[Column] Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten: Stop talking about failure
A question often asked of entrepreneurs is: How do you deal with failure? It seems like a logical question, but I recently realized that it is the wrong question; it's focused on persistence and disappointment. I don't think most entrepreneurs feel like they fail a lot, that's just not how they keep score. I'll give you a simple analogy...
If you enjoy playing basketball and you are trying to throw a ball through a hoop, you need to practice. There's an upfront investment. You buy the clothes, reserve the time, mentally prepare, and then you give it a try. You fail on the first try, so you try again. Then you practice nine times and on the tenth try you score.
At the end of the day you don't conclude that you've failed nine times and succeeded the tenth time. You’ve just been busy getting to your goal. You don't stop to think about how you dealt with the disappointment of missing nine times. Your focus, always, is in reaching your goal.
Business is no different. There’s no failure, only steps closer to your goal. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve failed or what my biggest failure was. That’s not how I keep track of things. I'm working, and I need persistence and to deal with the occasional feeling of disappointment. Even if a company fails, it doesn't really feel like failure to an entrepreneur. At one of my startups that went nowhere we used to joke that we "successfully showed that it didn't work."
That's not failure. That's progress.
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten is een serial internet entrepreneur en is oprichter en eigenaar van The Next Web, een techmediabedrijf dat zich focust op Generation T; de generatie met een groeiende interesse in technologie. Voor The Next Web schrijft Boris wekelijks een blog die tevens wordt gepubliceerd op Marketing Report.