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You Are Going to Fail, So Fail Fast and Move On

You Are Going to Fail, So Fail Fast and Move On

Part of being an entrepreneur is being able to deal with failure.  Failure is a great teacher and can be the catalyst for significant advancement towards your goals.  Failure can also be the business owner’s undoing when it’s not recognized as such and the lessons within are not thoughtfully considered.

Rarely does a business fail in one grand swoop.  Often times, it’s a serious of repeated mistakes that lead to the business declining and eventually closing.  So failure is part of the game.  Recognizing this, you should view failure as an opportunity to improve and ‘FAIL FAST’!

Failure can be described as pursuing a particular course of action which leads to an unintended result.  For most business owners and entrepreneurs, the tendency is to repeat the action in hopes that the outcome will eventually be in line with their expectations.  Unless the initial result is carefully evaluated to determine the exact reason for the failed outcome, doing it again will only confirm that the first failure keeps coming back.

Failing fast means having the ability to recognize early that your outcome can only change if you change your course of action. That doesn’t mean avoiding the risk you took which lead to failure.  No risk in business means no opportunity to succeed.  Learning to evaluate failed outcomes insures you make progress by applying your learning to future actions.

Resisting the need to change for the sake of doing what you are comfortable with or what you know, can cause your failed outcome to keep coming back indefinitely.  Accepting failure as a possibility on the path to success is the best way to reach outcomes you might never have been able to achieve.

Getting comfortable with failure and being able to objectively evaluate why something did not work is not an easy skill for many business people to embrace.  It mean detaching yourself from your passion long enough to recognize what didn’t work and why.  If this is not something you are able to do, here are a few steps to help you better learn from the mistakes you make:

1. Limit your own bias
As human beings, we naturally want to protect what we value.  This clouds our ability to see what went wrong when it involves something important to us. Get clear about what’s important to you and what areas you may have trouble evaluating honestly.

2. Gather the facts
Facts don’t lie.  Learn as much about areas you can substantiate before concluding the reason why your plan failed.  Invite other people who may have been involved to provide their insights if it will help paint a full picture.  Try to limit the amount of perspective you rely on until you’ve considered all the facts.

3. Be open to try different approaches
Whatever produced the failed outcome needs to change.  If you are unwilling to change your approach, don’t expect a better outcome.  If you change the wrong area because your facts were incomplete, you’ll likely suffer another failure, just a different version.

4. Set objectives with benchmarks
The key to failing fast is recognizing early on that you are going in the wrong direction.  One way to prevent this is by establishing benchmark.  These are smaller goals that can be measured along the way to insure you’re moving in the right direction.  Too often, business owners will follow a plan for too long when early on there were signs that the plan was not working.

Being willing to embrace the lessons of failure is sometimes difficult.  Passionate business owners tend not to want to see things with their eyes open, preferring instead to push towards their dream.  In reality, maintaining focus on your dream should not exclude the need for course corrections along the way.  The cost of making changes early in order to guide your efforts towards a successful outcome are miniscule compared to completing the plan, recognizing the failure and realizing the outcome could have been successful if problems had been addressed earlier.

History is also replete with examples of some of the world’s greatest success stories born of repeated failure.  And while perseverance goes a long way to reaching your ultimate goals, you don’t have to endure a lifetime of failure in order to get it right.  Here’s a great article about ’26 Successful People Who Failed at First’.

Failure creates setbacks.  Failure also creates the opportunity for significant acceleration towards success.  It’s all how you look at it.  More importantly, it’s what you do after you recognized that you have failed.  So fail fast and move on!

Steve Smith is a business coach who specializes in helping small businesses come up with a plan to succeed. To visit his site, click here.