18 Brutal Business Lessons from the Failures of Successful Entrepreneurs
Have you ever done business before and failed?
Have you really given your best to a business, done everything you know how, worked really hard, sourced for, and invested funds into your business, but to your dismay, you still find yourself on the lonely road of failure?
You were so sure that you were doing things right. You saw your success staring right back at you and nothing was standing in your way.
You felt like you were on steroids and was already winning. Then out of the blues when you were your most relaxed and unsuspecting, failure makes a grab for the same rug you’re standing on and brutally pulls it out from under your feet.
You landed with a heavy thud. You didn’t see that coming. You tried to get up but realized that the floor was slimy. Being on a slimy floor, you couldn’t get a good grip of anything to help you stand. So you kept slipping and falling, grubbing in the slimy, mucky floor.
The more you tried to stand, the more you fell. Soon, your energy started to give out and the slimy floor actually began to look comfortable to you.
Before long, you decided that there was no need fighting a battle that you could never win. So you finally let go and collapsed on the floor, its cold and wet arms welcomed you. It felt like home.
There on the floor, you saw your once bright and dazzling future gradually grow dim and eventually faded out…
It has happened to so many successful CEOs you know today. Emphasis is on “successful CEOs.” Yes, because they did something different from what everyone else did and that’s how they won the battle against failure.
Don’t get me wrong. They didn’t have it all-rosy. Failure found them just like it did you and it dealt them its characteristic deadly blow.
It actually found some of them more than once in their journey and at each turn, was sure to shatter them. But at the time of writing, they are wealthy people and successful entrepreneurs. They achieved their dreams and more.
Some of them are on the list of the world’s wealthiest people.
So what made the difference? Do you think they were lucky? Is there any way you think they had an edge over you? After all, you did everything you were supposed to do and still didn’t make it.
You know, sometimes what makes the difference in success is not about everything you did. It’s neither about the big dreams you had nor the amount out of money you invested in your business. Sometimes, it’s about that one thing you did that they did not do.
And I can bet you, it’s what makes the difference between the successful entrepreneur who achieved their dreams and those who surrendered to failure.
That one thing that they did not do was to lie on the slimy floor and find comfort in it. They refused to call it home. Yes, it was a tough struggle but they instructed themselves to not find comfort in that slime. They wanted to be home, but that definitely wasn’t the home they were looking for. So what did they do?
They were thinking outside the box! They realized it was going to be awaste of effort trying the get up from that slime so they opened their minds to think of some other ways to handle it.
Instead of trying to stand on their feet, they started rolling themselves on the floor. They kept rolling and rolling till they got to a part of the floor where the slime had thinned out. When they got there, they got up with less difficulty and walked away to their success.
So you see, it’s not a matter of luck but one of drive, tact and resilience.
Take for example, from the infographic below, Bill Gates of Microsoft or Evan Williams of Medium and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. They all had a rough start and failed at business.
But it didn’t stop them. They kept coming back till they got what they wanted.
In fact, the road called entrepreneurship is not straight. Let’s us look at some statistics you should bear in mind as an entrepreneur.
Important Entrepreneurship Statistics You Should Know
These statistics can kill your confidence but you should know them so you can go the extra mile to avoid being struck down by failure. Again, it reminds you that despite the statistics, there are over 400 million entrepreneurs in the world. This means that there are those who scaled through and succeeded. It should inspire you.
More than 50% of startups fail within their first four years. 19% of them, fail because they couldn’t keep up with their competition while about 18% are knocked out of the race due to pricing issues.
6.02% of adults in the US run their own business, which is their main source of income.
About 80% of business owners funded their businesses with their own money.
20% of startup founders are millenniums.
In the US, 40% of new entrepreneurs are women.
19% of entrepreneurs work for 60 hours and above a week.
So now we can begin to understand the reasons why Entrepreneurs could fail. These are simply some of the many reasons that could spell an entrepreneur’s failure. There are other valid reasons and we are going to touch them briefly.
When you’re starting a business, it needs all the funding to get off the ground. Yes, some people may say, “but I invested money in my business yet I didn’t see any results.”
But it isn’t all about funding a business. Is it sufficient? Is the money enough? Those should be your questions. Starting a business on a tight budget is risky because when a drafted budget on paper meets with the harsh realities in the field, you can’t exactly foretell where the tides will take you.
2. No Business Plan
Some people never really understand the importance of having a business plan before they take up any endeavor. A business plan is like an instruction manual on when, where, how and when to take any action. So having no plan and doing things at impulses is like wandering aimlessly in a jungle without any map or compass.
