18 Entrepreneurs Discuss on Whether Mistakes or Failure Have Affected Their Success

Business fails are the best form of learning. Hiring an expert or a coach to walk you through establishing your business can help you minimise the chances of failure but some entrepreneurs will prefer walking alone. Whichever path works best for you, you’ve got to be comfortable with failure and most importantly learn how to improve or deal with it. Don’t be too hard on yourself for the failures and don’t give up yet.

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners on whether mistakes or failure have affected their success and here are the responses.

#1- They've been my strengths in disguise

Photo Credit: Mollie Newton

At first, I thought they were the negative parts or the barriers in my work, but looking back, I realized that I would never be where I am now if it ain't for those mistakes and failures I wished to eliminate before. They contributed an essential drive and motivation for me to improve my business further. It's inevitable to feel disappointed and discouraged whenever we did not achieve what we were hoping for, but what matters is our process of accepting circumstances and moving on. Aside from my team and my loved ones' support, my own mistakes and failures became my backbone to better myself and work harder to achieve success.

Thanks to Mollie Newton, Pet Me Twice!

#2- Helped me succeed in business

Photo Credit: Eli Diament

Failure is inevitable – every CEO or business leader will suffer setbacks, they can't be avoided. What differentiates leaders is their resilience, ability to adapt and potentially even capture value from setbacks. I build this into how our team functions, trying to get our employees to ‘fail fast and iterate to succeed' because we recognize that failure is 100% inevitable. Mistakes and failure will make us a stronger business than before we encountered the challenge.

Thanks to Eli Diament, Azurite Consulting!

#3- I build my success based on other people's mistakes

Photo Credit: Lucas Robinson

My success simply boils down to learning from other people's mistakes, contrary to what others had always told me in the beginning of my career – ‘learn from your own mistakes'! Learning from your own mistakes is a long road to success, however, learning from others is a much quicker and less stressful way to the top. When you're starting a new business, the information on every company – past/present, successful or not is at our fingertips; on the Internet. Finding out all the things that went wrong gives you all the tools and information to go with what will work. This drove me on quicker and allowed me to accelerate the business quicker than others in my niche.

Thanks to Lucas Robinson, Crediful!

#4- They are my motivation

Photo Credit: James Pearson

Mistakes and failures have greatly affected my success. How? I used it as my stepping stone to learn more and endure the harsh reality of the competitive business industry. I use it as a motivation to be better and wiser. You will always encounter failures. You will always face the consequences of your bad decisions and mistakes. However, it is up to you on how you will embrace it. It’s either you dwell and sulk on your failures or you will get up and restart. As for me, I have always set my mind to focus on the silver lining during adversities. If you fail, made a mistake or got rejected, get up and start again. Use it as an opportunity to make you thrive. You won’t be able to grow if you haven’t faced any pitfalls in your business.

Thanks to James Pearson, eVenturing Enterprises!

#5- Played a big part in my personal success

Mistakes have played a big part in my personal success and that of my company. I've learned to not be afraid to take a risk. What separates successful entrepreneurs from so many others is the ability to take risks and be comfortable making mistakes. Things don’t often work the first time but if you’re committed to what you pursue, and are willing to listen and learn, the path of entrepreneurship and success can be rewarding.

Thanks to Carlos Castelán, The Navio Group!

#6- Mistakes help me think and restrategize

Photo Credit: Stefan Smulders

If there were no mistakes, my business wouldn't be where it is now. With every step back, I spend a lot of time thinking and strategizing and trying to always be two steps ahead. It's important to communicate with your employees and think about their viewpoints, as trying to do everything on your own can poorly affect their motivation. Of course, some mistakes can cause the business to completely flop such as poor management of cash flow or ineffective leadership. But most of the time, if you are willing to improve and consider different viewpoints, your business will bounce back in no time, regardless of past mistakes.

Thanks to Stefan Smulders, Expandi!

