Failures and breakthroughs – exposed, reflected, considered

Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurship

are you ready for an entrepreneurial jump?

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  • Do you solve a real problem?
  • Do your family/friends support you?
  • Will you sacrifice anything to make your business a success, putting normal life on hold?
  • Are you prepared for a lonely journey?
  • Are you resilient enough to listen to NOs/doubters/haters, but stay headstrong?
  • Do you care about your customers/business as if it’s your baby?
  • Have you got co-founders that share your passion/vision?

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

Written by Hayk

October 6, 2011 at 6:45 am

Entrepreneurship is a journey – fail or endure

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If we’d known we were going to make it, the challenge would not have been the same – we might have not gone. If we’d known what lay ahead, we certainly would not have gone.

The paragraph above typifies most entrepreneurial undertakings. It always starts with a bright idea, sense of uniqueness, and feeling of going to accomplish something important and doubtlessly rewarding.

However, the excerpt has little to do with business. It is an account of journey, the longest  at the time (1980-1982) from the Bronx Park (in Northern Winnipeg, Canada) to Belém (in Brasil, where Amazon meets the Atlantic) on canoe, spinning some 12,000 miles (20,000 km). Below is the final entry in the original diary (links are mine).

We have taken some 20 million paddle strokes to get here and have traveled every variety of waterway. We have slept on beaches, in jungles, in fields – sometimes in canoe, on the open water. We have shared simple food and lodgings with the Cuna Indians, the Guajiras, and the Miskitos; we have dined aboard million-dollar yachts. We have eaten shark, turtle, paca, tapir, wild pig, manioca, palm hearts, cactus. In Cartagena, we ate heaps of roasted ants.

We have encountered hundreds of species of creatures: snakes, crocodiles, piranhas, morays, sharks, whales, bees and scorpions. Strangely enough, the only animal that has given us any trouble was man; we have been arrested, shot at, robbed, jailed, and set upon by pirates. At one point we were led off at gunpoint to be executed.

We have been taken for spies and sabotoeurs, have capsized 15 times at sea and spent terrifying nights in pitch blackness riding the ocean breakers without navigation. We have had brushes with the drug trade, suffered food poisoning, blood poisoning, and dehydration. Forty-five times our canoe has been broken on rocks or reefs. Our skin has been baked to scab by the sun. We have been close to starvation.

This is reminiscent of journeys of so many of those leaving their mark in history of business, politics, arts – all human endeavor. Only the details differ, yet how many of those aspiring entrepreneurs have an idea of what awaits them alongside their journeys? How many would carry on having a foresight of future? How many would continue and endure? Not many. Yet at the end, winners always invariably stand alone:

In spite of all we’ve endured, our arrival here in Belém was anything but triumphal. No banners, no champagne, no tears or kisses. Nobody at all… Perhaps we deserve such a fate. We have come too far.

The book documenting this journey is called Paddle to the Amazon by Don Starkell.

Why failure is the ONLY path to success

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Failure. Success. What association do we have with each? Google search of the word “success” returns nearly 281 million results whereas that of “failure” 119 million. These are telling numbers and they seem to reveal the underlying “logic” of our lives. We are afraid of failures, whether they are in our personal lives and in our careers (whether changing a job/career or starting your own business).

Many are driven and inspired by success stories, recipes and recommendations of others. Success, even if it is not yours, feels good. It feels comfortable. Present and future, in that one instant, seem to become brighter and more rewarding. We live in that instant and want to stay in it.

Many are afraid of failure. We hide our failures. We try to forget them. We mostly attribute our failures to a bad luck, an out-of-control happenstance or an incident. Very few of us openly admit a failure, even less their part in it.

What we don’t necessarily know is that fear of failure destroys any chance for a possible success in future. What we also might not know is that failure breeds success.

Throughout our history, many a successful entrepreneurs, businessmen, politicians, scientists failed first before reaching success. Google returns about 672,000 search results for “failure quotes,” and each of those pages – this is a good example –  contains quotations and saying of those who made history.

I selected excerpts from some of modern (and currently very) successful entrepreneurs, businessmen and bloggers who tell of their failure stories and experiences.

