Throughout my entrepreneurial life, failure has not been a dreaded nemesis but a cherished ally in his pursuit of success. It might not have always felt like it at the time, but stumbling blocks are not signs of weakness but as stepping stones to greatness.
Instead of concealing failures, entrepreneurs need to unashamedly embrace them. Each fall actually catapults us higher. This level of vulnerability is essential to not only reminding fellow entrepreneurs they are not alone, but it is the catalyst we need to encourage others to take the leap into entrepreneurship. Sure, failure can feel scary, but the birth of triumph comes from the ashes of setbacks.
In this article, I lay bare some of my entrepreneurial missteps from my career to date and the lessons I learned that were essential for personal and professional growth.
Lesson 1: Diversify Your Ventures: It’s an age-old adage, but oh-so-true—don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I learned this the hard way when my business suffered a near-catastrophic blow after losing a major client. With half the turnover gone, I realised that relying heavily on a few customers was a perilous gamble. Diversification was the key to unlocking resilience. Swiftly, we worked on expanding the client base and diversified the streams, making the business invulnerable to the dangers of overreliance.
Lesson 2: Embrace Creative Thinking: Your tactics for reaching new customers are going to change as the needs of your customers change. It can be tricky to know what to do and you can quickly feel like a failure if you thought you knew your industry, but things are no longer working.
When faced with the challenge of reaching new clients, my team dared to think outside the box—quite literally. We opted to acquire retro Nokia phones from the ’90s and placed them in vibrant red boxes. Along with unconventional sales letters, they sent these quirky parcels to carefully researched ideal clients. The phones rang inside the boxes after delivery—a magnetic mystery that couldn’t be ignored. Curiosity piqued, conversations sparked, and new business flourished.
Creativity was their ticket to success and it came from discarding that unhelpful feeling of failure.
Lesson 3: Evolve Like Madonna: Drawing parallels between business and the music industry, you could argue that the iconic Madonna has been on a transformative journey over her career. This is what I learned that entrepreneurs have to be like too. Like the pop legend, businesses must stay agile and adaptable to remain relevant. Stagnation leads to oblivion. Constant reinvention is the heartbeat of triumph. And so, just like Madonna, I learned to embrace change and rode the waves of innovation.
Lesson 4: Embrace Work-Life Balance: Amidst the storm of the Covid-19 pandemic, I realised something. Success is not about who works the longest or the latest—it’s about achieving excellence. The pre-pandemic hustle culture made many entrepreneurs feel like if they weren’t constantly grinding then they were a failure.
The pandemic was my push to change focus from endless hustle to prioritising quality results. With newfound clarity, work-life balance was a priority, knowing that thriving team members create flourishing businesses. Whilst my lack of work-life balance didn’t end in a bigger problem like burnout, others could if they do not take notice of the need to restore their energy.
The common thread running through all of these stories is I learned the importance of remaining adaptable. Whether that is listening to my body that I need to slow down, listening to customers that I need to try something new or listening to the wider industry that new trends are going to be important, the most important thing is listening and adapting, rather than seeing every required change as a result of failure.
If you take anything from this article, take this: Embrace failure as a friend. It’s not a dead-end, but a signpost guiding you towards personal and professional growth.
David García González is an English and Spanish audiovisual translator turned multi-award-winning entrepreneur and owner of GoLocalise, a localisation company specialising in the audiovisual field (translation, subtitling and voice-overs). David is the author of “Chancing Your Arm: How I Made It Big In Britain”.