Welcome back to IB University our free programme to help you build the skills you need to run your own business.
This is the last of our founder Gerald Vanderpuye’s five things he wishes he knew before he set up his first company. And this week, we’re getting real with ourselves. Is our business really on the path to failure? Or are we just ready to throw in the towel?
Keep an eye out for our upcoming series on pitching your business and commanding the room with your public speaking skills. And in the meantime, catch up on the rest of Gerald’s tips – you can find number one, number two, number three and number four here.
FIVE THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY BUSINESS
5. DON’T CONFUSE FAILURE WITH QUITTING
When I pursue a new startup – especially far-out ideas that might not work – I plan for failure. I ask myself two important questions:
- If it fails, what will be the top three things that will cause it to die?
- What can I do now to reduce those risks?
The answers to these two questions often reveal the most significant assumptions I have made about the market, customer or problem I want to solve. This exercise helps me de-risk the venture and feel more confident, knowing I’ve anticipated the worst-case scenario.
Failure is often less to do with you, and more about what you need to learn. Quitting, however, is often about you and your mindset, and the excuses and the stories we tell ourselves that allows us to walk away easier.
I learnt from Seth Godin how to think about quitting. The best time to stop important life projects is right at the beginning.
I always have a new project on the go. And if I’m in the early stages and I realise it’s not something I want to do long-term, I let it go. But once that initial period is over and I decide to pursue it, I refuse to quit.
I prepare myself for challenges that will make me feel and think about quitting – but rather than giving up, I recognise these as moments to double down, get help and push through it.
Once I’ve committed to a project, the only thing I am allowed to do is to fail. But failure is ONLY what happens when there are no paths forward and there is nothing on earth you can do at that moment tol keep the project going. If that’s not the case, then you’re not failing – you’re quitting.
And once you change your mindset, you’ll realise that rarely do we ever fail.
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To read more of Gerald’s writing, head to his blog, Virtue Collectors Club.
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