Failures can be stepping stones to entrepreneurial success

It continues to puzzle me how people still perceive failure as a bad thing.

Why can’t they view it as a lesson and instead of saying: “Oh god I failed” and dwell on their misery, they could say: “OK, so now this happened. What can I take from it to come back even stronger?” Notice how powerful that statement sounds; how there is hope instilled in it. Imagine if you said that to yourself every time something doesn’t work out in your business. That way, you would have no room for misery to eat away at your mind or, more importantly, your time – the time you could invest into something else.

I have seen it countless times with budding entrepreneurs who quit and return to their comfort zone just because one thing did not work out during the start-up phase.

The most common excuse is one recently shared by an acquaintance: “I’m a perfectionist, and if things do not work out the way I want them to, then I consider it as a failure.”

That is the issue right there. I also used to brag about being a perfectionist, trying to control situations as much as possible to ensure the outcome was to my advantage.

I remember commenting on this trait of mine in one of my previous columns.

However, being a perfectionist in business does not necessarily work to your advantage. While it is always a bonus to have things work out the way you want them to, sometimes they could turn out even better – but only if you let them.

When you give something your best and then just let things be instead of pushing and forcing them, you will free your mind of stress and also achieve an equal if not better outcome.

When I was in university, I came up with different business ideas – things I wanted to work on once I graduated. Entrepreneurship was in my blood. There was so much I wanted to do, and I started planning and moving towards the first step. Then stress or other obstacles would get in the way. The excuses do not matter though, because what I chose to do was quit and not follow things through.

I remember telling myself that I’d failed because I lacked experience in the workplace, in a proper organisation with 8am to 4pm working hours.

Regardless of everything I told myself, guess what happened next? I just started again. I started to develop new ideas, read about success stories and trying to align my passion and business idea together. And I did fail again and again.

This is how it should be done in a business.

Accept the fact that something went wrong and use that to perfect your next move, then start again.

Do you really think it was that easy for the founders of some of the world’s best known brands? Do you think the likes of Steve Jobs and Jack Ma found securing funding to kick-start their businesses a walk in the park? Not at all, and that fact should comfort you, to know that you do have something in common, that failure is part of the journey.

You would have even more in common if you were resilient towards failure and viewed it as a valuable lesson.

Looking back now I know if it wasn’t for failure, I would not have been able to enjoy doing what I do today. Everything that “went wrong” back then led me to where I am today, and I am really grateful for that. Had I not failed, and realised the importance of combining my passion and what I want to do together, I may have been stuck doing something that would have generated good income but was unsatisfying.

All it takes is a tweak of perception. Once you look at things differently, you will realise the power of what those lessons in failure actually bring; they fuel your business and help to develop it further.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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