How to interpret failure and recover from it: Tips from authors at the Bangalore Business LitFest 2021

Speakers at the Bangalore Business LitFest share insights on how to frame and accept failure, and bounce back smarter. Here are some key takeaways.
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The seventh annual Bangalore Business Literature Festival (BBLF) is being held virtually this year due to the ongoing pandemic. As media partner for BBLF, see YourStory’s coverage of earlier editions in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.

See also YourStory’s Book Review section with reviews of over 320 titles, and our compilation of 85 Quotes on World Book Day.

In the earlier preview article, we shared startup success tips from 10 authors. They addressed scale strategies for startups, the role of leadership and culture, and cultivating customer and network connections.

BBLF 2021 will be held next week on September 21-23, with four-hour sessions spread across three evenings.

In this article, authors explain why it is important to accept that failure is part of the experimentation journey in business, how not to diminish self-worth, the distinction between product and company failure, and the role of coaching and mentorship.

1. Accepting failure rates

“It is rare to find an entrepreneur who succeeded with their first venture and the first product. The first product and the first company would invariably fail,” explains Kaninika Mishra, author of The Indic Quotient: Reclaiming Heritage Through Cultural Enterprise.

“This is true both statistically and anecdotally. Founders who make it are able to learn from failure and adapt to the changes,” she adds.

2. Mindset

“A failure is a failure no matter what the scale. Your ability to not allow any failure to diminish your self-worth and self-belief is the most vital factor,” advises Bhavna Dalal, Founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners, and author of Checkmate Office Politics.

“You have to develop the ability to detach to see that a product or company failing does not mean you are a failure. Instead, using it to learn and improve your comprehension is what will take you far,” she suggests.

3. Causes and types of failure

“According to Bloomberg, only 20 percent of new businesses find success within their first eighteen months. Reasons for this could be failure on the part of marketing, management or finances,” observes Dr Karthik Nagendra, CEO of ThoughtStarters, and author of The Thought Leader Way: Leading Your Business with Thought Leadership in an Altered World.

While a turnaround from a product failure can be faster, the same would not be the case with the failure of the entire company itself. “This can many times lead to the ‘fear of failure’ in itself to proceed further,” he cautions.

“Failing of the product offers a chance to pivot, reposition,” observes Suresh Narasimha, tech entrepreneur, Co-founder at CoCreate Ventures, and owner of JustBooks, a library chain and platform. "Product failure can be addressed by the creativity and skills of the entrepreneur," he adds.

4. Leadership coaching

In the case of company failure, founders need to be coached for reflection, which involves a number of steps. “Understand the root of fear of failure. Learn to spot signs of fear of failure, and take steps to overcome it. Determine several reasons that attributed for business failure and explore strategies to overcome them for the future,” Karthik Nagendra advises.

He cites Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba, “No matter what one does, regardless of failure or success, the experience is a form of success in itself.”

 “Failing with a company is about the leader and team, and is often very hard to fix,” observes Suresh Narasimha.

“Failure of a company is a bigger challenge and requires the right mentor or coach for the entrepreneur,” he explains. He runs a company Upaghna Ventures whose focus includes the second type of failure.

5. Building immunity

“Whether a product or company, resilience comes with building immunity,” observes R Gopalakrishnan, author of over 15 books on management, including A Biography of Innovations and Wisdom for Startups from Grown-ups.

“Enterprise immunity comes out of three things: keeping sufficient financial runway; strengthening people power through engagement, culture, and positivity; and adaptive capability,” he signs off.

A wide range of such issues will be discussed at the three-day business literature festival. Other topics include the changing workplace, digital media platforms, the future of marketing, and Indian business writing.

“It's truly a festival of ideas, journeys, stories, insights. Make time for it. It's a goldmine – unless you go and dig, you will only be staring at the rocks surrounding it,” advises Benedict Paramanand, Co-founder of BBLF, and author of CK Prahalad: The Mind of the Futurist.


YourStory’s flagship startup-tech and leadership conference will return virtually for its 13th edition on October 25-30, 2021. Sign up for updates on TechSparks or to express your interest in partnerships and speaker opportunities here.

For more on TechSparks 2021, click here.

Applications are now open for Tech30 2021, a list of 30 most promising tech startups from India. Apply or nominate an early-stage startup to become a Tech30 2021 startup here.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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