Handle Failures – For most people the goal of education is to get a good degree or doctorate and get a high paying job. Many shy away from entrepreneurship due to fear of failure. They have heard of more people failing in business than succeeding. Still others think they are not born to do business. Many conveniently forget that it is entrepreneurs who take the risk, do the investment and create new jobs, add to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of the economy. Hence, the recent trend among governments to promote entrepreneurship in many countries.
Among the small percentage of people who become entrepreneurs, many face failure in the beginning, get disheartened and lose all confidence in going ahead.
Here are ten tips to turn failures into success and get ahead in business:
Failures doesn’t mean business isn’t your cup of tea
Thomas Alva Edison failed a thousand times before he could invent the electric bulb. Albert Einstein, the remarkable genius who gave us the Theory of Relativity and a whole new way to look at the world, was a failure at school. He was considered a slow learner and expelled from school. He couldn’t pass the entrance to a university. Many of us have heard of Walt Disney as only a successful creator of Oscar winning animation movies and entertainment. He had a disastrous start to his career- being fired from a newspaper and his first studio venture went bankrupt. Even the legendary Bill Gates was a university drop out and his first venture Traf-O-Data was a failure. Henry Ford’s first two car manufacturing ventures were failures. This and several other examples across the globe prove that failure in the beginning is not an end to your entrepreneurial career.
Never take failures personally as inability to find success in the beginning is no reason to doubt your success in future unless you consider yourself to be a failure.
Perseverance holds the key
The one quality that distinguished the businessmen who had initial failures but went on to become successful was their perseverance. They never quit after their first attempt. J K Rowling who created the best -selling Harry Porter series had seen her manuscripts rejected by five publishers before getting accepted for publication. U S President Abraham Lincoln lost the Presidency race five times before winning. Hardly, a few people may have become overnight successes but most businessmen fail initially but it is the perseverance that helps them tide over the crisis and come out successful.
Have a vision and believe in it
If Henry Ford in the early 1900’s had done a survey, many people would have scoffed at his idea of an automobile as horse carriages were more common those days. His first two attempts had also failed. His vision was to develop a car for the masses and that was how Model-T came into existence. In his time, the cars were for the rich to flaunt their wealth and cost upto $7500. However, Model-T was sold for $825 and his vision was help farmers haul the good to the market. Ford believed in producing horseless carriages made by skilled workers who earn steady wages.
Arunachalam Muruganantham, who developed India’s first affordable sanitary pads for women had to face several setbacks in his business, his wife left him and people thought he was crazy. However, it was his vision of making the life of girls and women comfortable (One in every five girl child drops out from school due to menstruation problems) and for majority of women in India (estimated at 300 million) who are ashamed to talk of it, Muruganathan invention is a God’s Gift.
Learn from the mistakes
Every failure is an opportunity to learn. When a project fails, or encounters setbacks, it is time to evaluate what went wrong. Was it the product that failed or how it was sold, or was it due to poor financial planning, or wrong choice of people? Since you are too much attached to the project and business, you may overlook many things and also fail to realize own mistakes. A helpful business analyst, chartered accountant or a successful entrepreneur friend can help you find where you went wrong.
Many business failures are due to lack of planning, financial control and early expansion or diversification. Many businessmen who have enjoyed success and growth in one business say – food or real estate quickly diversify to films or entertainment. Result – big failure. In the initial years, the entrepreneurs must take home lower wages and no dividends but invest more into business to help it grow.
Many businesses shut shop not because of lack of profits but not sufficient cash flow. Cash flow is important to take care of regular expenses such as wages, rent, raw materials and stationery. An organization must have a minimum of two months operating expenses in hand at any point of time. A company can survive without profits but not without sufficient cash flow.
Many start-ups end up as failures due to lack of experience, lack of planning, conceptualizing and management skills. Some Angel Funds and Venture Funds who provide financial support also provide advice on how to run the business.
Virgin Air founder, the legendary Richard Branson, has tasted success and failures in his entrepreneurial history. They even launched a brand to rival Coca Cola- Virgin Cola. It was a failure because they couldn’t match the size and marketing strength of Coke. Moreover, it deviated from the core principle that Virgin group stood for- offering something unique from the competition. Virgin Cars turned out to be failure as they didn’t find the opportunity coming in electric cars and clean fuels. And struggled with a conventional product that had too much competition already.
Remain committed to your idea
Muruganantham who developed the affordable sanitary napkins found out that even medical and nursing students were not willing to use his product for testing or evaluation nor were they willing to discuss about it after using it. He therefore decided to try it on himself by developing a uterus using rubber bladder and filling it with animal blood. It was tied to his hip and a tube connected the artificial uterus to the sanitary pad.
