Make the most of failure for entrepreneurial success

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Failure is a part of one’s entrepreneurial journey as much as success. It’s about time you accept and make peace with it. Rather than cowering in the fear of it being a soul-crushing and demotivating experience, learn from it.

Failure is – as every entrepreneur would succinctly put it succinctly – a part and parcel of the game. According to an IBM report, despite India’s entrepreneurial strength, as much as 90 percent of startups fail within the first five years. That makes it almost a certainty, and all the more reason for you to prepare yourself. If you don’t want to take our word on how to deal with failure, then at least hear it from the horse’s mouth. Here is what some of the entrepreneurs shared with us about their tryst with failure:

Take it with a pinch of salt, but do take it

There has been a lot of taboo around the acceptance and discussion of failure within the Indian startup ecosystem. So if failure does push you a step back, then failing to accept it will topple you out of the race altogether.

“Failure for a startup needs to be second nature. Even while succeeding, you will fail every day. I still fail every day at Haptik. If you fear failure, don’t start. If you enjoy the risk, then do it,” said Aakrit Vaish, Founder and CEO, Haptik.

A learning curve

Only when you fail at something can you step back and introspect on the mistakes made. Failure, in essence, is the opportunity to start from scratch and undo past mistakes.

K Vaitheeswaran, a pioneer of e-commerce in India, has been the most vocal proponent of failure and why Indian entrepreneurs need to accept it. “Success teaches us a few things but failure is the core curriculum,” says Vaithee, as he is fondly called.

Sign of progress

No experiment or trial is free of risk, but that doesn’t mean you cower and sit in your shell due to the fear of failure. The only way you can move forward is by learning your lesson and using the experience to face the next round of challenges.

Calling failure a part of the recollection process, Anuj Srivastava, Co-founder and CEO, LivSpace said that you need to take failure in its stride when you are trying a lot of things. “My take is that when you try too many things, by the law of proportion, you end up failing in some. So most probably failure is a good indication that you are trying a lot of different things. There have been times when we have failed miserably at LivSpace and I, too, have personally miserably failed so many times,” Anuj said.

Failure is an option

To quote a very ubiquitous and time-tested saying, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. Now, the parallel we’re trying to draw with failure and the above-mentioned saying relies purely on the willingness to accept failure, rather than conceding to misery. Accept it; failure is an absolute constant and many throughout history have spoken themselves hoarse about it.

The moment you decide that failure is never an option, you stack a giant wall of odds against your pursuit. When the wall starts crumbling, believe me, it will be insurmountable.

In fact, wear failure as a badge of honour. It highlights your time in the trenches, while also serving as a yardstick for the grit and determination it took to dig your way out to the pinnacle. A well-fought victory will always be more satisfying than a handout and scripted journey.

If anything is certain in this entrepreneurial journey, it is failure. So a healthy attitude towards the possibility of failure should be part every entrepreneur's long-term planning. Remember, failure will always open the door to reinvention.

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