During the time I’ve spent in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is about ten years now, I’ve heard a lot of theories and smugness about how to start and grow a business. One of the most prevalent theories is that failure is a mandatory rite of passage on your road to success.
This school of thought comes mainly from the United States, and is therefore linked to a representative culture which tends to be somewhat hypocritical in nature. At the end of the day, if you look at the American media, they’ll show you pictures of mansions, sports cars and therefore: success. They try to hide the hardship which is unfortunately too present. Ultimately, you can fail, but it’s a lot better if you do it in a Lamborghini.
It’s precisely this paradox that I would like to move away from, as it concerns me. Having coached several companies through my work for various associations, I was able to approach the working reality. A reality that can sometimes be very tough. Some people have put their money and savings into a venture, while having a family to feed, and then their business fails and they find themselves in debt. The icing on the cake is that they’ve now lost some of their credibility. Often, when you start a business, you may not have the support of your family.
But the big difference is financial: not everyone will be lucky enough to have a nicely padded bank account, so they can afford multiple failures. Most of the “pro-failure” people, at least in Switzerland, are in this situation. The context, which is essentially based on financing, therefore plays a crucial role.
Whether you’re rich or not, failure is still failure. It’s success that should be championed, because nobody prefers failure to success. Failure is bad, you have to accept it. However, the important thing is to know how to bounce back and learn from your mistakes. Unfortunately, for most people, they have “one shot” to get it right. Without adequate financing, most entrepreneurs abandon their venture after the first failure, because they simply have no choice.
So stop advocating failure as if it is the same as success. The definition of failure is: to not succeed, to not achieve something.
Whether it’s academic, professional or personal, it’s the success that counts. In my opinion, convincing oneself that failure is compulsory is taking a step towards non-success. It means that you’re confining yourself to this reassuring thought and then you make it a normality. Whatever happens, the aim of the game is to win.
What’s essential is to have your own definition of success: for some it’s to buy a luxury car and for others, like me, it is to be able to spend time in a far and secluded place without anyone coming to disturb me. Above all, it’s important to understand our personal expectations and not just copy other people’s definitions. Set clear and achievable goals for yourself. You will realise that success is not so difficult to achieve, especially when it’s tailored to your own expectations.
Because, at the end of the day, you have to live your entrepreneurial experience as something personal. Stop looking at your neighbour, because most of the time, he only shows the tip of the iceberg. Focus on your personal success and always keep it in mind.
Starting and running your own business is not an easy process, so don’t put obstacles in your own way by assuming your failure will be an acceptable outcome. Instead, visualise your success.
Vice-president at Audacia Group
François Bonvin’s career has always been rich in experiences: as an entrepreneur developing the core software for Base7booking, as a mentor at the GENILEM Association and as Director of both Stickerkid and Stickeryeti brands. Thanks to his many achievements, coupled with his excellent interpersonal skills, he is now vice-president of Audacia Group.