The Dirty F Word

Seriously people, being in business is exciting. It’s full of risks and rewards. Of course success is easy to brag about but nobody likes to talk about their failures. Yet we all know that without those nasty blunders we would not be where we are today, smarter, wiser and more successful because of them. So let’s be honest and give some attention to the dirty little F word: failure.

Earlier this month an anonymous start-up company decided to announce its failure in a big way, by blogging on Tumblr about the eminent demise. The blog, entitled “In 30 days my start-up will be dead” chronicled the last 30 days of pitfalls and heartbreak, including the ultimate back breaker, not making payroll. The unheard of approach toward failure drew attention from industry analysts, and even physiological professionals who have all found the admission of total failure refreshingly honest. Nobody starts a business under the premise that they will fail, and failure doesn’t have to be the complete end of the business. However by being honest with ourselves and keeping reality in check, you will be better prepared for failure and able to keep moving forward.

It seems obvious that start-ups need money like SUV’s need gas. They may need cash from investors, angel funding, or venture capital, or all of them. Equally important to getting and keeping the cash flowing is having a clear direction and a plan that is being executed along the way. It is fair to assume that the main reason for the failure of a start-up is the lack of money, capital or investors, but in fact you know what they say when you assume. The shocking reality is that being short funded is not the number one common denominator for the failure of most start-ups.

Surprisingly having only one founder is the main reason for failure. It starts with the Entrepreneur and it often ends with the Entrepreneur. Being understaffed and overloaded makes everything you’ve worked so hard to get erode away as you yourself crumble under the daily pressures. In the blog “In 30 days my start-up will be dead’, the author describes “I’m overwhelmed, I’m stretched thin, and unable to do a really good job at any of my duties, I don’t sleep, I’m scared.”

Across the board Entrepreneurs are highly skilled business people in any industry. They are afraid of nothing, not even failure, and let nothing stop them from trying to get it all done. The one downfall of many Entrepreneurs and over achievers is the need to do it all yourself, single-handedly, not asking for help because it shows weakness. The simple truth is that needing help in business is not a sign of incompetence, it is a sign of growth.

Allowing the original vision for the start-up to become blurred in the everyday business of doing business is common and deadly, it is the second most common reason for the failure of start-ups. Forgetting the product, if people will buy it or if the product could be better before launch or should be redesigned, are all critically important questions to ask along the way. Being product-centric, embracing and addressing (internally) your flaws and asking for help are all the not so secret, secrets of success. And if you do fail, hope to fail fast, don’t bleed out. Stitch yourself up, learn how not to play with sharp objects and build something all over again. Take your scissors and run with them, after all you’re an Entrepreneur, that’s what you do.

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