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[Year in Review 2020] ‘Failure is a friend, philosopher and guide’ – 50 inspiring quotes on recovering from failure

As you take stock of the ups and downs of the year gone by, here are some words of comfort and inspiration to help interpret failure and emerge stronger!

[Year in Review 2020] ‘Failure is a friend, philosopher and guide’ – 50 inspiring quotes on recovering from failure

Saturday December 26, 2020 , 9 min Read

Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a regular feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our past articles. Share these gems and insights with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

Drawn from our comprehensive coverage of India’s startup ecosystem, we present 50 quotes on how to accept and cope with the inevitable challenges in the entrepreneur’s roller-coaster journey (see last year's compilation here).

See also YourStory’s compilations of quotes on Crisis Management and India’s COVID-19 Struggle, and annual picks of Top 10 Books, Top 5 Pivot and Persist Stories, Top 20 Author Interviews, and Top 50 Entrepreneurship Quotes.

Mistakes and errors are part of the startup journey, and show the path to success ahead. A mindset of resilience, reflection and resolve is key to bounce back from challenges. Learning from the mistakes of others and asking for help when down and out are useful practices as well.

See also our reviews of the related books The Other ‘F’ Word, The Serendipity Mindset, Adapt, The Up Side of Down, Who Blunders and How, The Wisdom of Failure, Fail Better, Fail Fast, and Failing to Succeed.

YourStory has also published the pocketbook Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

YourStory wishes all founders, innovators and changemakers a Happy New Year ahead, and all the best for success and scale in 2021!


Causes of failure

Startups that fail to align all the moving parts and tie all the loose-ends, risk tripping on their own shoelaces. - Puneet Pandey. Open Strategy & Design

If you make a strategic mistake in business, you can undo it somehow. But if you build a wrong team, it sets you back real hard. - Harshil Mathur, Razorpay

High attrition continues to be the bane of the corporates with 23 percent of the small businesses failing due to lack of the right team. - Vinay Kotra, BigLeap

If you stop learning, you may be setting yourself up for a failure. - Manbir Kaur, ‘Get Your Next Promotion’

Businesses do not fail because they are short of cash. Businesses fail because of financial mismanagement. - Faizal Ahamed, Suxus Menswear

Every single mistake that entrepreneurs do, 99 percent of that is already documented somewhere. - Gaurav Munjal, Unacademy

Studying failures can help check your overflowing positive emotions. Missing product-market fit and wrong timing are critical reasons why most startups fail. - Rajesh Sawhney, Prime Ventures

Learning from failure

Success is a lousy teacher, but failure is a friend, philosopher and guide. - Ayushmann Khurrana

Your lifetime will not be enough to learn only from your mistakes. You have to learn from other people’s mistakes. - Jay Vijayan, Tekion Corp

It is failure, plus, reflecting upon that failure that will hopefully get you to succeed. - Ankur Warikoo,

Even failures have successful elements and recognising them first makes it easier for teams to think critically about what didn’t work. - Jean Storlie and Mimi Sherlock, 'Once Upon an Innovation'

You never lose; you either win or learn. - Madhusudan Ekambaram, KreditBee

Most people are afraid to fail. Mistakes are lovely because you learn from them. - Danish Sait

You need to be fearless and be ready to accept failure. You keep on learning new things only if you are ready to experiment and go out of your comfort zone. - Chef Devwrat Jategaonkar

The sign of a good leader is the ability to spot your failures, correct them quickly, and not to repeat them. - Vinita Ananth, Microsoft Azure

Don’t be embarrassed by your failures. Learn from them and start all over again. - Richard Branson, Virgin Group

Never be defeated by mistakes, just learn from them! - Dipali Mathur, Super Smelly

When the challenges come, how you learn from that and how you introspect takes you to another level. Every challenge will take you somewhere. - Kishore Biyani, Future Group

Failure is a constant learning opportunity. - Vani Kola, Kalaari Capital

Failure is there to teach you something so that you can go beyond that. There is a lesson hidden in there. - Irrfan Khan


Failure and success

It is easier to succeed if you have failed. - Sanjay Kumar, Elior India

Entrepreneurship is not only about how to succeed but also about how one recovers after a failure. - Sajan Pillai, Season Two Ventures

Your willingness to fail is what will let you succeed. - Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures

Failure is inevitable, but so is success, so rebound. - Naveen Tiwari, InMobi

If you don’t go through the journey of failure, you are not going to have any probability of being successful. - Kunal Shah, CRED

