No one sets out to start their day — much less their business — with a failure.
When we started reporting for this issue, we knew that well. But we were somewhat surprised at business owners' reluctance to share what they've learned when things went wrong. They cringed at our requests to recount their worst moments, even after we explained we were more interested in how the experience made them better in the end.
In Silicon Valley, failure has become something to embrace. “Fail fast” is a saying often uttered by tech company CEOs — so they can get the pain over with and move on to the learning part as quickly as possible. They believe these setbacks are essential, and inevitable, for their business.
But whether you embrace missteps or eschew them, failures happen. And in business, failures come in all shapes and sizes. The trick for a business owner or top executive is how do you overcome failure?
Sometimes that's not as easy as the pick-yourself-up-and-get-back-on-the-horse cliche. Many times an entrepreneurial failure requires a big piece of humility and lots of self-reflection. It also helps to have a guide of what to do next, especially with intricate and big-dollar decisions.
Take Chuck Papageorgiou. The Tampa businessman once made such a big goof, with a business designed to increase trucking efficiency, that it wiped out $7.5 million of his net worth in three months. Papageorgiou found his way back from that debacle, and now counsels young entrepreneurs about how to overcome failures.
In this Business Observer special issue on overcoming business failures, one theme, from Papageorgiou and others, is failure usually happens when it's least expected.
Jeremy Overturf, who runs a carpet-cleaning business in Bradenton with his wife, Stefanie Overturf, says that's OK with him. Overturf says he approaches every failure, or at least he tries to, with a positive learn-something attitude. “It's not the end when you fail, it's just part of the process,” Overturf says. “The more times you fail, the closer you get to success.”
Sounds like some good advice. Read about it here.
Bombing a big event
Staying in the garage too long
Not having a funding agreement
Lacking confidence to lead