What Is Good Failure And Bad Failure In Business?

Business ideas fail. Businesses fail. It happens. But I believe failure can be good. There is no better way of learning fast, of learning how to do it correctly – next time. Nothing drives home a complex set of lessons faster and more durably than landing on your ass. Failure is an essential, natural and inescapable part of learning. Failure in the end leads to confidence, clarity and commitment.

But I do think that there is good failure and bad failure. Good failure leads somewhere new and better, while bad failure is just failure, and doesn’t lead anywhere except to itself.

You must not ever plan to fail, but our brains are hugely complex and sophisticated and we can afford to be not so narrow-minded about this. You don’t plan to fail – obviously! – but one part of your brain can be working on this problem: if I do fail, how can I plan it so that is a good failure and not a bad one?

Planning good failure is all about making a strict appraisal of how you are distributing your capital. You have to make sure that if your venture fails you are going to have some of it left for the next one. And the money is not necessarily the most important. If you have got enthusiasm and good ideas and solid relationships the money can be a secondary thing.

But you know in the end it is all about working hard and smart and building something carefully, piece by piece, that is yours.

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