Failure

Loren BurtonDecember 20, 2013

Failure is a funny thing. In startupland, the word is thrown around constantly... fail early, fail often, learn from your failures. Apparently startup culture even glorifies failure.

As far as I can tell, that's bullshit. I almost never hear about failures. Why? Because it's embarrassing, that's why. A stab in the ego. Everybody feels better when it's not a failure: the founders, the investors, everyone.

Of course startups fail all the time, but you just don't hear about it. When startup X fails, it's masked as an acquisition. Or a pivot. Or we still strongly believe in this idea, but the market wasn't as big as we initially thought, so we decided to pursue other opportunities.

If failing is so highly praised, why aren't the TC headlines "Startup X failed. Here's what went wrong." instead of "Startup Y acquires competitor Startup X. Rainbows and kittens." With the latter, we'll never know what went wrong. How do we learn from that? How do we avoid those mistakes?

I know some people who absolutely refuse to recognize their personal failures. They tell themselves, and everyone else, that Project Z just didn't work out, end of story. Or they just say nothing at all. Then they brush it under the rug, quietly close up shop and move along like nothing ever happened. Eventually they make the same mistakes again. And again. It's crazy.

Of course I can't just rant about failure without some personal anecdotes. I'll be the first to admit that I've failed. I think about my failures all the time. Not in a "I suck at life" kind of way, but in a healthy, positive way. It's humbling. I've learned so much from failing. I've failed more than anybody I know. Funny enough, I think I've also succeeded more than most people I know (although still not much). Basically, I've just tried more stuff. Usually I fail, but every once in a while I'll do something that works.

I want to share my failures. Here's an idea: Failure Fridays. Every Friday, I'm going to open up and dissect a personal project that failed. Really dig in and find out what went wrong. I'll do this until I run out of content, but I'm pretty well stocked with failures :)

I'll start next week.

PS: I'll tweet about this weekly, so follow me on twitter (@madebyloren) to keep up with my failures.