Startups · Entrepreneurship

How comfortable are you with failure?

Mike Manangan --

September 29th, 2016

Everyone that I come accross keeps talking about the failing fast philosophy. I am not a big fan of failure itself…

Joe Albano, PhD Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.

September 29th, 2016

To me, "Fail Fast" is a somewhat inaccurate shorthand for the lean business process: 
  1. Form hypotheses 
  2. Perform the fastest, cheapest test possible 
  3. Adjust your hypotheses based on results (pivot) 
But I guess that sounds less sexy than "fail fast". 

Tom DiClemente Management Consulting | Interim CEO/COO | Coach

September 29th, 2016

Failing, to me, is essential to being successful, by any measure. If you don't fail, you're not trying hard enough, you're not risking commensurate with the rewards you seek. I started in software, then into manufacturing, and then back to software. In all cases, I have been a big proponent of run to failure. In this mode, you keep increasing speed and shortening cycle time until you fail. Failure tells you where to improve so you can make the next step function leap in improvement. It's not that I'm comfortable with failure. You go to bed sometimes worried that you're going to fail. In my experience, it has paid off in all but one situation. That one is out of nine startups in which I was the founder, four mid-sized turnarounds, and three stints as a global CEO of companies in the $billion range. The one failure was one of the startups and losses were minimized. Again, it's not so much being comfortable with failure. If you don't take failure seriously, you don't learn so you are never "comfortable" with the experience. Rather it's a matter of facing failure and using it as a learning experience to leap to the next level.

Bob Sharon Member and active supporter at Citizens' Climate Lobby

September 29th, 2016

I failed slow, over four years, just pouring good money after bad. Had I have followed some good common sense principles and taken onboard a good advisor/mentor, and had I have listed to those wise people around me, the business would most likely be going today. Having said that, I went through a heavy course at The University of Life that has taught me so many things which I am now applying (though I have still much to learn). So I am now better equipped to move forward, advise others and build our own businesses from valuable lessons learned.

Bob Sharon Member and active supporter at Citizens' Climate Lobby

September 29th, 2016

I agree with you 100% Tom. How many times did Thomas Edison fail until he perfected the light bulb?

Rob Mitchell Senior Java Software Engineer at Direct Commerce

September 30th, 2016

Failing vs fail-fast are different. As already discussed, fail-fast is a technique to try something and adjust/pivot quickly based on initial results. Failing and, dare I include fear of failing, is (IMHO) much worse and probably the #1 reason to get started or progress. 

Basically, in the risk/reward equation, you don't even start or continue because of this. 

For me, I can't risk my family's well-being on being a dreamer, the risk of failure is to great for those who depend on me. Later on in life, I'm sure I'll take these risks again with much less stress on my shoulders. 

Scott McGregor Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.

September 30th, 2016

The only way to discover the limits of what is possible is to try the impossible and therefore fail. Innovators need to fail frequently to develop products at the limits of what is possible. But then they know for sure what others can only guess and that becomes their competitive advantage. If your Strategy is to avoid failure then you should focus on being a fast follower, rather than being a fast failer.

Bob Sharon Member and active supporter at Citizens' Climate Lobby

September 30th, 2016

Spot on Scott. We just keep trying things, most of which are first time innovations. As long as we can learn from our mistakes, get up and fight again, we are in a better position with the guidance of the University of Life or school of hard knocks.

Chicke Fitzgerald

October 1st, 2016

Failure is by far the best teacher.  Smart entrepreneurs will also learn from the failure of others, versus having to fail firsthand on things that are known problems.  

FounderDating is a great place to hear the transparent stories of those individuals.

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

October 1st, 2016

I define failure as screwing up twice for the same reason - because you learned nothing the first time. You cannot know all you will face in the future, but you should develop your pattern recognition skills to sense when the danger is repeated so you can move around the issue, not into it again. That, by the way, also works for opportunity and success.