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Here’s What the Best Entrepreneurs Understand About Failure

June 12, 2017, 3:36 PM UTC
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The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What should budding entrepreneurs know about building a business?” is written by Stav Vaisman, co-founder and CEO of OurPlan.

Fledgling entrepreneurs must understand the stark facts about startup life. First, there are easier and faster ways to earn a good living than starting a business. Second, the risk of failure is extraordinary. Third, passion for the hustle necessary to achieve success is much more important than the desire for financial payoff. Armed with these facts, budding entrepreneurs can decide whether the startup life matches their personality, life goals, and talents.

In one of my early roles as a startup founder, I quickly learned the first lesson that there were better ways to earn a living than starting a business. I remember watching with envy as my friends from college landed healthy six-figure jobs at law firms, investment banks, and multinational corporations. Over late-night drinks, they bragged about the wealth of benefits that supplemented their impressive salaries: 401(k)s, bonuses, and paid vacation. My jealousy quickly faded, however, when I began to hear their complaints about corporate bureaucracy, office politics, the frustration that comes with working for someone else, and boredom.

I realized that my decision to start a business rather than join one reflected my distinct personality type. I was tolerant of uncertainty and risk. Indeed, my motivation came from the thrill of treading into the wild frontier rather than settling down on the homestead. I was willing to forego the certainty of income for the prospects of a new venture. Before you decide whether the startup life is right for you, make sure your motivation is not purely financial. Otherwise, you’re more likely to bolt during those inevitable lean times.

See also: Here’s Where Most Startups Fail

Nearly everyone I know in the startup world has failed as much as or even more than they have succeeded. But they all possessed the same confidence and surety about monetizing their plan, and they all probably had a great idea and an exceptional skill set that attracted investors and lenders. And yet, they failed.

The good thing about failure is that it provides the instrumental lessons you will need to succeed the next time. In all of my ventures, the threat of failure often riddled me with self-doubt. But instead of letting myself become overwhelmed, I worked harder. I became more analytical to determine how my failures could inform my future decisions. Every failure represented a learning opportunity. Even when these failures are existential—i.e., the loss of the business—the best entrepreneurs never waver. They consider one advantage of failure—how to make better decisions next time. If the idea of failure brings out the analyst in you, rather than a pervading sense of dread, the startup life might just be for you.


Most importantly, you have to love the hustle. I don’t mean the hustle of persuading others to deliver capital. I mean the hustle that comes when you apply that unique combination of patience and diligence to the everyday activities required to make your business thrive. You must be motivated intrinsically as you engage in the strategy, tactics, and minutiae that will dominate your daily calendar. Most of my days at OurPlan are spent wavering between high-level strategy and mundane administrative tasks. But I love every minute of it.