The Fallacy of Failure



The Fallacy of Failure
There was a time that when a business failed, fingers were pointed at the business owner’s inability to manage the business in a competent manner: handling cash flow, securing adequate funding, hiring the right people, creating effective marketing components and not overspending.

Every small business in today’s economic crisis must focus on cash flow, cost containment, customer retention and survival.  A positive side bar about the struggles businesses are facing is that as they improve productivity and increase customer value small businesses will become more innovative by refining their processes and business models.

And if they don’t or can’t because they have the wrong product or the marketplace is so bad they can’t retain their share, does that mean they were not up to the task?  Certainly it was for some who have failed — failed to react to a falling market, failed to cut back, failed to take extreme measures to save their business.

But in today’s economic climate it’s much harder to place blame.  The erroneous belief that every business that is closing today is due to owner mismanagement has to be wrong. Just look at the construction industry in Central Oregon that has nearly come to a standstill. Are those small companies to blame for how they managed their companies? Did they fail to experiment creatively with their services or aggressively change their business model? Or did the boom just run out and they were out of luck?

Of course there are keen examples of industries that failed to establish a working business model, especially those auto companies that perpetuated poor product quality, high cost structure and were slow to respond to shifting consumer trends.

Surely we must all applaud those businesses that have scaled back today, refocused their companies and are still surviving after this dismal year.  For those businesses that are thriving, despite the economy, even bigger kudos…..their creativity and perseverance has been masterfully displayed.

However, just because a business failed, we can’t say with certainty it was inevitable. Failure is only a tragedy if we don’t learn and eventually cash in on our experiences. We should give great credit for those among us who strived to create something valiant, who came to the table with enthusiasm and left with an experience that surely will serve them well in another venture, at another time.

While traditional employment options are especially limited under this economy many former employees and former small business owners will turn to entrepreneurship and create another business.  In addition, babyboomers who retired have now found themselves with substantially less savings and diminished assets. These savvy entrepreneurs will return to the business world extending their working years.

Michael Jordan said: I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

So what of failure then? The very thing that makes an entrepreneur succeed is the ability to take failures in stride and use their experiences to learn from their mistakes. Think of failure as an opportunity to begin something new, pick up the pieces and jump over the next obstacle. Right? pha


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