I have read many divergent ideas about starting a business and how to succeed. One recurring theme I hear is to understand how to manage risk and avoid failure. I emphatically reject this idea for several reasons. First, small business entrepreneurs can mitigate risk through insurance and what the entrepreneur deals with is not risk, but uncertainty. Uncertain conditions are not manageable. How can you manage something you do not know about yet?
Second, instead of demonizing failure I believe an entrepreneur should embrace it because I do not know a single entrepreneur that hasn’t failed before succeeding. Failure is part of the program, like it or not! A seasoned entrepreneur knows how to fail and does not quit. Failure paralyzes the inexperienced entrepreneur who moves no further forward. Steve Jobs recognized the need to move on and jump to the next innovation. Jobs believed intelligent people change their minds. A seasoned entrepreneur learns something from each failure and gains valuable experience. An inexperienced entrepreneur is likely to walk away and find a reason on which to blame failure.
I just read in another blog this morning about how Richard Branson’s mother taught him to not look back on failure, but to focus on continuing to move forward. What excellent advice! Setbacks do not bother Branson as he simply goes on to another idea. I wish my mother would have drilled that into me. Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group in case you do not recognize the name.
In my view, successful entrepreneurs have to build a thick skin and rapidly put failure behind them. Successful entrepreneurs learn what they can do differently next time and develop a “gut” to react to uncertain conditions and limit their losses by knowing when to move on and try a different approach.
Small business entrepreneurs still need hard skills to run their business, but they can gain these along the way by finding the right people and learning from them. The successful entrepreneur realizes success is a learning curve and learning comes from trying new approaches and associating with the right people.
What do you think? Does successful entrepreneurship come from managing risks or learning from failure? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment with your thoughts or click here to learn more.