Failing Your Way To Success

How to make the best of bad business situations

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

It is February 18, 2013, an independent musician, Jack Conte, began a project that would cause him to max out two credit cards with $10,000 dollars worth of debt, but also sink in about 800 hours of work over the course of 50 days.

His aim — to build a replica of the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, one of the most iconic starships in the star wars franchise, for a music video of a song he had just written titled “Pedals”. In addition to this, he borrowed two robots to feature in this video.

As an artist, Jack Conte was no stranger to failure. He describes having piles upon piles of videotapes that he had never done thing to, stop motion films that never aired, two failed debuts into the music space and a bunch of other duds until he found success by creating a band with his then-girlfriend now-wife Natalie Dawn.

The band “Pomplamoose” was able to build a sizable following of fans, who were able and willing to buy their merch. They were able to collaborate with big names in the music industry and even at one point were hired to do a Hyundai Christmas ad. This was the first time he was experiencing such levels of success, both in the level of fame and also financially.

However, at the time of this project, Pomplamoose was on a hiatus, cash flow had reduced significantly and a major source of income was through Youtube ad revenue, which didn’t even pay much.

At this point, Jack realized something, that the work a lot of creators put into their craft is vastly disparate from the benefits they derive from it financially. He knew from experience that if he were to upload the video he was working on he would not be able to recoup his investment, so he though up a plan to enable creators to get paid by their fans for creating content and that idea with the help of his Sam Yam, a serial entrepreneur and programmer they co-founded Patreon.

Patreon is now one of the biggest platforms that provide a way for content creators to earn a monthly income. In a couple of presentations and speeches, Jack Conte has attributed his success to all his previous failures.

Many people are afraid of failure and with good reason. We are taught to dread failing from an early age and this doesn’t exclude entrepreneurs.

Mirriam Webster defines failure as lack of success, a falling short, an inability to perform a normal function. By definition, failure is something to be avoided. But it seems we have been wrong about failure.

Failure has been long ingrained into our success stories without many of us noticing it. We learnt to feed ourselves by bathing in food. We learnt to run by falling over ourselves, and we slowly morphed from scribbling to writing words, then sentences and for some, books.

So here are some ways to utilise failure in business

Don’t just fail, glean insight:

Every failure has something to teach us. Don’t just sulk, or try to pretend the failure didn’t happen. Instead, look back at the possible causes of your failure (was it insufficient research?), hunt for feedback, turn this seemingly bad situation into a learning experience.

Not everything would work:

Business ideas can fail for different reasons. Maybe your idea may be ahead of its time or it may have been poorly executed, maybe you didn’t have the skills to pull it off yet (emphasis on “yet”).

In fact, you may have a ton of skill and expertise and this wouldn’t still lead to success. This is just life, and it may take a lot of “failures” to make a significant success

Think the long game:

Building off the last points, the skills and lessons you learn are very transferable and they will most likely help you navigate your next business venture.

Also, there is the fact that when your business works out, you would still make mistakes. So it is in your best interest to see your problems as opportunities to learn skills that would help you in the long run.

At the end of the day, not every failure is fatal. All of us can learn from our failures and this in turn increases our expertise and success rate. The problem, however, is that many of us have bought into the perfection myth and while it does sound cliche, nobody is perfect.

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” ― Bill Gates

Business Strategy, Startups and Entrepreneurs.