on Failure [updated]…

The last few days have had me thinking about strategy, decision making and failing. Andrew Warner of mixergy.com had a post on goal setting where he talked about changing directions in a startup. That got me thinking a lot about my own experiences and how many of the companies I’ve worked with have changed strategy, sometimes drastically (and not always wisely). And just as I was postulating a post on knowing when to change, Andrew posted ‘i failed’. I don’t think Andrew failed, nor do I think Mixergy.com has failed. I think mixergy is experiencing the natural evolution of a startup committed to success. Andrew is destined for more success for certain. His video and the comments from the community had me thinking about a post (original below) that was orinally titled on failure and sucking. Some level of ‘failure’ is an [unfortunate] part of entrepreneurship for most folks who’ve chosen that path. But, if you are smart about it, you will learn a ton and be ever more prepared for your next venture. Here are a few examples of things I’ve learned in a few fails (my own and others):

  • don’t wait until you need money to start raising money
  • don’t change strategy too early or too often (or too late)
  • don’t bet the farm on one uber product
  • don’t outsource too much of your core
  • don’t underestimate the importance of building a real team
  • and on and on…

So, if you’ve failed go start again!

[original post from june 3rd]

Ahh, the much avoided topics of failure and sucking. The very words themselves are not ones that many like to use in reference to their own experiences. They conjure up some very negative vibes. But failure, or set backs, and understanding your ‘sucks’ are an important part of development for innovators.

How an otherwise successful, driven and intelligent person deals with a set back and/or failure shows what they’re really made of. It is key to make sure you are learning all the way (what not to do, what to do differently, what to let others do, etc). I remember indirectly asking one of the successful startup guys in NorCal what he thought about setbacks/failures impact on one’s own brand – he said not to worry and keep swinging. At the end of the day, very few entrepreneurs are successful the first time up to bat. Some say ‘fail early, fail often’. Interesting concept. Guy Kawasaki twittered a link to a great article today in Fortune, the liberating effect of failure, which got me thinking about perseverance and failings (hence this post). My personal take is that once you get comfortable with the fact that failure is a part of taking risk, you can more comfortably and confidently move forward in your pursuit of innovation.

And there is a fun post today by Brad Feld at the AlwaysOn blog – what do you suck at? The exercise that the group went through sounds awesome. Understanding your ‘sucks’ and building a team around you and your leadership team that compensates for the sucks is one of the keys to success. Building a startup is harder, takes longer, takes more diverse skills and more money than most people think. So have a firm grasp on your strenghts and weeknesses and being open/honest will only help improve your chances of success.

So, go without fear, fill your ‘sucks’ and start something!

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Comments
3 Responses to “on Failure [updated]…”
  1. I think your point about betting too much on one uber-product is dead right with me. I should have tested scaled-down versions of my idea and seen if they could get traction.

    I’m going to post an interview today with another entrepreneur who had a similar problem.

    Love your thoughts on this. Great post.

  2. Growing up surfing helped me to learn early on that it’s all about ‘failing forward’. Learn and do it better next time. then find your niche and ride that bitch.

    So many folks are so bent on ‘perfection’ and I see it paralyzing so many folks, robbing them of their self expression and creativity. I’m not interested in perfection, it’s a lost cause, I’m interested in promoting excellence.

    Chris, ‘fail early and fail often’ makes lots of sense.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  1. […] failure. My good friend and associate, Chris Gammill, danced with the ugly step-sister of failure here. I’d like to think that Andrew iterated and didn’t […]



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