In business, there are some well known, often repeated mantras that always seem to draw the ire of critics. One of the more recent idea, at least to me in the last few years, is the idea that you should fail often or fail completely. Most recently, I read a post by the founder of Fooala, a Pittsburgh web startup that provides restaurant e-commerce services. He’s 22 years old, went to my alma mater (Carnegie Mellon), and his failure was with a web hosting company when he was 13.
David seemed to overemphasize the need to fail, which I don’t think was his original, or at least his most important, point. The key point is this one:
What’s one thing that stops inexperienced wannabe entrepreneurs from getting started? The fear of failure. The thought that your best idea is going to be wasted because you made some stupid mistakes. But if you think like this, I promise you you’ll always be that “entrepreneur” who is always talking about a business idea but hasn’t done anything yet. And you don’t want to be like that forever.
There’s discussion on Hacker News about how failure as a pre-requisite is overrated and I agree. David’s point wasn’t that a successful entrepreneur needs to fail, it’s that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be an entrepreneur in the first place. The only way you can have a successful business is by creating a business in the first place. If you let the fear of failure stop you from starting anything, I guarantee you will never have a successful business… it’s simply logic.
Do you need to fail completely? No, of course not. But you have to accept the fact that you could fail and that in failure you will learn something about yourself, your business, and how to do better next time.
Don’t be afraid to fail, not because it’s your job, but because when you succeed, and you will if you are persistent, no one will notice or remember your failures.