Why Failure in Business is NOT a Good Option
I’m disturbed by this. Oodles and gobs of people are writing in business columns and blogs that “Failure is okay.” If you have ventured into the world of entrepreneurship recently, you have noticed this trend. I’m disturbed because I equate this comment with “everyone is a winner” when in reality, everyone is not. Small business is tough and a lot of people fail at it. And that is NOT okay with me. Yes, I get the point many of you readers have at this moment… That the failure aspect is intended to illustrate the lesson therein that when someone makes a mistake that they ultimately learn from it. I get that loud and clear, but consider my viewpoint.
As a business advisor, my job is to assist people in organizing their business for success. You’ve probably heard of the common analogy that “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.” I can assure you that from my numerous years of assisting hundreds of entrepreneurs that those who do not develop a thorough strategy are more likely to falter than those who do create business plans. Part of this debate may be limited by how one defines failure. Failure is a strong word compared to “mistake” or “misstep” or “falling short.” Webster’s definition of failure (2b) is “a failing in business: bankruptcy.” If we tell budding entrepreneurs that it is okay to fail, are we really encouraging them to do the right thing? Yes, we all screw up in things. Business men and women included. But frankly, most of the errors that often lead to failure would be avoided with good planning. We tell our children to not touch a hot stove, so why don’t we tell entrepreneurs to plan carefully before they open or make a major move?
“Success is not free. Neither is failure” said Ray Kroc, the man credited for building the McDonald’s hamburger chain empire. I like Ray’s focus. True failure is expensive. It’s not healthy for our community to have failing businesses. It may be a financial disaster for the owners and often the results will drag down other people, businesses and institutions too. Customers lose a resource, the chamber loses a member, the little league loses a sponsor, employees lose jobs, suppliers lose accounts, building owners lose tenants, governments lose tax revenue and banks lose deposits (at the very least with bankruptcy at the worst). So let’s not encourage failure in business. Let’s not endorse that option. Instead, let’s make certain that small businesses do not open until they are prepared as much as they can be so that they may only stumble and not fall hard when they encounter an obstacle.