What Thomas Edison Can Teach Us About Failure

Will Failure Stop You?

Will Failure Stop You?

It never ceases to amaze me how wrong we humans can be. Take failure for example. All our lives we are taught failure is BAD. We must always triumph no matter what. Whether it’s in a physics class or on the gridiron—failure is NOT an option.

Well, I beg to differ with that view. Failure is always an option BUT it doesn’t have to be the end of life as we know it.

In fact failure’s a pretty good thing—REALLY!

Take Thomas Edison, for example, how many times did he fail before his lab finally found just the right filament to light the world? News flash: It took over 3000 experiments before Edison successfully invented and patented the electric light bulb.

If Edison didn’t give up after over 3,000 failures what about our businesses? Do we give up if a marketing campaign doesn’t work out as expected? Or do we learn what doesn’t work and move on?

Another famous example of someone who learned from failure is Abraham Lincoln. He had several failures in business and politics but you’d be hard-pressed to find those today who’d say he was a complete failure. One would also be hard-pressed to say Lincoln didn’t learn from those earlier failures.

And so it goes in business. Failure is good.

Failure is good IF we learn from our mistakes and move forward. Just look at such entrepreneurs as Steve Jobs—kicked out of the company he founded; or how about Walt Disney, he was told no one was interested in cartoons about rodents.

When and if you fail in business; perhaps it’s your sales and marketing—maybe it’s your product or service itself…it’s what you do next that matters. At the point of failure that’s the time to roll up your sleeves and get to the root of the failure. Analyzing what led to failure will reveal what you must do to avoid it.

As we’ve mentioned in past articles, if you are just starting business your number one goal MUST be sales. You’ve GOT to bring in money to build and sustain your business. All the fancy stuff can come later.

So, take a moment and reflect, how are your sales—could they do with improvement? Every business owner should say yes to this but if you can’t find customers or your customer base has stagnated, what can you do?

Go back and take a hard look at WHO you are selling to. Is this the right market? Take time to review and understand the demographics and psychographics of those who you’ve successfully sold to.

Ask yourself, “Are these the customers who give me the highest return for my investment of time and money?” If the answer is no, then you need to identify who your customer really is.

If the customer base is sound but sales have dropped, you need to ask yourself, “Why”?

What about your product or service? Have they undergone a transition? If you product or service isn’t THE BEST, then you need to fix it, period, dot! You can’t do business with an inferior product or service. If you are providing an inferior product or service and CONTINUE to provide an inferior product or service…say hello to the unemployment line.

On the other hand, if you know the product or service needs to change or mutate to please your customers…what are you waiting for—FIX IT!

Have you tapped out your customer base in your locality? Do you need to market outside your locality?

If this is the case then get on the ball and either hire a marketing professional or learn to market yourself. Marketing and sales is YOUR responsibility Mr. or Ms. Entrepreneur—get to it!

If your business is failing, do something about it. If you fail, pull out your magnifying glass, a note pad and paper and analyze what’s making the business fail. And then do what the great business leaders of the past have done.

Dust yourself off, grit your teeth, and move forward!

Here’s to your business success!

What do you think? Is failure good? Can we learn from business greats like Thomas Edison?
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Keith is the resident writer and troublemaker at Empowered Pros.
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