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Five Tips to Make the Most of Failures (Posted by Jake Stainer)

Tue, 05 August 2014

When daring to plunge into the world of business, it's understandable to be a little nervous about failing.
When daring to plunge into the world of business, it's understandable to be a little nervous about failing. It's a common fear, one that any professional in any sphere has had at some point in their life. 
In fact, you could say that businesses fail 65% of the time when trying something new – it’s all about finding what works.  
 
For example at my company, Papora, we are continually A/B testing pages on our website and advertising campaigns to see what works best and makes the most profit. Most of the time we fail – we may make a loss and not hit our targets – but without failure, there is rarely success. 
 
As another example, consider Virgin founder Richard Branson – a multi-millionaire, but he still fell into pitfalls with some of his business endeavours, such as Virgin Cola. (You don't remember it? Exactly.) But heed his words: ‘Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again’. These are great words to remember when putting together your first start-up!
 
Therefore in some ways, failure can actually be a good thing, and make you a better entrepreneur. You don't get through life without taking a few wounds along the way. Here's another good quote from Harry Potter creator, (a previous mother on benefits-turned-multibillionaire, remember) JK Rowling on failure: ‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.’ 
 
So, if you’ve got an absolutely fabulous idea or are already well on your way with your business venture, here are five tips to make the most of the failures you experience along the way: 
 
Don't use failure as an excuse to get jealous of others
You know the expression, ‘Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer’? The same applies for work. Networking is deeply important, and instead of being jealous of those that have succeeded at doing something you wanted to do, make contacts with them instead and learn something from them. Just think, you may go to a party and bump into someone, get chatting, and maybe they'll put you in touch with someone who wishes to make an investment, or get you a critical new lead.
Or at the very least, they might buy you a drink! Networking is one of the most important parts of being successful in business. After all it’s not what you know, but who you know!
 
Don't see failure as a bad thing 
Failure doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Most successful people had to climb a whole ladder of failures before getting where they wanted to be. Winston Churchill was 62 when he became prime minister, after 10 years of work in politics. It doesn't matter how long you've been out of action - this does not mean you are bad at what you do, it just means that perhaps you’ve yet to find the best way to do what you do. 
 
Don't take criticism to heart
Just because other people may have said something to make your confidence plummet doesn't mean it's true. Did you know that Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was 'too stupid to learn anything'? It just goes to show that you must focus on yourself, and the words of others really can be just white noise. 
 
Moreover, those criticising your business may not even be your target market, so make sure you’re reaching out to your market and asking for their honest opinion. Creating a successful business is all about satisfying your customers’ needs. Try linking a Facebook advertisement campaign to a Google Docs Form to gather indispensable information on your future clients, their wants, needs and desires, by segmenting your audience through age, gender, interests, country, etc.
 
Follow the idiom that ‘everything happens for a reason’
Just because you experience a crushing moment in your career doesn’t mean that the future is equally as terrible. Turn losing a job into a productive thing. Stephen Spielberg was rejected from cinema school multiple times, so ended up taking on an internship at Universal Studios. Years later, Spielberg would be given an honorary degree from the very place that rejected him. See your failures as mere forks in the road, and simply take another direction.
 
Talking about direction, do not be afraid to try new things. Don’t let failure stop you. It can take some businesses two years to become profitable. Keep trying different things such as places to advertise, pricing, branding, product benefits, etc. and find out what works best for you. 
 
See failure as a fresh start 
Begin again, whether it be a new start-up or a new job. Use this as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. And remember: success can start with failure.
 

About Jake Stainer (Founder and Managing Director of Papora)

Jake Stainer is the founder and managing director of Papora – the new way to learn a foreign language. Papora combines cutting-edge online and mobile language learning software with a thriving, global community of avid language learners. The service offers courses in English and Spanish and features a video-audio chat system, lessons that are based on real life situations, social immersion, culture and grammar, and links online language-learning with native speakers.
 
You can follow him on Twitter @PaporaOfficial
 

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