#7- I turn the setbacks into opportunities

Photo Credit: Tammo Walter

When it comes to any business you are going to have your shares of mistakes and failures but it's how you transform those setbacks into opportunities that end up being the takeaway from those instances. For example, when I first started my company it was called Mode and that name did not truly capture the essence of our sports nutrition brand. Because of this the name ended up changing to ATAQ Fuel and with the name change came a lot of confusion from customers who were accustomed to the old name. However, after implementing various branding tactics the name change ended up being a success and our customers became very supportive and have even embraced it by sharing images online of how they#ataqtheday or are #ontheataq.

Thanks to Tammo Walter, ATAQ Fuel!

#8- Yes, they shaped the way I think

Photo Credit: Adam Hempenstall

Back in my early career, I have made a mistake or two, mostly in the way I handled clients. I would say yes to clients I didn’t want to work with because I needed the work and the money. In the end, I hated myself and as expected, the clients were difficult to deal with. I fixed the mistake by going out to a bank and taking out a loan to my name, 10,000 GBP. This was the safety net that stopped me from taking on bad clients out of desperation and it was one of the best things I’ve done for my career. In that sense, the mistakes I made shaped the way I think now and they’re one of the reasons for my success.

Thanks to Adam Hempenstall, Better Proposals!

#9- They teach and inform me of the right action

Photo Credit: Dr. Ruth Miller-Anderson

A decade ago, I was buried in the quagmire of failure in both life and business. I had been an academic who couldn’t quell her entrepreneurial spirit; I left my academic career in 2004 and started several businesses including; property development; a coffee shop; a consultancy; and a local magazine. Whilst initially very successful, the global financial recession of 2008 had devastating consequences resulting in the liquidation of my once successful coffee shop business with a £500k annual turnover, and then my own personal bankruptcy. I simultaneously got divorced and found myself in the single parent niche. I didn’t realise at the time that this abject failure where I was immersed in shame and guilt was actually my biggest teacher. I had to learn the tools to cope and navigate the path of devastation towards my new life. I sought support from life, mindset and business coaches who restored my belief in myself and my abilities ultimately leading to me setting up my own coaching business. Entrepreneurship is a risky but rewarding journey of both failure and success; these two are not mutually exclusive but dependent upon each other. Perceived failures and setbacks are there to teach and inform you about the correct action to take towards a successful outcome.

Thanks to Dr. Ruth Miller-Anderson, The Swan Doctor Coaching!

#10- It doubles the joy of my success

Photo Credit: Rahul Vij

Since my first day as an entrepreneur, I have committed many mistakes. After each mistake, my focus was to correct it with a positive approach. Failure is a part of life, but one should never stop making efforts to turn it into success. When you succeed after failing multiple times, you understand the real value of success, and it doubles the joy. It took me a long time to get the first client for my business, but I always knew it was going to happen one day; all I needed to do was to try again and again. Then, there came a day when I succeeded. I may have failed many times, but I always believed that failures are just stepping stones to success.

Thanks to Rahul Vij, WebSpero Solutions!

#11- Failure is the pinnacle of success in my career

Photo Credit: Laura Clary

Without the shortcomings, I would not realize what I was good at and move in that direction. In college, I began pursuing a medical degree. Thankfully I bombed at most of the biology courses, and that redirected me to leadership studies in which I excelled and loved. The first job I failed at the professionalism side of the position; this allowed me to be coached by some of the best mentors available and learn what great leaders do and do not do. At many points in my career, the failures of projects, guidance, and innovation led to inspiration and growth. The failures forced me to look at faults differently and allowed me to see that trying, failing, and succeeding is all part of the process. If I did not try, there was no chance of succeeding. Failure is not the lack of success; it is the proof one is aiming for success. Now, when I see young professionals fail and rise again, I know they are the ones destined for greatness. If a leader can handle failure, they can manage success.

Thanks to Laura Clary, Unique Leadership!

#12- Yes, mainly on pricing

Photo Credit: M. Denise Simmons

The mistakes that I have made along the way that has affected my success was pricing myself low on the high-quality of services I offered. I remember sometimes, I would spend hours on an invoice before I sent it out to the client which would bite me in the foot because I would quote so low, just to get the gig but it came with so much frustration. I spent so much time trying to appease the client and I would lose sight and not have time to think strategically on how to grow my business. Not having time to grow my business, stunts the growth for myself and my team.

