Startup failures and pivots can lead to success. Innovation—like starting a company—is fundamentally a learning process, so sometimes we have to fail in order to get better at succeeding. In fact, research shows that learning is optimal when decisions are successful about 85% of the time and fail about 15% of the time. At least, for certain types of learning.
It might be just coincidence, then, or it might be a good sign that we're good at learning as a society, that according to the Small Business Administration around 20% of small businesses fail in the first year. Startup failures provide valuable lessons to entrepreneurs, helping them learn from their mistakes and increase their chances of success in their next venture. In some cases, a startup failure can lead to a pivot that results in a more successful business model. Instagram, for example, started as a check-in app called Burbn but became one of the most popular photo-sharing social media platforms after pivoting. Similarly, Slack started as an internal tool for video game developer Tiny Speck. The company eventually pivoted to focus on Slack and rebranded as Slack Technologies.
Entrepreneurs who embrace failure as a learning opportunity, learn from their mistakes, and pivot when necessary can increase their chances of building a successful business. Some venture capitalists recognize the value of failure so strongly that they incorporate it into their investment strategy.
While failure is hard to accept, sometimes it's better than succeeding. Embrace your failures and just learn from them.
Posted by Thomas Hopper on Permanent link for Failure Breeds Success on April 21, 2023.