Getting to know it, getting around it and getting over it: Failure is intimately tied to the entrepreneurial process. Yet many fear it and few talk about it. A long-time taboo, failure is finally becoming an acceptable and encouraged topic of conversation. Fail Camp proposes that we look at the value of failure. Whether it be bankruptcy, lack of sales or poor performance, mistakes and failures stand as rich learning experiences. Failure is not as scary as it may seem if you embrace it as a valuable learning opportunity.
Talk about it!
We must first acknowledge the fear of failure in order to overcome it. Identifying the reasons for setbacks ensures that you will be better equipped to deal with the future and whatever new challenges it may bring. What caused the mistake? What didn’t work? What can be done to improve the situation?
Failure is an integral part of the entrepreneurial adventure and should remain so. Entrepreneurship also means learning how to make mistakes.
Fail to get ahead
Joseph Schumpeter theorized it, entrepreneurs experience it: we need to believe that out of chaos comes growth. Innovative solutions are the antidote to failure and progress comes from innovation. We only have to look at how professional chess players use their failures to avoid the same pitfalls in the future to understand that learning experiences absolutely pay off in the end.
Thomas Edison wrote, “I failed my way to success.” Being an entrepreneur means innovating your way through failure.
Get inspired, participate in Fail Camps
As failure becomes normalized, events solely dedicated to the subject are on the rise. People attend Fuckup Nights to share their failures over drinks. FailCon is a daylong conference dedicated to the theme of failure in whatever form it may take. In Quebec, Fail Camp has become an indispensible tool for entrepreneurs wanting to explore failure in its various forms. Whether you are a venture capitalist facing bankruptcy or an editor-in-chief whose last edition was drowning in typos, you can learn something from the experience. The camp’s mission to legitimize failure and error as a source of knowledge is gaining momentum. Launched in Montreal four years ago, Fail Camp had its first event in Quebec City this past January.
Being an entrepreneur means being prepared to meet failure
One of the key skills of an entrepreneur is the capacity to bounce back from mistakes and face change head-on. Staying true to your convictions and developing grit, perseverance and adaptability are foundational values for the entrepreneurial mindset.
Resilience is a key topic of interest for many prestigious university programs. At Stanford, the Resilience Project serves as a resource that allows students to share and support each other in the face of setbacks. Every year the community hosts a Stanford, I Screwed Up event where students are invited to celebrate and overcome their “epic fails” by sharing their experiences publicly.
Entrepreneurship means adapting to change.
Value the lessons learned from past failures
Despite being a topical subject these days, failure is still not always valued as an experience. Yet achievement is often the culmination of successes and failures. It is important to know what good and bad failure looks like. Does the failure that can be brushed aside by ultimately pursuing your business idea outweigh the regret of not having tried out of fear of failing?
Looking at failure inevitably leads to focusing on the main goal for any entrepreneur: success. Entrepreneurship is about making failure an asset.
Fail Camp in Numbers
- 200,000: People reached through social media
- 4: Number of countries that Fail Camp has visited (Thailand, France, Switzerland and the U.S.)
- 2008: The year of the first Fail Camp, which was held in Philadelphia
- 2011: The year the first Fail Camp was held in Quebec
Want to know more?
Visit Fail Camp’s website
Fail Awards by Francis Gosselin, Fail Camp’s content manager
The Origin of Wealth by Eric Beinhocker. The author challenges the modern theories of economics and proposes instead that the emerging field of complexity economics best explains markets and growth.
Having faced failure in all of his businesses, Elon Musk is the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit. Better to get up and press on than to allow setbacks to keep you down.