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Failing upward? How to master the art of non-success

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

25957831 - concept of failure of a businessman due to crisis

Most new ventures (even really smart ones!) have the odds stacked against them from the start. That’s not to discourage you, it’s just a fact. To the uninitiated, failure sounds bad — an unpleasant melody with overtones of defeat.

But what you need to know right now is that failure isn’t the end. It’s almost cliche in startup circles to talk about the virtues of failure, but if the sentiment sounds familiar it’s because it rings true for so many of us, including some of the greats. The truth of it is that failure can be an incredible teacher, even better in some cases than a resounding success. The Wright brothers didn’t succeed on their first try on the sands of Kitty Hawk, yet umpteenth crashes later, we now know the enterprising duo as the fathers of the airplane.

That’s not to say failure is an unmitigated good. The executives of tech giant Google respect failure but clearly define what separates the “good” failures from the bad ones. Their benchmark for failing properly requires the failee to hit two big points — if you’re going to fail, you need to do it fast, without causing yourself unnecessary financial or reputational harm, and you need to learn from the process.

The Google approach is a good one because it emphasizes the need to always be learning. As humans, we’re constantly building knowledge of the world around us through a trial-and-error process, experimenting with our surroundings until we find something that works. It’s important to keep that in mind because it reinforces the idea that failure is a natural part of life that we need to embrace in a healthy way. In fact, if you go through your life never failing at all, it’s probably because you’re not pushing yourself to be the best you can be.

At Prepare 4 VC, we can help you fail the right way and to better things. We even have our own story of failure that taught us vital lessons that help us better understand the startup process. Want to hear more about it of have your own tale of failure? We want to talk! Contact us to take the next step toward ringing in that well-deserved success.

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