He began to cycle, jump and bend to put pressure on the rubber bladder so that blood would flow into the pad. Sometimes he gently pressed the pad himself. Many people thought he was perverted and his wife deserted him tired of hearing gossip. Initially, it leaked and blood slipped into his clothes. After much trial and error he developed the right material and also an inexpensive machine to produce it. His machine costs less than US $1000 while the imported machinery was sold at $500,000.
Despite all the setbacks, criticism, desertion by wife, he remained steadfast edly committed to his idea of an affordable sanitary napkin. Today his machines help women’s groups and schools make their own in-expensive sanitary pads bringing several million girls to school and women to work throughout the month.
There is a difference between being interested and committed to an idea, according to Joe Judson, CEO of Fusion Logistics. Companies who have employees who are interested rather than committed will not see much growth in business or profits, he says.
Never lose the innovative spirit
Many ventures in business succeeded because of the innovative spirit held on by the entrepreneurs despite the initial setbacks. Henry Ford devised the first assembly line production to mass produce the Model-T cars after observing it work in cloth factories. Arunachalam Muruganantham devised the inexpensive machine to produce the inexpensive sanitary pad. His product would not have become a success if the machine itself was not devised by his innovative spirit.
Success is not luck, but hard work
Many people blame their failures saying that they are not lucky enough like others. Others blame their stars. According to Peter Thiel, billionaire, successful business men don’t depend on luck for things to happen but are definite optimists. According to Kochouseph Chittilappilly, a successful businessman from South India, luck happens when hard work meets opportunity.
You have to first put yourself in a position of luck to be become lucky and that come through hard work. Sometimes, it may be getting into contact with an influencer, or getting a referral, but with out hard work and a good product, luck itself would be meaningless.
Failure comes from managing to delegate and be a leader
Many projects fail because the entrepreneurs themselves try to do everything rather than delegate the routine tasks and take outside help. You must have a team of intelligent people who are talented in some areas to do the work for you- for eg. accounting, administration, or sales. Your success comes from efficiently managing them.
Write affirmations and make it a regular habit
There are many people who do something half-heartedly or with the fear of failure. Even those who have faced failure can overcome it if they make positive affirmations a daily habit. Writing affirmations daily can influence what we put on our subconscious mind and that becomes the blue print of our life. When writing affirmations we should be grateful for all the things we have and enjoying right now. We should be thankful to all the people who helped us in the journey of life. We should also visualize success- of having achieved our goal. When the mind is filled with positive thoughts, negativity can be overcome and right opportunities will present itself before you.
Most people are not used to living with success that when they land up with a major contract or get a few good consumers or clients, they fear that they would lose it sooner to competition.
According to Elbert Hubbard, the fear of failure is the greatest stumbling block to success in business. Those who fear failure limit their activities and when they fail miss the opportunity to begin again, according to Henry Ford. Thomas Alva Edison didn’t fail 10,000 times but found as much ways about how a bulb will not work.
Dress like a winner
The way you dress has a major influence on your success at work and in business, according to some studies. If you have experienced failure, don’t dress poorly and let the whole world know about it.
Ina study involving people dressed poorly and in executive style with mock negotiations of buying and selling, those dressed in suits outclassed the poorly dressed ones by a huge margin- $2.1 mn vs $0.68 mn while the neutrally dressed averaged only $1.58 mn in profits. In business, if you appear one step ahead in your dress in a business meeting or negotiation, the chances of success are that higher, irrespective of your past failures.
Conclusion – Handle Failures
Failure is not something unique to businesses alone. Many leading businessmen, scientists , musicians fared poorly in school but had the determination to succeed. Those who dwell on past mistakes and failures lose the opportunity to recover and grow.
Instead of losing hope or indulging in self- criticism it will better to join a professional group that provides support, analyzing where you went wrong and corrective measures to be taken. Some eminent businessmen have started no-profit societies to help entrepreneurs in distress either by providing some financial support or helping them understand their problems and pave the way for turnaround.
There are several fascinating stories from around the world – of small and big businessmen making a remarkable turnaround after going bankrupt. No doubt the initial and growth phase years would be stressful. Sometimes, entrepreneurs may have to return to working for a company or selling of their assets or asking financial institutions to reschedule loans to tide over the crisis. It takes a real champion to make a business successful while being a worker or employee is far more easy.
The best way to instill courage in people is to teach young kids how to handle failure at school itself.