4 Reasons Entrepreneurs Can't Be Afraid of Making Mistakes

You will make mistakes.

4 Reasons Entrepreneurs Can't Be Afraid of Making Mistakes

Most people don't enjoy making mistakes, but some people can be downright terrified of it. The truth is, that while mistakes are something that everyone needs to learn to be comfortable with, entrepreneurs need to learn to actually relish them. In fact, there may be no more critical component to building a successful business than making mistakes. Why? Because the only way to truly be successful in any business is to do or offer something new, someone that no one else is currently doing or offering. That also means you need to come up with a new formula for doing business and that is something that only happens through trial and error. Here are four reasons why making mistakes is critical for successful entrepreneurs.

1. Without mistakes, there would be no lightbulb.

It allegedly took Thomas Edison 1,000 tries—or 999 mistakes—to come up with a working lightbulb. When questioned about it, he ostensibly replied he didn't make 999 mistakes, he merely discovered 999 ways that didn't work. No matter what kind of product or service you offer, there is going to be a right way for you that is different from anyone else's. In order to find it, you're going to have to get it wrong many times before you get it right. If you ever do want to get it right, however, you're going to have to be ready to get it wrong a lot.

2. Without mistakes, Michael Jordan would not be Michael Jordan.

While most people love to focus on Michael Jordan's six championship victories, what they may not be so eager to focus on, however, are the 9,000 shots he has missed, the 300 games he has lost, or the 26 times he missed a game-winning shot. While you may not aspire to be a basketball great like Jordan, you can't succeed in any endeavor by being afraid of failure.

3. Without mistakes, Apple would not be Apple.

Much has been made of Steve Jobs' somewhat "overbearing managerial style" (to put it politely.) But the skills and traits necessary to build a company are very different from those necessary to manage it and many entrepreneurs can't make the transition. Including, it seemed for a time, Steve Jobs. Jobs was infamously fired from the very company he built, only to return later to lead it to long-lasting greatness. Some entrepreneurs, however, would never get over the public humiliation of being fired, let alone swallow their pride enough to go back. Jobs did, however, and the computing world will forever be grateful.

4. One of the best selling products of all time was first a double failure.

In the 1960's, a chemist working for 3M was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive for use in the aerospace industry. What he ended up with instead was an incredibly weak agent called Acrylate Copolymer Microspheres that was shelved as a failure. It wasn't until nearly a decade later that another employee was given some samples to play with that he came up with a product called "press and peel." 3M did a limited test market of the product, which was a complete flop. Thankfully, two men believed in the product enough to give it another go the next year with better marketing. By using a market research platform, the new product was released as "Post-it Notes" and the rest is history.

If there is any one thing that an entrepreneur needs to do, it is to overcome their fear of failure. The world is full of platitudes such as "no guts, no glory" that drives home the idea that high reward does not come without high risk. There is simply no way to achieve success in any endeavor without falling on your face a thousand times over. As Winston Churchill famously said, "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm."

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Kevin Gardner
See all posts by Kevin Gardner