I have written a lot about failure. I am in favor of it.
Not the kind of failure where you bet everything on one roll of the dice and lose. That kind of failure is devastating because you have used up all your resources and you don’t get to try again. No, the kind of failure I am talking about is when you take a small step toward your goal and find it doesn’t work.
That kind of failure is far from fatal, and in fact can be helpful if you learn from it and put that learning to use with the next small step you take. (It’s part of the Act. Learn. Build. Repeat. Model we have talked about throughout.) So, small setbacks = Good. Large scale failures = Bad.
But there is one thing worse than large scale failures–and that is not starting anything new at all. People can be extremely risk adverse and the idea of a venture not working out can scare them to the point where they never get underway. They keep thinking about the idea and/or maybe doing more and more research, and they never pull the trigger. Or they don’t start because their advisors are very conservative and keep pointing out reasons why they should delay and so they wait and think and refine and tweak and refine some more. Or they take too long to test the market, putting off actually beginning to the point where the competition has passed them by all these situations are sad.
As we have said before, if you think you have a good idea, get into the marketplace as quickly as you can, using as little money as possible, and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, you can always regroup.
But if you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Paul B. Brown is co-author of Just Start published by Harvard.