Failing Forward and Succesful Mistakes

Being an entrepreneur is NOT for thin-skinned folk. You need to be driven to win, but accepting of defeat along the way.

Some of the things I took home from my Oscar run, that I also realize are just as important in my business:

1. Never underestimate the challenge (and the competition). I thought that I would do ok this year without having to compete with a multi-billion dollar airline. I didn’t realize that this retail company was so damned aggressive in their pursuit of votes. They had 25 people with them at the awards ceremony … a sign of how serious they took it.

Looking forward, I know just what I would have to do if nominated next year … bust my ass getting votes! I see now where I went wrong … and would do my best to make sure it never happens again.

I have not failed.
I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
-Thomas Edison

2. Are you missing an accountability partner? I was. I should have had my assistant managing my campaign for votes. She could be making sure I had promotions going out, links being posted, videos being distributed, and so on.

Do you work alone? Maybe it’s time you find a solid assistant that can help you stay organized and get more things done. Hint: I found my exceptional project manager through

I don’t know the key to success,
but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
– Bill Cosby

3. Do you have a workable plan of attack in place? I didn’t. I winged it. Which I should have known better. This should’ve been treated like any marketing plan that had a chance at success.

The only way you can expect to succeed in your marketing is to have a day-by-day, week-by-week plan for what you will do, and how you will track the results of.

Basic? Yes.
Actually done? No.
As simple as this technique is, I would be willing to bet that seven out of ten entrepreneurs have zero actual marketing plan in place.
Do you?

You always pass failure on your way to success.
– Mickey Rooney

4. Celebrate both your failures and successes. Being an entrepreneur can be an isolated, lonely existence. If you let it. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a loner much of the time and do my own thing day in and day out. I have people I work with – but they aren’t in my office, nor even in my city. When it is time to celebrate – I find people to have some fun and laughs with.

It can be as simple as a night out for dinner and dancing (well, you don’t want to see me dance, not a pretty site).
It can be a movie with my twin nine-year-old daughters (Avatar rocked!).
It can be a night out for a few cold ones with some friends.
They key is to make sure you have people who understand the life of an entrepreneur you can celebrate with. Then plan to celebrate … for good reasons or bad.

There is no failure.
Only feedback.
– Robert Allen

5. No finger pointing allowed. That’s too easy. It always easy to find situations, people or places you can put the blame on. But that doesn’t help you out at all moving forward.

Take ownership of your actions and never lay blame when you could have learned a lesson.

Success in marketing and entrepreneurship IS about trying things, finding out what does and doesn’t work, then taking those lessons to the next phase of your business growth.

There is no failure except in no longer trying.
– Elbert Hubbard

You truly need to believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your dreams.
And you also need to understand and be prepared for many setbacks and failures along the way.
Just because an advertisement bombs, doesn’t mean advertising doesn’t work (like a lady I was talking to this week told me).
It means that the approach that was used didn’t work … and you are one step closer to finding an approach that WILL work.

Reward excellent failure. Punish mediocre success
-Tom Peters

One of your greatest assets you will have as an entrepreneur is the number of “tests” you did that didn’t work. The greater that number is, the closer you are to getting your next big winner.

Never forget that.

And get thicker skin along the way!

Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
– Henry Ford

I realize this was more of a motivational post than the usual, but I think it holds the key to understanding why some entrepreneurs succeed wildly … and others fizzle out and disappear.

Those who are willing to tough it out and fail forward faster, are the ones that ultimately always find the big winners along the way.

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