Updated April 24, 2023
Introduction to Handle Failures
Handle Failures – For most people, education aims to get a good degree or doctorate and 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, make the investment, and create new jobs, adding to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of the economy. Hence, the recent trend among governments is to promote entrepreneurship in many countries.
Many people who become entrepreneurs face failure in the beginning, get disheartened, and lose all confidence in going ahead.
10 Ways to Handle Failures
Here are ten tips to turn failures into success and get ahead in business
It 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, failed at school. He was considered a slow learner and expelled from school. He couldn’t pass the entrance to a university. Many have heard of Walt Disney as the only 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 dropout, and his first venture Traf-O-Data failed. 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 it personally as an inability to find success; in the beginning, there is no reason to doubt your success in the future unless you consider yourself 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 Potter series, had seen her manuscripts rejected by five publishers before getting accepted for publication. US 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 perseverance helps them overcome the crisis and succeed.
Have a vision and believe in it
If Henry Ford in the early 1900s 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, which was how Model T existed. In his time, the cars were for the rich to flaunt their wealth and cost up to $7500. However, Model-T was sold for $825, and his vision was to help farmers haul the good to the market. Ford believed in producing horseless carriages made by skilled workers who earned steady wages.
Arunachalam Muruganantham, who developed India’s first affordable sanitary pads for women, faced 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 children drops out of school due to menstruation problems). For most 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 the wrong choice of people? Since you are too attached to the project and business, you may overlook many things and fail to realize your mistakes. A helpful business analyst, chartered accountant, or successful entrepreneur friend can help you find where you went wrong.
Entrepreneurs should prioritize proper planning and financial control and avoid early expansion or diversification, often leading to business failures. Instead, they should invest in their business in the initial years to support growth, even if it means taking lower wages and no dividends.
Many businesses shut shop, not because of a lack of profits but insufficient cash flow. Cash flow is important to cover regular expenses such as wages, rent, raw materials, and stationery. An organization must have a minimum of two months of operating expenses at any time. A company can survive without profits but not without sufficient cash flow.
Many start-ups end up as failures due to a lack of experience, lack of planning, conceptualizing, and management skills. Some Angel Funds and Venture Funds who provide financial support also advise how to run the business.
Virgin Air’s legendary Richard Branson founder 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 Coke’s size and marketing strength. Moreover, it deviated from the core principle that Virgin Group stood for, offering something unique from the competition. Virgin Cars turned out to be a 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, the developer of affordable sanitary napkins, discovered that even medical and nursing students were unwilling to use his product for testing or evaluation, nor were they willing to discuss it after using it. He, therefore, decided to try it on himself by developing a uterus using a 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 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 an inexpensive machine. His machine costs less than US $1000, while the imported machinery was sold at $500,000.
Despite facing setbacks, criticism, and desertion, he remained committed to his idea of affordable sanitary napkins, and today his machines help women’s groups and schools make their pads, enabling millions of girls to attend school and women to work every month.
According to Joe Judson, CEO of Fusion Logistics, there is a difference between being interested and being committed to an idea. Companies that 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 entrepreneurs’ innovative spirit despite the initial setbacks. Henry Ford devised the first assembly line production to mass-produce the Model-T cars after observing their work in cloth factories. Arunachalam Muruganantham devised an inexpensive machine to produce an inexpensive sanitary pad. His product would not have succeeded if his innovative spirit had not devised the machine itself.
Success is not luck but hard work.
Many people blame their failures, saying they are not lucky enough. Others blame their stars. According to Peter Thiel, a billionaire, successful businessmen 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 must first put yourself in a position of luck to become lucky, which comes through hard work. Sometimes, it may be contacting an influencer or getting a referral, but luck would be meaningless without hard work and a good product.
It comes from managing to delegate and be a leader
Many projects fail because entrepreneurs try to do everything rather than delegate 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, e.g. accounting, administration, or sales. Your success comes from efficiently managing them.
Write affirmations and make it a regular habit.
Many people 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, which becomes the blueprint of our lives. When writing affirmations, we should be grateful for everything we have and enjoy. We should be thankful to everyone who helped us in life’s journey. We should also visualize success- of having achieved our goal. Positive thoughts can overcome negativity and open up opportunities.
People who land a major contract or get a few good consumers or clients often fear losing it sooner to competition because they are not used to living with success.
According to Elbert Hubbard, the fear of failure is the greatest stumbling block to success in business. According to Henry Ford, those who fear failure limit their activities and, when they fail, miss the opportunity to begin again. Thomas Alva Edison didn’t fail 10,000 times but found as many ways how a bulb would not work.
Dress like a winner
According to some studies, how you dress has a major influence on your success at work and in business. If you have experienced failure, don’t dress poorly and tell the world about it.
In a 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 higher, irrespective of past failures.
Failure is not something unique to businesses alone. Many leading businessmen, scientists, and 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.
Joining a supportive professional group can help analyze mistakes and take corrective measures instead of losing hope or self-criticizing. Some eminent businessmen have started no-profit societies to help entrepreneurs in distress by providing 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, selling 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 easier.
The best way to instill courage in people is to teach young kids how to handle failure at school itself.
This has been a guide to Handle Failures. Here we have discussed the basic concept, with ten tips to turn failures into success and get ahead in business. You may look at the following articles to learn more –