The global startup scene has a small issue that perpetuates popular media and all our thoughts: success is overnight and everyone gets it right the first shot. We put entrepreneurs on a pedestal for their achievement today and they rightly deserve it – we just need to highlight their story.
Importantly, we need to highlight their failures – failure is integral to everyone’s learning process. It’s seen as such a negative and this needs to change. The easiest way to understand how to embrace failure is to apply a framework to it.
At Appster, we focus on helping our founders “fail often, fail fast and fail cheaply” because it’s the best way to experiment and learn.
Let me explain the methodology with some examples.
Trying lots of methods to achieve a goal works wonders. Startups are one big experiment until you’ve reach your product/market fit. Failing often means trying many small tests in the short amount of time your startup has. Your emphasis should be on testing as many different methods as you can in your short time.
For example you need a new marketing plan but don’t know which channel to pick from. Try and remove any bias you have towards given marketing channels; you may unlock interesting ones you never thought could work.
Knowing when to stop is really important and the best way to do it is to set a goal. Set it before you start your test and set a financial or time-based goal. That way you have a clear line in the stand to measure failure or success against.
With each marketing channel your goal is usually to see if it yields new customers. Set your goal at $10 total spend – reach the number and assess the results. Success or failure, you’ve learned something and managed the process.
This is probably the most important – a startup at its core has a short amounts of cash and time. Try and measure the amount of cash and time you’re spending on each experiment. Spend as little as you can without impacting the viability of your experiment.
For example try spending as little as possible on all the marketing channels you test – once you understand which failed and which ones succeeded then you can invest in the successes.
With this methodology in mind embrace your failure and use them as sources of learning. I tell my clients to “embrace failure just as you embrace success”. Spend equal amounts of time reflecting on your failures just as you would your wins.