differently, adapt, and try again. Each failure is like a brick you keep stacking, which eventually builds to your success. It might take two tries and 200 tries – the key is that you keep trying. 

The people who win are the ones who keep going back to the drawing board and giving it another go – and this is where people get the failure conversation wrong. They talk about failing, but that’s only one part of it. You see, a failure can knock you down, leaving you sprawled on the ground, dazed and disoriented. And while that may make for a compelling story, it does little for your growth. But if you get back up and open yourself up to the possibility of failing again, that’s when you’ll learn a little more and move a little closer to success. 

Take The Most (Improved) Shots 

In a recent blog, I wrote about the biggest experience of failure in my career as an entrepreneur, which happened when the market crashed in 2008. But failures don’t just happen once a decade; they happen constantly. Just a few months ago, for example, a prospective client, a name that carries weight and meets every criterion of our ideal clientele, danced into our lives, and we couldn’t deliver. In those critical initial meetings, our focus was divided amongst our existing clients, leaving us scrambling to piece together a presentation that did not showcase our finest work. And, unsurprisingly, we were eliminated from the running. 

It sucked. But it also got me fired up. I had to figure out where we went wrong and what we should’ve done differently – and I did. We got through the loss and the disappointment, and then we got busy. We changed our processes, got a new software system to help us better manage our workload, and restructured our approach to bidding on projects. We began analyzing everything we do, leading us to better, more intelligent choices. 

Since then, we’ve had record sales each month and quarter. We’re on track to accomplish some of our biggest goals. Our team is revved up, and our prospective clients feel it. Yes, we failed and lost a major client. But that failure taught us we weren’t doing enough to win clients in the first place. It told us we could improve, so we decided to rise to that. 

I want to leave you with this: Michael Jordan, arguably one of the greatest basketball players and athletes to ever, serves as a shining example of resilience and unwavering determination. As astonishing as it may seem, let us not forget that Jordan actually held the record for the most missed shots in the NBA for a significant period—an astonishing tally exceeding 9,000 failed attempts throughout his career. Now, picture this: had Michael succumbed to the allure of repeating the same failing shot repeatedly, we would not be celebrating his status as the undisputed GOAT today. He possessed a rare quality—the audacity to embrace failure as a transformative tool. Instead of shying away from missed shots, he fearlessly took each one. He diversified his approach, altering his form, experimenting with new angles, and extracting invaluable lessons from each failed attempt.

That is the part of the failure equation that often gets overlooked. Don’t just fail; fail over and over, and learn from it every time. Fail enough until you succeed – and then get ready to fail again. Like in a video game, the next level will be even more challenging. 

Interested in working with a company that learns from its mistakes and champions its clients as they do the same? Let’s talk!

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