Thanks to M. Denise Simmons, MD Simmons Productions!

#13- It's the only real way to learn

Photo Credit: Simon Dannatt

It might feel like an overstatement, but I'm not sure it is: All of my success is because of the things I managed to get wrong. When I first became a CEO I realized I did not have a clue. It was a very stressful time for me, and probably much worse for everyone around me, for a while at least. Learning from your mistakes has always been the only real way to learn. In this fast-changing and challenging world, embracing that change and trying the best you can and then adapting when things go wrong is the only road to success. I can sum it up in this expression – ‘Make a good decision today, make a better one tomorrow'. While that might look like a ‘duh' comment, it recognizes that what you think is good may very well not be and you should adjust if it isn't. In the end, being humble enough to admit a mistake and move on makes for a much more successful life.

Thanks to Simon Dannatt, The Sound: Exploration, Strategy, Innovation!

#14- Absolutely

Photo Credit: Justin Brown

I started Ideapod with a bang. I was backed by rich and famous investors and by all accounts, it seemed Ideapod was going to be the next big thing. Suffice it to say, things didn't go according to plan. I found myself more and more successful, but I didn't derive meaning from any of it. The success came at the cost of my personal growth and happiness. It left me at a crossroads: do I stay true to my vision or keep chasing society's ideals of success? Choosing the latter meant I'll fail in modern-day business standards. Making the opposite choice meant I'd have a chance to truly make a difference in the world. So I chose to fail. But it turned out to be the best failure of my life. Now, my company is helping people create real positive change in their life—and I sleep more soundly at night.

Thanks to Justin Brown,!

#15- Mistakes led to losses

Photo Credit: Weina Scott

I started two successful companies sold to public corporations. One of them raised over 100 million dollars. The mistake I made as an entrepreneur was being afraid of failure. Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” When building my first business, I was afraid to take risks and took a safe path. For example, we did not spend any money on marketing because we were worried about wasting money. As a result, I was only able to sell the company for a fraction of its true valuation. Starting a new business is scary and is not for the faint-hearted. Being worried about failure will prevent you from succeeding.

Thanks to Weina Scott, Sumizeit!

#16- I learned to create proven plans

Photo Credit: Maksym Babych

I am a former startup founder in the area of computer vision. My team created a cutting-edge software that performed much better, than existing hardware lidars. However, to did this, I had to do a pivot – to rethink the whole concept from scratch. The reason – I failed. I started to develop a product without any market proofs, without successful sales, without potential customers. I was self-confident, those huge corporations like BMW or Volvo will buy my software. However, I didn't match a lot of factors in the decision making of such structures and my own marketing efforts. My fail was to start a costly AI development without a proven plan. As fast I understood, that I move nowhere, as fast I decided to change strategy and tactic. And as a result, I was able to make an exit to a Sweden security company.

Thanks to Maksym Babych, SpdLoad!

#17- I learned to differentiate between need and demand

Photo Credit: Aaron Emmel

My first business venture was an absolute dud, despite there being a substantial societal problem to solve. As a pharmacist, I had personal experience on the harms of medication errors and the high prevalence of inappropriate medication regimens. Knowing that I had the expertise to fix these problems, I thought I personally had a solution that would attract a vast market. I launched SmarterMeds, PLLC in 2010 as a healthcare consumer-facing consulting service, with the value proposition that our service fees would result in cheaper and safer medication regimens. Other than some minor success in contracting with a few insurers to do medication reviews, I learned that there was no demand for this service in the patient consumer market. This failure taught me an important lesson on the difference between need and demand: one that was valuable in assessing business opportunities and leading me to a successful venture a decade later.

Thanks to Aaron Emmel, Pharmacy Tech Scholar!

#18- It happens to the best

Photo Credit: David Weingot

Definitely, and I think it happens to the best of us. Whether it’s getting Fs in school or your first business venture tanking and leaving your deeply in debt, it makes or breaks you. But since I was young, I’ve always been about righting the wrong from the previous experience and coming out of it a better, stronger person.

Thanks to David Weingot, DMAC Security!

 Has mistakes or failure affected your success? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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