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Why Failure Is One Of The Keys To Long Term Success

Reading Time: 4 minutes

To the uninitiated, the business world is often portrayed as a cut-throat and ruthless place where the weak perish and in order to achieve any sort of success you must be making money pretty much from day one and any sort of failure will wipe out the company and you along with it.

If this were true there would be no such thing as a startup, as those with less resources than would get devoured by their larger competitors.

No matter how big the company is, mistakes are inevitable.

Making the wrong decision about the timing of a product launch or the tagline for a marketing campaign has happened before and will happen again.

The difference between the top businesses and those who struggle to make an impact in their industry is that those who learn from their mistakes and do it quickly will always see a faster progression.

Stop Looking At The End Result

When you look at the biggest companies in the world, it is sometimes easy to forget that you are not looking at the same product/service that the company started out with or even one that they had last year.

The company itself has had to meander its way through the market place over a number of years, testing and trying out new ideas to see if they gain traction with their consumers or are flat out rejected.

You may be forgiven for thinking that only the new ideas that have a positive reception are what companies care about … but you would be wrong.

The ideas that failed can give an incredible amount of information about a business’s customers and their key demographics. This information is invaluable and can shape any future decisions as the company gains a clearer insight of their customer’s likes and dislikes.

Apple Learns From Their Mistakes

In 2017, Apple hit the headlines when they confirmed that they were “throttling” older iPhone devices’ CPUs via iOS updates in order to prolong and manage the device’s performance.

Even though Apple saw this as a prudent measure in order for older devices to cope with the demands of new media forms, when the news broke their customers were furious.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook didn’t just offer a quick discount for customers and hope for the mini crisis to blow over. He addressed the criticisms head on and learnt from this costly lesson.

The All Too Familiar IPhone Low Battery Screen

Within months Apple offered battery replacements for existing products and changed all future products giving users the ability to monitor their device’s battery thoroughly and even disable throttling.

In listening to their consumer base and addressing their mistake the company’s product evolved into something further tailored for their demographic which they wouldn’t have had it not been for their failure.

To fail is a natural part of life and business and can often be the quickest route to making progress in your business.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel prize in 2002 for his work in behavioural economics. He was concerned with the human condition and its ability to overestimate negative consequences of an action and underestimate the positive possibilities.

Kahneman explained this to be a survival instinct that human beings have hard-wired into them as a consequence of the evolutionary process.

Now you can start to see why few people make it in the business world.

It is not because they are less capable or have bad ideas…it is how they deal with and approach failure.

Michael Jordan On Failure

If failure is essential to the growth of a company and human beings have an instinctive mechanism to avoid anything at all costs where you have an increased likelihood to fail then it is those who can best manage against their natural inclinations who become successful.

Entrepreneurs Who Kept “Failing”

  • Founder of The Hershey Company, Milton Hershey, founded three confectionary businesses all of which failed. His final attempt, The Lancaster Caramel Company, eventually gave birth to The Hershey Company and the demand for milk chocolate.
  • Colonel Saunders was famously rejected 1,000 times with his secret recipe friend chicken before successfully franchising the product across America.
  • Frustrated with the lack of suction from his Hoover, James Dyson (below) tested over 5,000 prototypes before going on to invent the cyclone based vacuum cleaner that is used all over the world.
  • UK billionaire Richard Branson tried to muscle in on Coca-Cola’s market by launching Virgin Cola. The brand failed but Branson’s Virgin Group subsequently ventured into new markets and focussed on the industries that the company could satisfy its customers and have done so with great success.
James Dyson In The Early Days With One Of His First Models


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