Fail Your Business Forward

Redefining Wins By Embracing Defeat

March 25, 2021
You’re thinking about “success” all wrong.

Traditionally, everyone assumes success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. 

I’d like to challenge this definition, and invite us to broaden our view of success to mean, instead, the good or bad outcome of any undertaking. This broader definition emphasizes activity over accomplishment, encompasses the value of failure, and enables us to access the utility of defeat.

Let’s face it: your ideas aren’t worth as much as you think they are. It's the action that makes ideas valuable — not your delicate, precious, unproven theory. 

Stop overplanning. End your analysis paralysis and kill your darlings (to quote Stephen King). In other words, test how quickly you can fail that amazing business idea of yours.

Thinking About Failure

Let’s say you failed. Boo-hoo. What's next? Get up, brush off your knickers, and set your mind to learning from failure instead of sulking about it. Heck, eventually you might even grow to welcome it.

We imagine progress too often and too narrowly as having one uninterrupted win after another. That’s completely the wrong way to approach business growth. More frequently, it’s about failing — quickly and (hopefully) non-catastrophically — and applying the lessons learned to the next iteration. 

Just to drive home the point, here’s a compilation of people who are, in one way or another, on their way to success...albeit, perhaps, with a few painful detours. 


Of course, this is easier said than done. Just because you’re experiencing the “success” of having a lot of failure does not automatically mean you’re moving in the direction of your goals and will automatically be guaranteed success. You need a framework to apply the lessons from failure, and to make the right iterative pivots to move your business forward.

How We Help Businesses Fail (Safely)

At Only Co., we work with businesses to create intentional tests to prove or disprove key business hypotheses. This allows you to “fail” with low-consequence and high-reward learning, with the end goal of shortening the “test-learn-iterate” cycle. The faster you get at this cycle, the more future-proof your business will be.

The hard part: failure can obviously bruise the ego. If you resolve to set your feelings aside and focus on the big picture, the faster you can make objective, intelligence-based pivots, and the faster you win. 

And we all like winning.


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