Failure sucks. Especially when it comes to startups, it’s really tough to get back on the bandwagon once you have failed in your business. All those dreams you had, all those aspirations that one day you were going to build something that would make you feel proud, and that would change the world for the better; only for them to come crashing down on you all at once. Every entrepreneur, when he starts out, has this fire burning – of passion, of determination, of the will to succeed at what’s he going to do. Day in and day out, he works tirelessly to make his dreams a reality, comforting himself in the knowledge that all the hard work he has put in, is going to pay off one day.
However, the harsh reality is, most entrepreneurs fail, especially in their first few ventures. And, that comes as a huge blow to one’s confidence, self-esteem, and most importantly, his dreams. An entrepreneur, who has failed, will never be the same again; and the several clichés about how it’s about learning from your failures, how failure is essential for success, while sounding good on paper, do little to get him out the rut that he digs himself into, after he fails. Here’s my story of failure, and the lessons it has taught me about business, and life in general.
About two years back, I took a “leave of absence” from my studies to come back to India, and start up a business on my own. Looking back at that time, every single day, I would wake up feeling excited, looking forward to take baby steps towards making my dream a reality. I loved what I was doing, and could not wait to see when it would all come together. I conceptualized a business plan for a niche that very few had gotten into, yet (now I know why!), prepared and polished prototypes of the model, put together the branding, logo, and designs, got the company incorporation done – and finally, started getting the development done for the business. Eight grueling months later, my website, GenCrowd, was finally ready to go live.
Words cannot describe my feelings at the time – I was excited, happy, and terrified all at the same time, not to mention, a bit relieved. Things were finally starting to make sense, I thought, and were only going to go up from then on. A month or so later, the party was over – it all crashed. The thing is, I had being fully prepared for the tasks that needed to be done to get the business ready, but had no clue about the tasks that were needed to be done post-launch. Marketing the business, hiring and putting together a solid team for the company, pivoting and modifying the service based on user feedback, among a host of other things – were all too much than I could deal with, at the time. Things flew by, and a year or so later, I stopped paying for the website’s hosting, which marked an official end to the business.
It would be safe to say that initially, I was devastated. I felt like a complete, utter failure. I felt as if I had let my family, and the people who had stayed by the side all this time, down. I almost decided that I had had enough of being a so-called entrepreneur, and to go back, complete my education, and join a regular, secure job just like everyone else I knew. It was supposed to be my destiny, I thought, and that I was simply not cut out for entrepreneurship. Feelings of despair and dejection clouded my mind most of the time, and I gradually started to distance myself from everyone I knew, including friends, family, and acquaintances. I had poured in all of the savings I had from my full-time job at the time, to this business – and along with the time and effort spent in this process, it all seemed as if everything had gone to waste.
Months passed by this way, and eventually, something started to slowly dawn on me. I still woke up every day with the feeling that I was going to build something, some day; something that I could pride myself on. It did not matter that I felt like crap the rest of the day – there was still that fire burning, however tiny, that I was an entrepreneur, and that I was eventually going to make my own destiny, however long it might take. I came to realize that feelings of failure and self-doubt are the worst things that could ever happen to an entrepreneur, and that the secrets to success were indeed hidden in those clichés about failure that I had come to disregard over time. It’s that realization that has slowly, but surely, helped me get back on my feet, and bid my time for another day, another opportunity.
Hope is a powerful thing. Hope may be about anything, be it for a better future for yourself, be it being on the cover of Times one day, or be it having a family that you love. Whatever the aspirations may be, it’s hope that keeps a person striving to achieve his dreams, even against severe odds. It’s hope that keeps an entrepreneur positive, and from despairing – even when his business is going through rough times. And, it’s hope that we have to fall back on when dealing with, and trying to overcome failure when it happens in our lives.
Photo Source: Tina M89