3. No Proper Market Research
One thing is sure, before you can start any business, no matter how great your idea is, economics teaches that you must conduct a market research to determine how to produce, what to produce, where to produce and for whom to produce. It is very important that you know these facts before you venture into the business fully.
4. Tough, Hot Competition
It takes a lot of entrepreneurial prowess to introduce your brand into a market where you already have a tough competition. This particular issue has been the undoing of many startups. Their giant competition stifles their voices so that they struggle to keep their head above water. But then, as mentioned earlier, it takes one who thinks outside the box to survive the tide and stay afloat.
5. Team Lacking in Experience
As a start-up, what you need is a team that knows the job. You can’t afford to have people who are going to be learning on the job. Keep this in mind while recruiting your staff.
6. Quitting Too Early
Some entrepreneurs do not have the fight in them. They get fed up really fast and their business crashes. But those who remained fighting are those who have made a name for themselves today.
How to Overcome Entrepreneurial Failure
Failure is not something anybody wants to be associated with. We dread it and avoid it like the plague. People who have failed in something, cover it up so well and pretend that all is well with them.
Why is it so?
Nobody wants to be associated with failure. Nobody wants to be counted as someone who failed to achieve something. These people understand that the moment their secret becomes open, they would lose friends.
They do not want to be in seclusion. People tend to not care how you’re getting by as long as you are not a failure, it doesn’t matter what you do.
But then, everything has an advantage and a disadvantage. Failure is not left out here.
Failure has its good side. It puts your mind in a mood where you ponder and reflect on what you did wrong. When you fail, your mind is plunged into memory lane where it seeks to understand what went wrong or what you didn’t do right.
It helps and motivates you to do better. For those who are thirsty for success, it helps them redeem themselves and prove that they are not failures.
So how can you overcome your failure as an entrepreneur?
1. Understand that Nothing Good Comes Easy
Yes, those who have achieved their goals in life will tell you that they had to fight hard to get it. It is not to say that success is a road tainted with suffering and disappointments. No.
It simply tells you that when starting out to achieve something, you will never be 100% aware of the pitfalls you would encounter on your way. So when you try and fail, it’s up to you to get up and try again having learnt a lesson already to avoid that particular wrong step that cost you the last time.
2. Ignore All Those Who Would Come to Either Gloat or Berate You
This will most likely happen when failure strikes you down. Those who will say, “I told you so” and the other party who will scream, “You’re a loser and can never amount to anything!”
If you let it, they are the only voices that will occupy your mind and you won’t be able to think nor concentrate on anything else.
At that point, what your mind needs is to focus on the way out, not beating yourself up or feeling sorry for yourself. So ignore them, and put your mental energy into something more productive like your goals.
It is this remarkable character that has made so many successful people the great people they are today: the ability to keep pushing.
How to Use Your Failure to Your Advantage
Does this sound strange to you? Well, it could be, but you can actually get back at failure by turning around to use it to your advantage!
Sounds funny? Vengeful? Call it whatever, the point remains that you can actually turn your lemon to lemonade when failure comes knocking.
1. Be honest to yourself
When failure comes, and you find out that you have come short of your own expectations, acknowledge it!
Do not be in denial or shy away from it. Do not hide it either. I’m not saying you should write a full-page article about it on a national daily but you shouldn’t hide it from those around you.
If they find out about it themselves, consider it a double failure. They might even begin to wonder why you kept it secret and might dismiss it as cowardice.
2. Explain what happened but never make excuses yourself
When something goes wrong, people are less likely to take responsibility for it. They shy away from it and make piles of excuses for their failure. Running away from responsibility will never help you grow. You must first admit your mistakes before your mind can be in the space it needs to be to think of remedies to the situation.
3. Let the anger you feel from your failure drive you
Have you ever been motivated to do something just because someone told you that you couldn’t do it? Have you ever been so angry that someone feels they can control your life and in annoyance, you turned around and channeled all your anger into giving them the shock of their lives?
Well that was your failure working for you. You actually used failure to your advantage there.
I can assure you, failure comes with a lot of baggage when you let it settle down. Don’t ever let that happen. Read the infographic below and you may notice a common trait in these uncommon people: they didn’t let failure settle down.
They regrouped and drove it away armed with the lessons they had learned.
Things were never always rosy for them. They were once struggling to get back up.
The major difference there is that they kept fighting back.