A lot of people look at successful entrepreneurs and think that they must have something rare or special to achieve what they have. I’m here to tell you that’s not true. The real secret to being a successful entrepreneur? Failure.
Stay with me. I’m going to tell you a story about something that happened to me recently. A few weeks ago, I was in Italy on vacation. I was in Florence with some friends, and I saw a railing. I used to do parkour in high school, so I decided to do a handstand on this railing that had a 30 ft. drop on the other side. I tipped over and fell off, 30 ft. I messed up my ankle and my knee … bad.
It was a bad idea.
After I fell, thanks to a mix of adrenaline and shock I was able to run back up the hill. Both my knee and my ankle had been twisted horribly and I still ran back up the hill. When I got to the top, I sat down and blacked out. When I came to, everyone was asking me, “Are you okay?!” But I had a smile on my face, and I said, “Yeah, I’m fine.”
So now I’m on crutches and I’m healing up, and I’ve been thinking about how my response to the injury is the same thing that’s allowed me to become a millionaire. The reason I’ve been able to create three million-dollar companies is that I respond to failure in my business the same way I responded to this giant fall.
I smiled at this situation because I knew that there would be good things that would come out of it. For one, I’m on crutches now, so my arms are going to get strong. Since I’ll be doing rehab on my knee, I have an opportunity to build an even stronger and better body than I had before. And, since I’m not as mobile, I’m going to have more time to sit down and build more businesses.
Sometimes in life, you make bad decisions, and bad stuff happens as a result. Your life feels like it’s shattered, your business goes to crap, and you’re struggling to figure out what to do next. You just have to tell yourself, “I’m going to smile through this, push hard to make this situation the best I can, and make it through.”
It’s Not Failure; It’s Feedback
It’s the same in business. Every single successful businessperson has failed. More than that, it’s because of those failures that those people are successful now. They learned something from their failure. You have to tell yourself, “you know what? It’s okay.” Use the experience as fuel to build your next attempt. Maybe that next attempt will fail too, but right now, you’re going to go full force towards your goal.
When I started out as an entrepreneur, I didn’t succeed. I started by failing. In fact, I failed six times. I blew through $12,000; I had no home, no savings, and on top of it all, my fiancé was pregnant. I went through moments of feeling so empty inside. I felt like I wasn’t taking care of my family. I asked myself more than once, “why am I doing this when I keep failing?” Everything felt so pointless.
What got me through was realizing that I have the determination to make it happen. No matter what. No matter how many times I failed. Some of the things truly successful people have in common are persistence, determination, and failure. You might only know about their successes because they’re much better at celebrating those, but trust me they’ve failed too.
All Successful People Fail
Failure helps you learn. You can use failure as fuel to try again. Take all the negative things that have happened and think about what lessons you can take away from the experience that will help you come back stronger. Stack on this knowledge until you have so many lessons, success is inevitable.
In my situation, I was down to my last $400. I had six failed businesses under my belt, and I was feeling as low as I could get. I didn’t know if I would spend that $400 on groceries or one more try. I decided to try again. This time, it happened! The sales started increasing, and within the first two months, I made over $100,000.
I’m here to tell you that you can take these things that you’re going through in life and use them to propel you forward. Don’t look at these setbacks as failures or wastes of your time, your money, whatever. Use them as your fuel and have the determination to keep going. Smile at it.
What Can You Learn?
Two months ago, one of my businesses was doing $7,000 a day. All of a sudden, it dropped to $700 a day. $700 a day might sound like a lot, but that’s a huge drop. Your expenses don’t care about any of that, and I was losing money. I was stressed about it; we were moving houses at the same time – it was a mess. But I told myself, “You know what? I’m going to get through this.”
I worked 16 hour days for 20 days straight, and by the end, my business was more profitable than it had ever been. Sometimes, that’s what it takes. The most important thing, though, is that you have the tenacity and the ambition to keep going, to start again, or to do whatever it takes to work through it. Look for the lessons and keep moving forward with a positive, happy spirit.
Oh, and don’t jump off 30 ft. cliffs. It’s a bad idea.
Photo: Getty Images