Failure 'is an important part of success'

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Failure is not always a bad thing for business

Business leaders should not fear failure; this might seem a bit of an oxymoron, as failure would probably put a large dent in any company's plans for the future, but there is actually some method to this madness.

This is the view of Mike Herd, executive director of Sussex Innovation - the University of Sussex's business incubation service, who told that far from being a bad thing, failure can actually play an important role in helping businesses to achieve their full potential.

As many as half of all new businesses in the UK will fail to make it to the five-year mark and therefore understanding that failing to succeed is actually a much more common occurrence than people might at first realise.

Mr Herd argued that the important lesson that should be learnt from this statistic is the fact that there is no sure-fire path to success, even the most well-prepared and thought-out business idea can be a damp squib, so company leaders need to be prepared.

What matters most in ensuring the long-term future of a business is knowing those areas where failure should be welcomed and where it should be avoided at all costs - this is the true art of a successful entrepreneur.

"For all the background research in the world, sometimes your 'big idea' just won't catch on - there's no shame in failure for this reason," Mr Herd stated.

"What's much harder to explain, particularly when pitching future ventures, is failure due to poor financial management, operational problems or legal challenges."

Taking the time to properly research a new business venture is therefore essential, while new start-ups can often benefit from the expertise of others that have already been through the process, so building strong links with partners and taking part in mentoring programmes can be extremely beneficial.

What company leaders should not do though is hide from their past failures; every failed attempt at something is an opportunity to learn and businesses that do succeed will be built on a bedrock of experience and planning that has been developed through multiple failures.

"It is time that UK entrepreneurs learnt not to be so scared of failure. All experienced businesspeople understand that you cannot guarantee success," Mr Herd concluded.

"You can make the right decisions, manage your business perfectly well and still fail. By embracing this fact, entrepreneurs can turn adversity to their advantage.

"A good entrepreneur will understand what went wrong, learn from the experience and avoid failing for the same reason twice."