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When Failure Happens: Strategies for Entrepreneurs


It’s not uncommon for people to have several startup failures before hitting on one that succeeds. Alternately, your first startup may be successful, but you might face some challenges and failures along the way. It’s important to destigmatize failure. It’s not the end of something or even necessarily a referendum on your work.

The road to success means striving, and the more you try, the more likely it is that you won’t succeed at every single thing that you do. One of your first steps in overcoming failure is to understand this and to avoid attaching too much meaning to it. The other tips below can also give you a healthy framework for viewing failure as a normal part of any endeavor and can help you move ahead.

Lay the Right Groundwork

Accepting that failure is a part of success doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take steps to avoid it when possible, and one way of reducing its likelihood is by making sure you are as prepared as you can be. For example, although you don’t have to have a degree to be an entrepreneur, it can open a lot of doors for you and give you something to fall back on in the lean times. If cost is a worry, keep in mind that there are a number of avenues to help you pay for college.

For example, even if you do not qualify for enough in federal aid, private loans are an option. You can use a student loan calculator to determine what your repayments will be like. In addition, you should also get a good sense of what you will need to complete school so that you know how much money to borrow and you won’t have to worry about finances while working on your degree. You might want to identify other potential failure points as well, such as figuring out how to manage your time so that you’ll have time for study and classes.

Acknowledge and Separate

You may have one of two instincts when things do go wrong. You might be the kind of person who does not want to think about the issue at all, or you may be the kind of person who dwells on it. You might even be both of these people at different times. However, neither of these is the right response. First, you should acknowledge what happened. Second, you should separate yourself from what happened. While you may have made mistakes that could have been avoided, the failure is not about your worth as a person. This helps you move on to the next, vital step.


Although it might not feel like it at the time, failure presents a huge learning opportunity. Once you have given yourself some time to deal with the emotional side of things, it’s time to analyze what exactly went wrong and identify ways to avoid making a similar mistake in the future. This step can also help you continue to separate your personal feelings about the failure and become more objective about it and the part you may have played in it. No one is happy when setbacks occur, but taking these steps can help you turn them into something useful.

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