What failure can teach you.

99c Store Going Out of BusinessImage by RodBegbie via Flickr

At the Technology Association of Iowa’s Pitch and Grow 5 gathering last week, I participated in a panel discussion on failure.  Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that failure is part of being an entrepreneur and part of finding success.  My fellow panelists included Christian Renaud of StartupCityDSM, Daniel Shipton of BitMethod, John Jackovin and Brian Thompson of Equity Dynamics.

Here is what I took away from the session:

  • Failure is a teacher if we recognize it as such.  Choose what you are going to do with what you learn from your failure(s).  That much is your choice.
  • It is challenging to recognize failure before it is terminal.  Make sure you have advisers that you are listening to and who are giving you honest feedback.
  • Failure can be tactical or strategic.  We fail every day.
  • Many first time entrepreneurs will not recognize the failure before it is critical.  It is only through failing hard (like a face plant in skiing) do we tend to learn to see a failure coming and have an opportunity to correct or preempt.
  • You may not be able to avert the failure but you can potentially soften the landing.

For those starting a business you need to plan on failing.  Do everything you can to make sure the failure is not terminal.  For those helping others in business, give honest, direct feedback.

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