It was 2008 and I was stoked. I just finished one of Donald Trump’s online courses on real estate investing and spent months reading every book I could get my hands on. With the help of my father, I dove head first into the business and bought six units in the first year. I renovated them, doing much of the work myself, and it was time to turn a profit. One small problem. The profit never came. I realize now that I forgot one important life principle: When you try something new, failure is inevitable.
Maybe you won’t crash and burn, but you will fail on some level. It’s not “failure” that kills you. Quitting does. So I want to look at four ways that you can succeed by planning to fail.
1. You Plan for the Worst Case
Many businesses fail every year for the same reason that my real estate business did. I thought I was going to succeed… and I didn’t. I thought about the failure scenarios, but I didn’t really think it was going to happen. If I would have planned to fail from the start, I would have raised more capital, thought more about the failure scenarios, planned for what I would do when I failed, etc. Any of those contingencies had the potential to turn my business around, but I didn’t do any of them well enough.
2. You Can Take More Risks
If I plan to fail before I start, I don’t have to be afraid to jump in and take risks. I’m not suggesting that you take risks for the sake of taking risks. Every risk that you take should be justified and calculated. Remember, success is the goal, but failure is the expectation. In business you will never know all of the answers so you will have to take risks at some point. The sooner you get comfortable failing, the better off you will be. What better way to get comfortable than to add it to your plan?
3. You Can Learn the Game Faster
When you’re not afraid to take risks, you will also learn the game faster. Learning the game is a major contributor to success whether you’re talking about pumping gas, pitching for the Yankees, or creating the next Angry Birds. The better you know your game, the more likely you are to have success. When you plan to fail, you take risks and learn the game much faster than those that don’t. This benefit is especially important in fast-moving industries like mobile app development.
4. You Don’t Lose Hope When You Fail
Losing hope is the only thing that can truly kill your business. If you lose money, you can get more. If employees leave, you can find others. If you lose hope, you will no longer have the drive to continue and you will fail. If you have hope when everything is going wrong, you have a chance to come back and be better than you were before. When you plan to fail, that failure will not destroy you because you expected it from day 1. On the other hand, when you plan only to succeed, failure can suck the hope out of you. And that, my friends, is the death blow to every company.
What I Hope You Take Away
I hope that you fail. And I also hope that was part of your plan. When you fail you can simply look back at your plan and check another milestone off your list. Rewrite failure into your plan today. What are you waiting for? Go! Fail away!