9 Things You Only Learn After Failure
Everyone failed. From Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to the small business owner of your own shop, enduring failure is simply a fact of life for all entrepreneurs. What distinguishes the best founders from their peers is the ability to learn from this failure.
In a Reddit thread recently posted on the r/business subreddit, dozens of users shared their views on key lessons that can only be learned after failure. Here are some of the best quotes about the wisdom gained from failure:
1. Don’t forget to focus on sales.
You can create a basic product that will revolutionize your industry, but it won’t make much difference if no one knows about it. While focusing on the quality of your product is important, sales and marketing are essential to speak for your business. “It’s not 90 percent product and 10 percent sales,” one editor wrote. “It’s mostly sales.”
2. Learn to spot the signs of toxic characters.
When choosing a business partner and hiring employees, be sure not to indulge yourself in, as one editor calls them, “narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths.” Toxic characters can have a disastrous effect on your business if they are not dealt with quickly. To identify the signs, look for a lack of empathy for others and the use of intelligence or magic to manipulate peers.
3. Go with your gut.
Don’t be afraid to go out on your own path if you have an idea that you believe in. The “this is how it’s always done” mindset can lead to creative stagnation. Just because something is done one way only doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Experiment with new ideas and business models, you never know when you might bump into something great. “Sometimes everyone in your field gets it wrong,” one Redditor wrote.
4. Take notes seriously.
It can be frustrating to receive negative feedback on a product or service that you’ve been passionate about, but don’t ignore it. While working with your intuition is important, driving with solid evidence rather than passion is the key itself. “Don’t get mad at the product’s comments,” one editor wrote. “The first two apps failed because I didn’t listen to the users.”
5. Solve the problem, then create the product.
The success of your business depends on your ability to solve a specific problem using the product or service you have developed. Make sure you’ve actually found a way to solve the problem you’re addressing before you start building the product and looking for funding.
6. Understanding service providers.
Your business will likely need to rely on third party service providers, be it e-commerce, web services, or marketing solutions. Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of each service provider you work with before signing the contract.
7. Learn how to say no.
When starting your business, it can be tempting to accept any job offer that comes your way, but don’t make deals to provide services outside of your expertise just to get some quick cash. Stick to the areas you know you’re strong in and focus on them.
8. Prioritize the co-founder’s relationships.
As someone said, “Founders need more effort, care, and caution than marriage.” While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, it is absolutely essential that you and your co-founder are always on the same page. Presenting a united front to your employees, investors, and customers will do wonders for your reputation.
9. Learn to delegate.
As your business begins to grow, your schedule will become more and more complex to keep track of. Train your employees to take on more high-level tasks. It will save you time and mental strength and will show your employees that you trust them. “It feels great to know that I pay my employees very well and I trust them to do a great job,” says one editor.
Remember these wise words the next time a deal doesn’t go your way or you’re experiencing setbacks in trying to grow your business. As Star Wars’ Yoda once said, “The greatest teacher, failure is.”