Fail: A word used to describe a state or condition that did not meet the desired or intended objective and viewed as opposite to success.

It is this four-letter F word that is a stumbling block for many would be entrepreneurs. The fear of this word stops most people dead in their tracks, but failure isn’t the end; if anything, it is a fundamental part of any business process. Only those who embrace it, experience it and use it truly understand that you cannot have success without failure.

Andy Campbell, our Head of Accelerators, discusses the idea of failure and why at Elevator we encourage the founders on our programmes to ensure it is part of their entrepreneurial journey.

“Failure is what you are branded by people who have never had the bravery to try themselves. It is what people think they see when you never quite achieve what you set out to do. But what people don’t see is the priceless learning that comes with so called ‘failing’.

“The fear of failure itself is a paralysing mindset and it is the one sure way to ensure you will never be successful.

“Being scared to fail will not stop you from failing. The fear of failing will not generate success. Instead it is your desire for success itself plus your drive, ambition and determination to learn from failure and overcome it that will lead to success, no matter how long it takes.

“Success and failure, innovation and failure, progress and failure, development and failure, discovery and failure, learning and failure, they are all two sides of the same coin. You cannot have any of them if you are not prepared to pick up that coin and flip it. If you want success you have to 100% accept that you might fail. And it is only by flipping the coin again and again and again that you might get the positive outcome you desire.

“Importantly, your likelihood of success or failure is not in your DNA – it is in your positive mental attitude (PMA). You need to change your underlying mindset on failure.

“At Elevator, we encourage this ‘mindset change’ on failure. We talk about failing fast, failing often and most importantly failing forward, which is essentially learning and progressing. After all, to F.A.I.L. is simply your First Attempt In Learning.

“We encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and truly challenge their ideas. From the founders on our accelerators programmes to the individuals who walk through our doors for Business Gateway advice. We actively ask individuals to seek out failure and discover the weak points of their plans. When they experience failure they learn from it, understand it, refine their ideas, adjust their thinking and test the business again and again and again - essentially until their business becomes bulletproof.

“You only have to look at some of the world’s most successful creatives and innovators to see that they didn’t reach their entrepreneurial status after just one run at their business idea or getting lucky first time. Successful people have failed much more than they’ve succeeded.

  • Steven Spielberg was rejected three times by The University of Southern California for admission to cinematic arts. He went on to become an award-winning movie director and household name with a net worth of $3billion.
  • Sir James Dyson: the mastermind behind the world’s first bagless vacuum had over 5,000 failed prototypes over a 15-year period before he perfected his final design.
  • Vera Wang: one of the fashion industry’s most successful entrepreneurs valued at over $600 million was once turned down for the role of Vogue’s editor-in-chief as it was believed she wasn’t good enough.

“If you want business success, you must risk failure because it is only through failure that there is learning and growth, which will take you closer to success.

“If you are considering setting up a business and looking for excuses not to, I can assure you it is not the lack of money, people, technology or knowhow holding you back. It is a lack of being brave, it is the fear of failure itself that is stopping you.

“The reality is that only true failure is to never try in the first place. However, rest assured, when you are ready to take those first steps to success, Elevator - and organisations similar - are there ready to support and encourage you every step of the way.”

Back to all blogs