Fail forward and fast. You hear that mantra regularly these days but that is not a mantra that most Caribbeanpreneurs want to embrace. First off, your parents most likely wanted you to get a “normal job” like working for the government, in a bank, as a lawyer or doctor. You really can’t afford to fail and give them the privilege of saying ‘I told you so.’ At least that is what most of us believe and have practiced. But it is this resistance to embracing failure that is stopping the growth of businesses run by Caribbeanpreneurs.
Back in 2006 I hosted my first entrepreneurship conference YES on St. Maarten. What a steep learning curve that was. I learned a lot and lost a lot of money in the process. I write about it The Making of Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth.
One of my featured speakers then and a dear friend now, was Gregory Richardson (Visit his YouTube channel here). Back then he shared what he called his “spectacular failures” running various computer ventures he began in his teens. Today, he is a well respected ethical hacker working for an international brand.
As I reflected on the idea of failure as a path to success, I acknowledge that most of what I know now I can credit to the times I failed. The times I spent more than I earned, took on projects too big for me without asking for help and when at super critical moments I crashed and burned because I was not taking care of my health.
Failure is never the end but you must learn how to use it to your advantage. Rather than pretend it did not happen or wasn’t that bad, ask yourself.
What went wrong?
What was my contribution to the failure?
What have I learnt from this experience?
What can I do differently next time?
What do I need to do now to position my venture for future success rather than repeat the failure?
Ego and shame are two of the biggest culprits for our unwillingness to embrace failure and learn from it. Our egos are tender and we hate to think that we did not succeed at the very thing we have been telling our family was going to make us millions. We are ashamed that we are in over our heads and rather than seek out assistance we pretend we don’t need anyone. You do. No one is in business alone even when you are the sole employee.
Caribbeanpreneurs becoming comfortable with failure on their path to business success won’t happen without effort. It will take entrepreneurs willing to step out of their safety zones to take on new challenges. The gift that many do not get to experience is that outside of your safe zone are people ready to support you and want to see you win. As long as you believe you are in this by yourself, you will shy away from asking for help or admitting when what you are doing is no longer working. I have been guilty of trying to resuscitate dead things long after it was feasible to do so. There is so much more growing to do and it does not happen when we keep repeating old mistakes and continue living in fear and pain worrying about other people’s opinions of our choices.
Fail forward and fail fast. See you at the top.
Nerissa Golden writes on entrepreneurship, leveraging technology and media to change lives and communities. Nerissa is a six-time author now fusing business and romance in novels. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.