When you read about startups in the news, the articles usually cover one of three events in a company’s lifecycle: launching their service or product, raising an investment round, or selling their business. This paints an unrealistic picture of what startup life is like because these three events do not represent the average lifecycle of a company. In fact, the vast majority of startups fail. They lay off all their staff and shut down their site. Few of these stories are ever reported. And when they are, the article is usually a short piece covering the email the company sent to it’s customers or employees describing how the wrap up will take place and ending with “none of the leadership team could be reached for comment.”
We lose so much value as a community when we let these stories go. There are so many valuable lessons hidden behind their shuttered doors. And their failures can save a lot of time and money for future entrepreneurs who are willing to learn from their mistakes.
So I’ve started a series of interviews exploring failed startups.
This is my first interview from Forbes.com: The Good Side of Failure: Three Painful, but Worthy, Lessons
A few years back I was doing an interview for a business paper and when the reporter asked me if I had a business motto or phrase to live by, I replied “Fail quickly!” She looked at me funny and I quickly realized that what she heard was “Go out of business quickly” but what I meant was “Failure is completely normal. It happens to all of us. And the only thing you can do is minimize the consequences to your business by realizing that small failures are going to occur early on and saving yourself a lot of time and money from going in the wrong direction.”
I hope this column helps you identify failure before it happens by understanding that it is a normal part of startup life.