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Failure Under the Microscope: Getting Your Arms Around It

Failure Under the Microscope: Getting Your Arms Around It


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Serial entrepreneur Diana Kander has been involved with a variety of businesses, from bars and restaurants to construction management and software products. Not every endeavor has succeeded, but win or lose, pretending that failure doesn’t exist is a loser’s game to Kander.

If you can’t get right up to failure, look it in the eye and give it a great big hug, you’re not only hurting your own chances for future success, but everyone else’s in the entrepreneurial community, she said.

“It’s important to embrace failure in the community, so that people aren’t afraid to admit when they’re in trouble and need help,” Kander said. “So many entrepreneurs feel it’s their responsibility to put on a face. They’re just selling all the time. And if more people would say, ‘You know, I’m having a really hard time figuring this out,’ they would save their businesses before it was too late. That’s my motivation for talking about failure.”

Failure may not be the secret to success, but being able to take good notes while tanking never hurts.

“I don’t know any successful entrepreneur – I don’t know a single one – that doesn’t have more failures in their past than successes,” Kander said. “I don’t know that failure is the secret formula to success, because some people just fail. You have to be able to learn from your failures and understand why they happened.”

Kander is the author of the forthcoming “All In Startup,” which will go on sale in June. The story takes place in the world of professional poker. Poker can be a useful way to think about entrepreneurism—not because it’s gambling, but because of the strategy involved.

“You can just be a bad poker player and not figure out why you’re losing the hands, and just lose all your money every time,” Kander said. “Or you can analyze what happened: What did I do incorrectly? How do I adjust my tactics next time I play a similar hand or with similar players? And if you learn something from each of those experiences, you’ll be a better contender for the next go round.”

Brian McTavish

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Brian McTavish is the senior writer at Thinking Bigger Business Media.

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