lessons every entrepreneur can learn from startup failure

4 Crucial Steps For Moving On From Startup Failure

Posted November 16, 2015 by Caroline Whitney in Running a Business 101
The best startup leaders know how to learn from their failures. Here are four important things to know about learning from startup failure.

How you deal with failure says a lot about you.  Do you give up, or do you persevere?

Most great leaders have dealt with failure at one point or another in their careers. While many failures are preventable or even due to untreated solopreneur fatigue, startups are an inherently tough business with a high failure rate. In fact, 90% of startups fail.

But great startup leaders know how to take that failure and turn it into a lesson - and ultimately, a success.  

Follow our tips, and who knows? Maybe you’ll become the next great startup success.  

Grow From Business Failure

1. Know the Importance of Failure

Failure isn’t entirely a loss.  It means that you went for it.  As the cliché goes, there is no reward without great risk.  You can learn a great deal from your failure- you just can’t be afraid of it.  

Successful entrepreneurs already know this to be true.  Barbara Corcoran, of Shark Tank fame, thinks learning from failure is so important that she dubbed it her specialty.  Ben Lerer, Co-founder and CEO of Thrillist, has conceded that parts of the business fail at times.  How does he deal with it? He admits it as soon as possible, and works to fix whatever the problem may be.  He doesn’t “turn a blind eye.”

How you act in dealing with the failure will say a lot about you and your strength as a leader.  So, don’t wallow.  Recognize that you failed, and resolve to learn from it.  

2. Reflect, Analyze, Learn

After recognizing that failure can help you learn and move forward, get into the details about why this specific venture or project failed.  

Ask yourself: what did I do wrong?  What did I do right?  How would I do it differently if I could go back and do it again?  

"Don't worry about failure; you only have to be right twice." - Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox

Others can give you useful insight as well.  Christina Wallace, now Vice President at Startup Institute, founded Quincy Apparel, a failed startup.  After wallowing a bit, she learned that being open about failing is key: it’s real, and it’s common in the startup community.

So be open; others at your company, or peers in the community, could help you realize things that you may not see.  Ask them about their thoughts and ideas on the failed venture.  

Look at the whole process as getting a head start on your next project, because that is exactly what you’ll be doing: preparing to do better next time.

3. Look for the Next Opportunity

After analyzing what went wrong, take that information and use it in your next endeavor.  

Your next venture will be more successful if you apply the lessons you've learned.

Aaron Schildkrout, cofounder and Co-CEO of Howaboutwe.com says that in creating an internet dating startup, they “...learned to fail more quickly, pushing through bad ideas to arrive at great ideas.  That’s ultimately what propelled us forward (and continues to do so): learning and failing quickly, and never making the same mistake twice.”  

And further, Ekaterina Walter, the CMO of Househappy, states that “‘when one door closes, another door opens’ is more than a cliche after all.  You just need to be confident enough to see that other open door.  And that requires that you not stare at the closed door too long.”    

Brainstorm!  Research!  Stay motivated!  

4. Don’t Forget You're in Good Company

I dare you to find one great entrepreneurial leader who has not suffered failure.  

Bill Gates was once in your shoes, starting out as an entrepreneur.  His first company, Traf-O-Data, was a big whopping failure.  But he kept at it, and obviously became a success.  

Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, originally started a podcasting site called Odeo.  It failed miserably, considering Apple started including a podcasting platform soon after. Did that failure get him down? Well, no... he founded Twitter.

Mark Cuban, businessman, investor, and television star, states that “...it doesn’t matter how many times you failed.  You only have to be right once.  I tried to sell powdered milk.  I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.”  

The moral of the story?  Learn from your startup failures. They just might make you into a success.

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This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.