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Coping with Failure (Posted by Shell LiveWIRE Winner, Akeem Ojuko)

Tue, 08 December 2015

Failure – the word that becomes a bane to many peoples lives – intrinsically to start-up business owners, mainly because of the worry that one day you may feel like a failure or that you will literally be indefinitely told….YOU failed.
Hurts doesn’t it? It’s so easy watching it on television or listening to it on the Radio, but when it happens to you, it’s just crushing. You feel like the most unlucky person in the world.
 
From my perspective, I started my first business when I was 17, with the idea (like everyone has) that ‘this’ business was going to reach the heights that you’d hope, that ‘this’ business was going to make a massive change in your lives and others.
 
But you only have to look at the statistics to know that 97% of businesses effectively fail in the first year to know that you have a steep test. But what does failure actually mean?
 
I suppose it is different for everyone. For myself, failure was stepping out of Dragons Den in 2014 with no investment – something I set out and was so aggressive to secure, so that when it doesn’t happen it feels like the world is tumbling down on you. Still to this day, over a year on, people still say ‘well done for Dragons Den, what an achievement!’, and I frown – for me it was a massive failure. But I suppose that is the whole point – failure is relative, and so closely linked to the perceived values of the entrepreneur. After weeks of being upset, it took me three minutes one morning, after getting investment from one of the largest food groups in the UK, to realise that I didn’t fail – that actually it was a blessing in disguise because I became ten times the entrepreneur from that battle in the Den.  From there I went from a perilous situation to having my product in over 400 stores across Europe, selling over 300,000 jars within 12 months. 
 
There is a simple approach that I take to life, which has helped me cope with failure through the hardest times in business. Below I have outlined some things that have motivated me to work through every up and down you can think of in a start-up.
 
1.It’s happened – get over it
Sounds harsh, and it is cliché, but you can’t change the past, however much you want to. This goes for any area of your life – the easiest thing is to accept it’s happened and move on. To help me do this (as odd as it sounds), I simply use my notes and write down what my failure was – and then I strikethrough it. Oddly enough it helps me cross it off internally too. 
 
2. Set small goals
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and to get over failure, the easiest way is to set small, winnable goals. By easy win goals, I mean goals you can definitely hit, and cross off. Purposely write these goals down and strike them off, daily or weekly. It’ll quickly turn your ‘failure’ into a very positive situation.
 
3. Glass half full, Glass half empty
Everything (and I mean literally everything) can be seen in two ways. In many countries failure is literally seen as a complete positive, so much so that entrepreneurs openly admit to failing – why should we be any different? Be proud of every boom and trough your business experiences, it all happened for a reason and will make you stronger. Even the most successful businesses have massive downturns and troughs; they just decide to see it differently. 
 
4. Look at examples
Do not take my word for it, research, read and listen to some of the greatest entrepreneurs to have ever lived to hear theirs ups and downs, to hear the amount of times they were literally penniless, to hear how they couldn’t sleep when they thought their business wouldn’t survive. 
 
5. Surround yourselves with the right people
Misery loves company. Follow a power of six rule. Write down (now ideally), the six people you spend the most time with in your life, then put a column for their salary, their emotional status (from your perspective), habits, etc. Look at all six on paper and then average out the data – that is where your mindset would currently be. If your five closest friends/people near you are lazy and negative, you’ll naturally be the same – or at least you’d think it OK to be lazy. Imagine if your five closest friends were very successful. Manufacture it – read about someone who inspires you. Read about them so much you know as much about them as you would your own friend.  That person is now one of your closest five friends. Get the point?
 
Remember, when it is all said and done, you’d rather be the person who has tried, tried and tried again, than the person with a bucket full of regrets of things they’ve never done. Be proud of your bravery. 
 
Seize the day, when you look back on life year on year you’ll realize that you have an opportunity to win, right now. 
 
About Akeem Ojuko (Founder of The Wild Peanut)
Akeem is the founder of The Wild Peanut, a business which offers premium gourmet peanut butter with a unique edge in the choice of flavours and the policy of using no artificial ingredients, and only superfoods, fruits and of course peanuts. They have created a unique blend of ingredients with one of the world's favourite spreads. Flavours include Apple and Cinnamon, Raspberry, Chilli, Honey and Blueberries, all mixed with healthy peanut butter. The company plans to support the World Wildlife Fund and improve conservation, influence policy and prevent species from extinction by holding free events throughout the year where people can learn more about the planet in a fun and refreshing way. 
 
You can follow him on Twitter @wild_peanut
 

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