Why an entrepreneur can never really fail

OPINION: We have earlier carried an article titled “It’s good to fail. Here’s why”. And yes, there are several reasons why it may be good to fail. But today, I would like to go a step further and say that entrepreneurs can never really fail. This is meant to be an opinion piece, so I take the liberty to write in first person. I’d also use inverted commas in every reference of “failure” in this article as the word is often misconstrued.

When we talk or write about “failure,” what we often refer to is merely “financial failure”. In the process of following his or her journey, an entrepreneur might end up failing financially but that’s never really a “failure” in the true sense of the word. That’s never the end of life. In any case, the entrepreneur has learnt more, experienced more, and lived more. I believe nothing lets you live more than “failure”.

Entrepreneurship is nothing but experimentation and experiments are never a “failure”. As Benjamin Franklin said, “I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” An entrepreneur can at best make mistakes but “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing,” says George Bernard Shaw.

“Failures” help us find a purpose and meaning to live. Because, the more we fail, the more we try. The more we try, the closer we are to success.

However, the psychological ramifications of “failure” can be traumatising. It can lead to a low morale, disturbed state of mind, and ego hurt. It keeps us away from wanting to celebrate and worse, can lead to depression. So, we must be conscious of understanding the true meaning of “failure”.

Real leaders emerge stronger after an event of “failure”. Iconic former CEO of Apple Steve Jobs said he had “failed” too. Did you know that Apple fired Jobs in 1985? Jobs once said in a lecture in Stanford University, “I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.”

Sometimes failure can be the best thing that could have happened to you. “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life,” Jobs said in his lecture.

Entrepreneurs, especially millennials must master the art of celebrating “failures” on their journey to success. Millennials are young and inexperienced to handle depression, so it’s even more essential that they understand the underlying meaning of the word and keep on moving despite the hurdles.

Failure must be used as a tool and an opportunity to learn. You should never let that event define yourself. You should in fact analyse what led to the events that didn’t work out as expected. There are normally various external factors involved that are just beyond your control. Just like success, failure too is an external event and does not necessarily define you as a loser.

So, next time someone says that you are a “failure”, reply to them right back saying that they don’t know enough about “failure”. Whosoever has told you this, surely has never got out of their comfort zones to be able to judge you. Worse, they would have never experienced success in the real sense. Entrepreneurs can never really fail. Period.

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Ayushman Baruah
Ayushman Baruah is the founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Startup Observer. With 10+ years of rich experience in journalism spanning across newspaper, magazine, and news wire, Ayushman takes a conscious effort to stay away from the rat's race and the noise of breaking news. The Startup Observer is a noble initiative to serve the readers with ideas that go beyond news. In 2013, Ayushman won the prestigious 15th Annual PoleStar Award in jury's category for excellence in technology journalism. He loves writing, public speaking, observing, travelling, aquariums, and anything that makes him think. He believes in keeping his feet on the ground but eyes on the stars.