Brazilian blogger Luciano Passuello, who is passionate about the world of our minds, thinks that failure “is the only way to go far enough”

Have you failed before? Was it as terrible as you had anticipated? Well, here you are reading this article, so it seems you survived all right. Truth is, failure is almost never as bad as we imagine. Fear of failure is usually much worse than failure itself.

Ryan Healy, dubbed “Most Referred Direct Response Copywriter on the Internet,” during his early youth, trying to grab on courses and lectures promising success and fortune,  admits

I was what they call a “hyper responder.” I’d buy just about anything that promised freedom and fortune. I bought programs about how to trade the commodities market (and I actually did that and made money); I bought programs on how to bet the horses; I even bought a program about how to become a “waste auditor.”

But as my drive intensified, I began to make larger investments.

I dropped $5,000 on a real estate investment course. I realized too late that I was uncomfortable using the techniques in the program; it was basically worthless to me.

And while that loss hurt, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as the next mistake I was about to make.

Yes, he made mistakes. We all do. But he came out of these mistakes and experiences a stronger person.

Ben Settle, an email marketing expert and web entrepreneur, thinks that

Because weird as it sounds, failure is a requirement for success.

And like it or not, without failure you can’t truly succeed, so avoiding it pretty much makes you dead in the water right out the gate.

I’ve met (and worked with) some serious “power players” in business. Not just on the Internet, but offline biz owners, too. I’m talking about people who sometimes make more scratch in a DAY than the average working stiff makes in 6 months toiling away for the corporate beast masters.

And you know what all these people have in common?

They started out as miserable FAILURES.

Last but not least, remember one thing. If you are failing or what you are doing is failing and things just seem plain bleak and without any perspective, then perhaps, it is time to give up what you are doing and start anew. Or perhaps, it is time to start doing something else.

As a serial entrepreneur and bestselling co-author of Trust Agents, Chris Brogan puts it

There is a right time to give up. There’s a right time to quit. The trick, and it is a HUGE trick, is knowing which is which.

adding that

Remember that surrender is every bit as much a part of strategy as victory. Learning when to surrender or lose a smaller battle has been part of the success plan of every major war ever fought. The trick is in knowing what really matters, and never letting go of that. The problem we have is that we fall into the trenches and think the battle is the war.

Failure. Success. Two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other.

Embrace your failure and you will succeed.

Example: have your idea take off while saving money and getting results

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You have an idea – everyone has an idea – but so what? Just because you have what you consider a bright, innovative idea, doesn’t make it automatically into a ready-made product, service or any other added value to what already exists. To make sure your idea is worthy, firstly, bounce it off of as many different people – anyone who might give you a valuable input or opinion whether from within or without a relevant domain or field for you – and open your mind to critique (adding new value to your idea) as much as possible.

Once you start considering (a hitherto unconsidered) factors stemming from breaking initial presuppositions, stereotypes, narcissistic flavors and just plain and simple information about market, competition, trends that somehow slipped through your fingers, you will start clearly seeing, visualizing what you are after.

Next, execution.

But, wait a minute. Even in execution there are ways and ways. The latter is what you must consider if you financial situation is still  (or will shortly become) somewhat shaky.

In this era of mushrooming Internet technologies – especially web 2.0-related/devised – doing business online or putting an online business presence is becoming easier by day. Traditional means of creating, building and sustaining a business are either becoming obsolete or reinventing themselves. There luminaries like Umair Haque who has awesomely created Awesomeness Manifesto and much more.

And of course, with the current economic situation, we are all looking how to do it a 21st-century-style-innovative and to save money while doing it.

Let’s take an illustrative example. In 2004, Heather Allard “started 2 Virtues Inc. to bring my inventions, Swaddleaze and Blankeaze to market.”

She spent in excess of $54K (even without product manufacturing).

If I started 2 Virtues now in 2009, I’d do things so differently.  I could start a business for under $1000 by doing these 5 things:

  1. Skip the Website
  2. Hire a Freelancer
  3. DIY
  4. Become a Social Butterfly
  5. Free Stuff

If you read carefully the entire article (containing many nice tips, free tools and additional links) you will see how Heather – if she started in 2009 with all her current knowledge and experience – would have been able to economize on practically every aspect of her business initiative, thanks mostly to the Internet and free online tools, methodologies and techniques.

Instead of $54K, you can spend <$1K. What do you think about that?

Written by Hayk

October 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm