I often get the feeling that people see me as the guy who founded the successful website SoumissionRenovation.ca and for whom everything is going according to plan! And yet my career in entrepreneurship was not always easy. There were many challenges to overcome, including my own self-questioning. But there is one thing I’m sure of: The failures I experienced made me into the entrepreneur I am today. In Quebec, we don’t foster a culture of failure—we don’t value it, even though it’s such a formative experience! You shouldn’t be afraid of your failures—you should own them.
My entrepreneurial adventure began when I was an 18-year-old student. I acquired my first franchise business offering window-cleaning services as a result of joining an extracurricular program at school. That’s when I really got bit by the entrepreneurship bug. But I was so super-motivated and thirsty for success I did not remember the importance of delegating work in order to give yourself a break. That’s when I learned my first lesson as an entrepreneur: Your employees or partners will not react the same way you do to work. That doesn’t mean that everything is on your shoulders—on the contrary, it simply means you need to develop empathy. Achieving success with my franchises gave me confidence, so I began a new challenge by starting a business with two partners. We were overflowing with ideas, but it didn’t work out and we experienced significant failure. Why? Because all three of us were focused on innovation and our mistake was to forget to take care of the execution. And that was my second lesson as an entrepreneur: You can have the world’s best idea, but if you don’t put any effort into execution, it won’t work.
An entrepreneur at heart, I instinctively looked for new opportunities. That was how SoumissionRenovation.ca was born. The platform was a success from the beginning because I took care not to repeat the same mistakes from the past. I had three watchwords: structure, organization and execution. With the most recent business I co-founded, B2B Quotes, the mistakes I made in the past allowed me to build the company more efficiently and more quickly.
I have many more entrepreneurial tales like these, and they allow me today to turn every attempt in the market into a new adventure. And from these experiences, I’ve learned a lot of important lessons that will help me in times of failure:
1. Recover, analyze and start again
Taking the time to recover and remove yourself from failure is super-important. You definitely have to take a break and analyze the things that didn’t work (in complete objectivity). This way you can see what lessons you want to keep, what market opportunities you missed, etc. After going through this thought process you’ll be able to start another business.
2. Keep moving forward
While you need to be able to benefit from your experience, you shouldn’t stay focused on the past. Going through difficult times is definitely disagreeable, but don’t get discouraged. As the saying goes, there’s always the calm after the storm.
3. Learn to handle criticism
Knowing how to listen is essential, but don’t take every bit of criticism personally. No matter what you do, people will always make negative remarks or tell you your plans will never work. Instead, try to turn the criticism into an opportunity to get to know your product or market better, and take advantage of this questioning to find ways to improve. Criticism should feed your motivation, not discourage you.
4. Learn how to find a good team
In my opinion, having a mentor is an indispensible element in the entrepreneurial journey. Mentors are people with whom you can speak openly and who will bring you back down to earth if necessary. When you have a business, you sometimes forget the world around you and lose your objectivity when making decisions. While you might be the sole decision maker in the end, but sure to surround yourself with sources of good advice during your decision-making process.
5. Knowing yourself well will help you get through the hard times
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is crucial as an entrepreneur. It allows you to better anticipate your reactions and handle stress and difficult periods.
6. Develop your management skills
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you’re a good manager. Like any other skill, it needs to be learned. In my case, my first reflex is to be even more present for my team when we’re experiencing difficulties. You really need to set the example and maintain motivation. Never forget that as an entrepreneur, you’re the motor driving your business.
7. Don’t be overconfident
While it’s important to be motivated, involved and confident, watch out for overzealousness. Success could end at any moment. To handle this reality, you need to constantly evolve, question everything and never take anything for granted. Being overconfident could lead to making bad decisions and believing you are immune to failure.
I believe that failure changes our perspective. You shouldn’t be ashamed of it—it’s part of entrepreneurial life. I’m convinced that it’s only by accepting your failures that you can build future success.