Startups · Entrepreneur

How does it feel like when your startup fails?

sofia tabassum Attended Sarhad University of Science and Information Technology (NTI)

September 7th, 2016

Keeping in mind that 9 out of 10 startups fail I wonder how it feels when you realize that is time to move on and what is the best way to do it with your head up high.

Janis Machala Senior business executive and entrepreneur

September 7th, 2016

Communication, lessons learned, failure is not failure it is learning.

Kevin Taylor Hackerpreneur, Advisor to Startups and Consultancies

September 8th, 2016

If you have investors, you'll feel bad.
If you have employees, you'll feel worse.
If you have neither, you'll feel relief.

Peter Crane Managing Director at Remington Capital

September 7th, 2016

It's just like a breakup. It can be quite painful but stay focused and positive and always keep moving towards your next goal. Most successful founders have one (or several) failures under their belts. Learn from your mistakes but don't dwell on them.

Shel com I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing

September 8th, 2016

Maybe a better question is how do you define success. My first full year in business (1982), I only made four figures. But it was enough to know the concept was viable and I haven't had an outside job since. The business has evolved into something very different (and better-paying), but that's how it started.

Rod Abbamonte Co Founder at STARTREK / @startupHunter / @startupWay / @CoFounderFound / @GOcapital / @startupClub / @lastminute

September 8th, 2016

Opportunity to learn, prove resilience and capacity to survive. 

Mike Moyer

September 8th, 2016

It feels somewhere between a punch in the gut and an enormous relief! 

Always be asking yourself this question: Knowing what I know now, would I start this company today? If the answer is "no" you are probably headed towards failure....

Author of Slicing Pie

Nizamudheen Valliyattu Co-Founder & Digital Marketing Specialist at

September 7th, 2016

Another big lesson

Jonathan Smarjesse CEO at Jonathan Louis Smarjesse

September 7th, 2016


Lucia Guh-Siesel CEO & Founder, Bandalou

September 7th, 2016

I'm sorry, what is the point of this question??

Is it rhetorical?  Are you asking how to fail gracefully?  As any entrepreneur knows, it's painful.  But Janis is spot on - you learn, you change, you make it work no matter what.

Candidly -- questions like this don't add to the FD community...but stories of failure do because we can all learn from the mistakes of those that came before us.

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

September 7th, 2016

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: 

  1. 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.

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.