This popped up today, one of my 1st Instagram pics years ago “Failure is not an option” from a mug I bought at the Kennedy Space Center.
Failure is the path to innovation
That was a motto I believed in when I started Entegral and naively thought that every product or every feature we build, will be a success. Failure was truly not an option. Luckily we learn through experience: failure is actually an option, and is critical for business success.
Failure is the only way to establish a culture of innovation within a company. It is easy to feel defeated after you’ve spent long nights and weekends working on a cool new product or product feature, only to see it not being adopted by users. I’ve been through many of those! It can easily instigate fear for any new ventures.
But, as soon as you see this as part of a learning curve, and part of life, your attitude will change, and you will learn that this enables you to fine-tune your next endeavor. (Sometimes a bit of fine-tuning is all that is needed to make something work!).
Failure I think, is something that is more difficult to accept if you have investors in your company who expect results for everything you do. One of the reasons I’ve kept Entegral 100% independent: it keeps the innovation cycle going, allows us to take risks, and carve our own way in doing things.
Taking (calculated) risks to overcome fear of failure
Risks we take! In 2011 we were one of the 1st real estate technology service providers to switch to the Amazon AWS cloud. That was one of our biggest risks we took so far (together with going remotely in 2015). I remember receiving negative response from competitors after we’ve switched to the cloud, and clients being told that “their data is not safe” and that “the cloud was a fad”. I had a lot of convincing to do and everything went well…until a lightning struck in 2011 that took out one of the AWS data centers.. We weren’t fully prepared for such a catastrophic failure. After sleepless nights we recovered, and from this experience, we’ve built our own AWS cloud recovery and backup tool that is today, still running non-stop. It has also allowed us to take a more pro-active approach in monitoring our systems and we follow a transparent approach about any downtime.
When Entegral attended the 1st AWS Cloud conference in 2012 in Las Vegas, Werner Vogels (CTO AWS) famously said that “Everything fails all the time”, how true is that, and something you should always keep in the back of your head when running a company: have a plan B (and C!) ready. Spread your risks.
The fear of the definition of a successful business
Today, there is so much Silicon Valley hype on starting a business with funding and thinking you will become the next Unicorn. It has skewed the view of how many young entrepreneurs look at a business. It has skewed the criteria for success or failure.
Success I’ve learned, can be found in starting a business with one client and seeing it grow organically over years. Success can be found in knowing that you don’t rip your customers off, or selling them (or their data out). One can find joy in the small things in growing a business, you don’t need money as proof for success. The proof lies in happy customers and employees and finding happiness in your daily work.
Failure is an option, quitting is not, just don’t loose your head ;)