Success stories are inspiring. But so-called failure stories may be more instructional. They remind us that what really separates the “winners” from the “losers” is the ability to not only overcome fear of failure, but to use it to one’s advantage.
Here, five local founders and CEOs expound on the vital importance of failure:
“If you’re not failing, that’s a problem. We have failures every day… projects we spend a year on that still aren’t ready for market that we need to restart. I’m happy that we have an environment as a company where we can learn from our failures.”
- – Larry Drebes, Founder, Janrain
“You have to feel comfortable periodically having your dreams dashed from your hands and stomped on by cold, hard reality. You have to get back up again. A lack of failure in someone’s life does tell you something, and it tells you that either they have been fantastically lucky, or they’ve taken no risks. Anyone who is doing anything remotely entrepreneurial, by definition it’s a risk. If everyone agreed it was a good idea you’d have so much competition it would no longer be a good idea.”
- – Luke Kanies, CEO & Founder, Puppet Labs
“We’ve had our share of failure. When we founded the business initially, we wanted to build chips to solve this video distribution problem. After 8 months of banging our head against the wall trying to get a chip company going, we decided to completely change the architecture that we were building the technology on, switch to a software model and go from there. That initial failure really led us to the path of building software based technology that has been very successful in the market.”
- – Sam Blackman, CEO & Co-founder, Elemental Technologies
“We have to have the confidence to take risks and try new things in the marketplace, but we also have to have the humility to learn from our mistakes.”
- – Sam Pardue, CEO, Indow Windows
“As a teenager I was running a business that failed, and I learned that there was life after failure. In fact, failure makes you stronger. It’s only called failure when you stop trying. I view giving up as not owning the problem. You have to look at everything as, ‘What’s the way forward here?’ ”
- – Mat Ellis, CEO, Cloudability
As an entrepreneur, what have you learned about failure? How have you learned to embrace it?