By Lisa Rehurek | Point of View
In the realm of small business, the fear of failure often looms large. Redefining our relationship with failure can unlock the door to unprecedented success.
Failure is often viewed negatively but is an inevitable part of the entrepreneurial journey. Yet, it is through failures that we gain the most valuable lessons and insights. Embracing failure, rather than fearing it, can be the key to a small business’s success.
Imagine you’re baking a cake from scratch. The first time you attempt it, you might not get the proportions right, the cake might not rise, or it could even get burnt. This is akin to business failure. Each failed attempt teaches you something – perhaps the oven was too hot, or you mixed the ingredients in the wrong order, or you used subpar ingredients.
Just like refining a recipe, you take these lessons, adjust your approach, and try again. Each failure brings you one step closer to the perfect cake.
Similarly, in business, each failure teaches you something new about your market, your strategy, or your operations. With every lesson learned, you’re one step closer to achieving your business goals.
When I first started my business, I had 20 years of corporate employment under my belt. Failure is generally not embraced in corporate America. In fact, just the opposite. You fail, you didn’t get the job done; you were deemed unsuccessful.
Redefining that relationship with failure has changed how I approach each venture I undertake. I’ve learned to not only embrace failure, but to crave it.
First, failure is an excellent teacher. It provides a reality check, offering a clear indication of what isn’t working. This feedback is invaluable, allowing us to refine our strategies and approaches. When a endeavor fails, it’s not a sign to surrender but a chance to reevaluate and innovate. By embracing failure, we transform it into a catalyst for improvement and creativity.
Second, failure cultivates resilience. The journey of entrepreneurship is filled with ups and downs. Experiencing failure equips small business owners with the tenacity and perseverance required to navigate these turbulent waters. This resilience, born out of failure, is a cornerstone of entrepreneurial success.
Third, embracing failure promotes risk-taking. In the business world, progress often requires stepping out of comfort zones. Taking calculated risks can lead to breakthroughs and substantial growth. However, risk and failure are two sides of the same coin. By viewing failure as a stepping stone rather than a setback, we encourage the boldness necessary to seize opportunities and drive our businesses forward.
Finally, and my personal favorite, failure instills humility and empathy and enhances our leadership capabilities. It reminds us of our shared human frailty, keeping us grounded. Empathy is cultivated through our own encounters with failure and enables us to connect more deeply to foster a culture of understanding and mutual support.
While the pursuit of success is the driving force behind every small business, it’s the ability to embrace and learn from failure that truly paves the way. As a small business owner, don’t let the fear of failure hold you back. Instead, harness its power, learn from it, and let it propel you towards your business objectives.
Editor’s Note: Lisa Rehurek is founder and CEO of The RFP Success Company.