Let yourself fail
Admitting to fail was the hardest thing I ever had to do. At the same time, it was the most valuable and learning experience in my entire life.
I’ve always considered myself a very lucky person. I started my first company kind of by accident at the age of 15. Now I run three companies, all of them co-founded with the best friends. I enjoy the journey very much, I’m healthy and young, I have great family and friends.
Not that long ago, I wasn’t used to failure.
At the age of 18, I thought: let’s make something even bigger. Let’s create a global product, get investors onboard and make it huge. I read on TechCrunch that this is what cool kids are doing these days. MyGuidie started at 1st Warsaw Startup Weekend. Amazing team, great idea, big vision… We built a product, we got some traction, we won international startup competitions. I was already a well-known polish entrepreneur at the time, so we got a pretty big coverage and we gained some investors attention. We even sold 1% of shares on the auction and that got us a lot of hype and coverage in press or national tv. We were on the top of the world for a while but at the same time we didn’t stop working hard on getting more traction.
And we still failed. From the very top all the way down.
I closed this startup more than one and a half year ago and it was single, most learning experience I had in my life. I’m sure everyone who failed can say exactly the same.
We’ve tried everything, we poured our hearts into this idea, we talked to customers, investors, friends, we’ve done everything by the book, we’ve tried some totally crazy ideas, we pivoted a couple of times, we’ve got so much press that people are still reminding me of headlines (guys, it was 2 years ago!).
And then I’ve grown enough to admit the failure.
We closed the website, we thanked people who supported us, we’ve talked to investors, we thanked our customers and we even explained our reasoning to the press. It was all very public and hard. I was so afraid and sad about every single step of this process. I felt like I disappointed A LOT of people. But at the bottom of my heart I knew, that I just need to show my integrity and that was a right thing to do. People who supported us on the way DESERVE to know why.
You can’t imagine how afraid I was that people won’t trust me anymore, but to my surprise, it turned out to be something exactly opposite. Just two weeks later during Jerry Colonna’s talk in Warsaw, he said to me:
“Girl, you’re the person I’d invest the most because you know the feeling of failure, the feeling of losing someone’s else money and moving forward.”
The reason failure is so valuable is it gives you COURAGE. It’s much more terrifying if you haven’t done it before. People who have been fired once aren’t so afraid to be fired again and that gives you freedom to make strong decisions, to move fast and break things.
Failing shows you that in reality… it doesn’t hurt so bad. Yeah, some people will be angry or disappointed. You’ll have to explain to your grandma why it suddenly stopped working. You will get a couple of sleepless nights. But once you move forward, it will go away and you will LEARN a ton.
It also teaches you to take a lot of RISKS. Once you know it isn’t so bad, you’re starting to make bold decisions and it usually pays off.
If you know that the worst that can happen is actually learning something, you’re not a slave of a failure anymore.
But probably the most important thing: Failure gives you a lot of time to THINK. When something is just working, you don’t have time to think why, you have to go do the next thing because there is no finish line in your todo list. Failure makes you really think about reasons why it isn’t working and what could you do better. Only by failing you can actually learn something about yourself. Once you know your boundaries, you start taking on bigger challenges, and this knowledge last a lifetime.
Ultimately, failing makes you a better person. So fail a lot and fail hard.