Why Failure Makes You a Better Entrepreneur

Here's a not-so-shocking newsflash: nobody wants to fail.

While I don't know them personally, I'm pretty sure that none of the hundreds of American athletes traveled to the Olympics with the "F word" on their minds. There is absolutely nothing emotionally pleasant about failing, because it makes you feel like, well, a failure!

But if you want to be an entrepreneur, you'd better suck it up and get used to it.

Last month, I sat down with Forbes' 30-Under-30 Creator, Randall Lane, to discuss the entrepreneurial honorees for this year (check out our full video interview here on The Unicorn in the Room).

Now, the 30-Under-30 are the cream of the crop millennial entrepreneurs, who are building game-changing companies in twenty different industries. As you peruse the list, you'll find that each of them are very different - but according to Lane, the three traits they all have in common are originality, spirit, and fortitude.

"If you're going to be an entrepreneur, that's what it takes. Because you're going to fail, fail, fail, until you succeed," he explains. "And we're looking for people who can overcome failure even at a young age."

Why Failure is Necessary
The list of successful entrepreneurs and self-made billionaires who overcame adversity on their way to the top is long. Very long, in fact. Oprah's first boss told her that she was "not right for television" and now she's a television icon. And don't forget that Steve Jobs was once fired from his own company!

I could go on, but you get the point. Overcoming adversity makes us stronger. Lane believes that one of the reasons that America is such a great place to be an entrepreneur is the general acknowledgement that failure leads to success.

In many cultures, failure is associated with shame - if you fall down once, you don't get back up again. You don't get access to credit or doors opening for you anymore and there's pretty much a perpetual cloud hanging over your name. But in the States, over the last twenty years or so at least, it's accepted that you have to make mistakes in order to develop. "Frankly, it's a lot easier to raise money after you've failed once, because people understand that you have to learn," Randall says.

Failure (cold, hard and scary as it is!) is the best way to learn. Look at a company like Instagram. Kevin Systrom originally started it as a geolocation app and almost nobody used it. He was staring at failure, running out of money and decided to focus on filtering photographs instead. Systrom switched things up and is now a 32-year old billionaire; Instagram has over 500 million users worldwide, making it one of the top social networks in the world.

All of this to say - learning to embrace failure isn't about setting yourself up to fail, it's about emerging from the ashes of defeat stronger and more determined. If being an entrepreneur is your life passion, then let learning from your mistakes guide your great journey.