There are no failures or successes in life; nothing is final in any event. One has to take the little accomplishments and disappointments in one’s stride, learn from them and move on. - Vish Dhamija, 'Lipstick'

One success, one winner can pay for dozens and dozens of failures. - Jeff Bezos, Amazon

You can create a successful design only by correcting mistakes – or rather making mistakes and correcting them. - Ramkripa Ananthan, Mahindra & Mahindra

Life comes with highs and with highs come lows. We just have to accept it, deal with it and move on. - Anjali Saraogi, ultramarathon runner

The resilient mindset

Try to adjust and digest failure and bad times as well. It will definitely give strength to move forward to achieve your goals. - Sagar Naik Mule

Keep working hard. If you fail at something now, there will definitely be something better waiting for you later on. Use failure as a stepping-stone. - Praveen Kumar, 'Mr Family Man'

The most important trait would be the ability to accept repeated failures and to carry on nevertheless. - Suresh Venkat

You only fail if you never try. - Sanjay Bhatia, Freightwalla

If you have never failed, you have never been tested, and then you haven't seen your best yet. A setback is only an opportunity for you to come back stronger. - Deep Malhotra, BeckFriends

Failure is not fatal, it’s inevitable. If you don’t fail, it perhaps means you aren’t taking enough risks. - Kumar Mangalam Birla

This thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. - Mary Pickford


Failure and entrepreneurship

Failure is an event – an individual or company is not a failure. - Madan Padaki, 1Bridge

When growing a business, failure and audacity sit on the flip sides of the very same coin. - Evian Gutman, 'Coming Back From COVID'

As a company grows, everything needs to scale, including the size of your failed experiments. If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle. - Amit Agarwal, Amazon India

It is heartwarming to see the rise of serial entrepreneurs or people who are starting up after their first venture has failed. This development and maturity of the ecosystem is very healthy. - Shrishti Sahu, Emoha Eldercare

The world is seeing failure very differently from how it saw it two decades ago. - Vishesh Rajaram, Speciale Invest

You must now experiment, for the cost of failure cannot be any lower. No one would mind you failing. - Pavan Soni, Inflexion Point

If what you create does not outlive you, then you have failed. - Uday Kotak

Founders can benefit a lot from understanding how probable failure is, taking smart risks or fail-safe experiments, failing smartly, and maximising learning from failure. - Richard Busulwa, ‘Startup Accelerators’

You’re not a failure until you decide you are. - Umesh Sachdev, Uniphore

Failure stories

Stories about failures are kept under the wraps. Startup founders do not talk about it except to their close friends. - Dhruv Nath, ‘Funding Your Start-Up’

The big problem is, businesses squeak about successes, but none on failures. Hence, it is not easy to learn of the corporate bloopers and gain experience therefrom. - Robin Banerjee, 'Who Blunders and How'

The challenge—and the benefit—of sharing stories of failure is that it makes the brand show up as vulnerable. And vulnerability is a key ingredient to empathetic and authentic storytelling. - Miri Rodriguez, ‘Brand Storytelling’

Celebrate failure stories and broad-base the learning within the organisation. Eliminate fear of failure. - Richard Lobo, Tata Chemicals

You make your money with your successes, but you make your reputation with the failures. - Anand Chandrasekaran, Five9

In our country, failure is still not taken well; there is a negative connotation attached to it. - Latha Pandiarajan, Ma Foi


The road ahead

Many will fail. And this is not the end of the world. Prepare yourself for the opportunity that is lurking right behind the corner. - Abhishek Rungta, TiE Kolkata

We have an opportunity to recognise issues like failed healthcare systems and financial inequality in our communities, and come together to do something about it. - Liz Hartman, Swiatlo

Everyone needs improv theatre in their life. It teaches you to fail and how to deal with it. It teaches spontaneity and dealing with all the curveballs life throws at you. - Arjun Mehra, Improv Comedy Bangalore

Failure can lead to a new opportunity. Be open and flexible. - Jaime Faus, Pullman Bangkok Hotel G

In the fight against COVID-19, the spirit of humanity shouldn’t fail. - Abhishek Mishra, RBITC

Endurance has become the universal goal. - Sanil Sachar, Trusox

Part of the journey will entail failure. How you deal with it is vital, because the journey will be riddled with mistakes. - Antoinette Prophy, 88 Business Collective

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).