In many parts of the world, failure is frowned upon. Given the stigma associated with failure, many people become hesitant to venture into areas where chances of success are not significantly high (Roger and Willett 88). Contrary to popular belief, every failure has a positive side. Consequently, one should adopt an optimistic lens when examining projects and ideas whose end result could be contrary to one’s expectations. In this paper, I am going to use my personal experience to show that rather than being viewed as a failure, undertakings that do not result in the realization of goals should be regarded as the first steps toward success.
I was born into a highly conservative family. My parents had stable careers in government departments. As government officials with a fixed tenure, they did not have to grapple with fears of being retrenched or demoted. Given their love for stability, my parents advised us to follow in their footsteps as far as career choices were concerned. My siblings were risk-averse, and thus, they dreaded pursuing career paths that were marred by insecurity. In line with my parents’ wishes, they chose to work for the government in various capacities. On the other hand, in total disregard of the counsel given by my parents, I opted to venture into business.
I faced a lot of opposition from my family members. My father, in particular, pointed out that I would not enjoy a fixed income. He went on to warn that starting a business was risky because of prevailing harsh economic conditions. My sister added that a lot of businesses that open up end up being closed before their first anniversary.
It was hard to start a business at a time when my family members were opposed to the idea. They expressed concerns that my business idea was not feasible. Given that I expected that my family members would be my first customers, I was discouraged when it became apparent that they did not believe that I could succeed in the business. Despite the resistance that I faced, I was adamant to open a business. I used the savings that I had to open a clothes business in my local town. I specialized in selling clothes that were in the latest fashion. I hoped to target students in institutions of high learning on the assumption that such people were interested in fashionable clothes.
True to my family’s word, the business performed poorly. Despite advertising the business on various platforms, it took three weeks to get my first customer. To have an edge over my business rivals, I offered discounts. By charging low prices, I hoped to drive my competitors out of business. In an ugly twist of events, my competitors who sold goods at relatively high price continued to have a steady flow of customers. This was one of the lowest points in life. It is the moment that I thought that my parents were right after all. Maybe some families were destined to serve as civil servants and not as business people.
By the third month, the performance of my business deteriorated. Not only was I struggling to pay rent, but I had also depleted my savings in making advertisements. The government had also threatened to close down my business for non-compliance with tax regulations. I knew it would be an exercise in futility to ask my parents and siblings for some financial assistance. Despite being aware that my business was on the verge of collapse, I strived to keep it alive. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse. It is at this juncture that I made the difficult decision of closing down. Given that my dream of creating a business empire did not materialize, I considered myself to have failed. In light of the dismal performance, perhaps time was now ripe to follow my family’s tradition of being in salaried employment.
Many people who fail in their first business develop a phobia of self-employment. Some of them decide to seek work in government offices or in the corporate sector. I was about to fall into the same trap. However, before giving up on ever being successful, I considered it appropriate to analyze why my business had performed poorly. To this end, I hired the services of a business consultant. I was shocked by what had led to undesirable results. The business expert revealed that I had not carried out any research prior to starting the business. On the contrary, I bought clothes that I felt that reflected the latest trends in the fashion industry.
Unfortunately, the clothes that I bought were out of fashion. It is no wonder that consumers avoided my shop despite it selling various products at low prices. The consultant also pointed out that my business was not strategically located. In particular, it was located in a highly secluded area that was not easily accessible.
Prior to starting the business, I had always been oblivious to the role of research. This is despite research playing an important role in the success of any business (Håkansson and Waluszewski 11). Given that my ignorance resulted in my failure barely three months after opening a clothes shop, I resolved to be careful in my future endeavors. I did some odd jobs and accumulated enough capital to start again. To avert the mistakes I had made in the past, I did thorough market research on the feasibility of various business ideas that I had in mind. I found out that clothes were the most lucrative commodity to sell in the market. I also hired an adviser who helped me identify a strategic position to start a clothes selling enterprise. In addition, I did research on clothes that the people around the area loved to wear. I came to find out that males in the locality rarely purchased clothes. It would, therefore, be pointless to stock male attire. With this in mind, I decided to specialize in the selling of female garments. My investigation also led me to realize that the society in which I was operating was rather conservative. In particular, they didn’t like tight clothes. In light of the information obtained, I purchased clothes that were in line with the tastes and preferences of potential consumers. From the in-depth research that I conducted, I was shocked to realize that the locals placed more emphasis on the quality than on the cost of products. Consequently, rather than selling the merchandise at low prices, I opted to attract customers by stocking goods of high quality.
My enterprise has been a success. Despite selling clothes at relatively high prices, the customers have been on the rise. To keep up with an upsurge in demand, I have been forced to hire two assistants. Moreover, business sales have surpassed monthly projections. Given the demand for clothes, I will open a new branch in another part of the city. Like other successful people, I did not allow my past failures to hinder me from working towards my goals (Sherry 555). On the contrary, I used past failures as stepping stones to my current success.
When asked about the factors that have made me successful in business, the answer that I give shocks many. Rather than attributing my success to hard work or shrewd managerial skills, I tell people that my success has emanated from past business failures. Had I not failed in my first attempt, I could not be as successful as am I today. Consequently, failure serves as a learning example (Logan 105). People should not, therefore, fear to fail as it is only through failure that one draws lessons for the future.
In a bid to eradicate the stigma that is associated with failure, I am in the process of writing a book about my personal experiences. I intend to use this book to make entrepreneurs bold when they venture into unexplored territories. By doing this, I hope to play a role, albeit in a small way, in showing that failure has its positive sides. Consequently, given the instrumental role played by failure in preparing people for future success, people should not fear trying out new ideas on the grounds that such untested concepts may fail.
Håkansson, Håkan, and Alexandra Waluszewski. Knowledge and Innovation in Business and Industry: The Importance of Using Others. Routledge, 2007.
Logan, Paul. Zero: Viewpoints of Acquiring Knowledge
Shery, Mary. In Praise of F Word
Von Oech, Roger, and George Willett. A whack on the side of the head: How you can be more creative. New York: Warner Books, 1990.