It may be useful to reconsider this notion of failing. For many, the "failure" of a startup is not an event as much as it is a process. It's not as binary or black and white as one day you're founding a start up and the next day you're not.
If you are following a process of discovering and validating your business model, one of three patterns will, generally, begin to emerge:
- The "light bulb will go on" and your business will begin to take flight. That is, you will have validated enough of a model to have a sustainable, early-stage business. This does not mean that there are not still lessons to learn, adjustments to be made, and pivots to be undertaken, but it does mean that there is something of substance that can be sustained and scaled.
- You may discover that your current business model will never get off that ground, but that you enjoy and have a talent for the startup process. In this case, it's often wise to abandon your original idea and significantly shift your business model. You probably are a startup entrepreneur, you just haven't found the right business model yet.
- You may discover that you simply don't like and / or do not have the talents required to start a business. In this case, it may be wise to consider a different way to make a living - such as getting a job, perhaps with a startup. For many, the idea of having started a startup is far more appealing than the work of starting a startup.
There are many other factors to consider, including the amount of time that you can support yourself with no or minimal income, your team of co-founders, whether you are working on your startup full-time or still have a day job, external investors ... and much more.
Too often we have rigid definitions of entrepreneurialism and success vs. failure. In my experience, many entrepreneurs "get on the path" without a clear understanding of where they want to go. Sometimes failure is simple realignment. Sometimes it's stepping off the path for a while to build up resources (often that means working to replenish savings).
I find it interesting (and understandable) that entrepreneurs are often willing to invest in gathering resources for their business, but are reluctant to invest in an outside perspective and developing themselves. There seems to be a pervasive belief that business "advice" should be free and that quality advice is available from anyone who has some perceived level of business success - relevant or not.
In general, building a business is NOT like having a job. There is no instruction manual, no 8-step process, and no deterministic algorithm for business success. I believe that it was Steve Blank who identified 6 different form of enterprise and I have identified at least 8.
The bottom line is that one size fits none and that entrepreneurial success is rarely a straight-line journey from point A to a well-defined point B. So "success" is less a function of getting where you set out to go and more a process of discovering a changing destination, using past experience to improve decision making, not getting locked into a pattern just because you have so much time and effort invested in it (sunk costs), and getting on and off the path as resources dictate.
I'm interested in other's perspective.