How-to · Friday, May 12, 2017

Failure in business: a learning opportunity?

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Decising to go into business also means accepting failure sometimes. But it’s especially the opportunity to focus on failures as a means of learning. Discover the views of three Québec entrepreneurs on this subject.

Initiatives like Failcamp, a series of conferences on the subject of failure, and the recent book published by Arnaud Granata entitled The Power of Failure are proof that how we view failure is different. More and more, setbacks are perceived as being a normal part of the entrepreneur’s path and even as an opportunity to perfect one’s way of doing business. A view of failure that Americans, like small business specialist Melinda Emerson, were quicker to adopt than Canadians.

Julien Brault, founder of the investment start-up Hardbacon, Olivier Lambert, web marketing expert and founder of the entrepreneur community La tranchée, and Benjamin Jébrak, cofounder and CEO of the drone company Elipto, tell us about the failures they encountered as young business owners and the role it played in their growth as entrepreneurs.

Repeated Risks Lead to Learning

“It’s a universal truth and the daily reality for most start-ups,” explains Julien Brault when reflecting on Melinda Emerson’s observation. “Right now we make very little profit, so we don’t have anything to lose. We’re constantly taking risks in order to learn. You can spend three days trying something and even if it fails, you learn in the process,” he explains.

So, while he designed his online comparator to focus on discount brokers (who are his preference) he realized that his target customer preferred robo-advisors. “We always integrated both in our comparators but now by default it’s the robo-advisors that are compared,” he says.

In terms of recruitment, his first hiring experiences showed him that detailed job descriptions often frightened candidates away. They weren’t exactly lining up at the door to work for such a young company. His new approach: “Make a shorter list and focus on people who can adapt easily and who can learn as they go.”

“We learn through lots of little experiences,” he admits as he foresees many failures (and opportunities to learn) in his near future. The Hardbacon founder doesn’t feel intimidated though: “The real failure would be to realize that you’re just standing still.”

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