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How to Make Your Failures Productive

Rather than being the soul-shattering affair of times gone by, failure can now be something that's seen as great and the path of progress.

Statistics show that 67% of companies either end up either dead or becoming zombies that go on for years before calling it quits. But why is this a good thing? How can short-term failure lead to long-term success?

Over the course of your failures you may find they fit into one of two categories:

  1. Productive Failures - Many of these will be lessons that can be used in future successes.
  2. Unnecessary Failures - These are mistakes that could have been avoided through planning and experience. You may still cringe over the thoughts of these and they haven't been helpful in the long run.

By examining your failures and seeing that they aren't all equal, you can see how some of them can lead to greater things and how you can avoid falling into the same patterns that created the others.

How productive failure leads to success

It has been found that Constructive Criticism, when given in the right way, can help students further their learning in classroom environments. So if it can work in the classroom, why can't it work in real life?

Everyone fails at some point, this can be a small misjudgment or a large, crushing loss. What matters is how you deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Eliminate the blame

When you point the blame at something (or someone), you're not analysing the underlying processes that allowed the failure to happen. When something goes wrong in your business you're probably thinking of what you could have done to stop it from happening, but in blaming yourself, are you getting anything changed? The mistake may not have been caused by you, so why blame yourself? All this does is add to your stress and worry which can add to anxiety over things going wrong.

You will also need to remove blame from your team. The usual assumption is that failure is deliberate, while it has been found to usually be from process complexity.

While placing blame on someone or something may seem as though it's the right thing to do. It means the processes aren't being analysed and therefore you're not learning from the mistake. By asking why the failure happened, you're learning much more than you could by simply pointing the finger at someone.

Fail small before you fail big

Have you ever tried out an amazing new product just to have it fall flat before your very eyes? Before investing any time or money into ventures that could fail, it's worth trying them out first. Having a small scale victory, if it works, can be better than having a large loss if it doesn't. So try out your new ideas in small ways before committing to launch it into the stratosphere.

Examine what you've learned

Business failure can be a springboard to success, even if it means the entire business goes down. But it can be rare for business owners to reflect on why the failure happened and what deeper flaws were to blame.

Think of it this way, if you're selling a product, you need people to buy it for your business to become a success. But what if there's no demand out there for your product? You can't convince someone to buy something they're not interested in.

Maintain some perspective

It may feel like the end of the world when you experience a failure, but try not to take it too seriously. Of course, still be invested in your goals and aspirations but remember that the failure you've just experienced is a stepping stone to where you want to be, it's not the endgame.

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