I really blew it and everyone knows it. I’ve even spoken at conferences on Failure. I might’ve even deluded myself into thinking I was the keynote speaker. By the way, my favorite technique in public speaking is to slightly slur my words but that’s another post.
I’m like Dr. Failure. I know exactly what you need to do if you want your wife to hate you, if you want to get thrown out of school, if you want to lose your investors $100 million. If you want to lose your home, and so on.
1/16 of the time people are happy. The rest of the time they are unhappy. So if you start to avoid all the things that cause unhappiness then maybe there’s a small chance you can improve the ratios in your favor
Claudia says “why are you writing about failure? Think positive!” What? Avoiding every possible way to fail is the most positive thing you can do to be happy and successful.
Here’s the REAL reasons entrepreneurs fail. Its not because of a bad programmer. Fire him and get a new one. Its not because a client pulled out at the last minute. Get a new client, or anticipate. It not because your girlfriend cheated on you. Kick her to the curb. Its not because some guy sued you or your employees delivered an unfinished product. We already know its your fault. Every failure (EVERY) failure boils down to these core reasons that come from the INSIDE. Some might seem obvious but they really are the ONLY reasons for failure. They are the CORE FOUNDATIONS of every failure. Pay attention to them please:
A) Sickness. This is obvious. If you are sick all the time, you won’t be successful at a business. When I was a venture capitalist I would never invest money to a guy hooked up to a ventilator. Or even if I supect they are clinically deprssed. Many people avoid second dates if they find out on the first date the girl has late-stage terminal cancer. This is sad but reality.
What does it mean for an enterpreneur? Put good things in your body. Exercise. Don’t drink. Sleep 8 hours a day. That’s it. Then you probably won’t get sick as much and you’ll have a lot of energy to do your business. If you’re sick in bed all the time, your business will fail.
Sometimes Sickness might also be telling you something. When I worked for a private equity firm I fell once for no reason and could barely walk for a week or so afterwards. It wasn’t good for me to be there. I never went back. And later experiences proved me correct. Your body sometimes knows more than you do.
B) Inertia. I went out for dinner the other night with people who couldn’t stop talking, eating, and drinking. One person had business ideas. The other person wanted to write a novel. All night long drinking, eating, talking about business ideas, talking about writing novels. Talking, eating, drinking, talking, walking, drinking again, talking more. Then you sleep. Wake up at eight. Bloated, sick, heavy.
Wake up at eight — then you are too late. If you want to succeed you first have to get up and start. You can’t watch SharkTank, you have to be the shark. Don’t waste time. Start NOW. No more stuffing your face. No more parties at high-tech meetups with lots of social media experts. You know you only want to have sex with a social media expert. Stop lying about it. Start your business.
C) Doubts. You need to have a real passion behind the product you are creating. Would YOU use the product? If you wouldn’t, or if you are not sure, then you have doubts. Steve Jobs WANTED an ipad, an ipod, an i-everything. Doubts will make you fail because you won’t be able to make critical design decisions. Decisions are the top of a pyramid. Beneath the top is the base built by your solid foundation: “this is the product I would use. This is the product I want!” Then all decisions come from that.
With stockpickr.com I was obsessed about putting in new features. But every single new feature was something that had worked successfully to make me a better trader. I had no doubts. I had the spreadsheets showing me those strategies worked. With Reset.com I only built websites that I would want to use.
D) Laziness. Everyone is lazy some of the time. If I am bored with something I’m lazy. But with a startup, or if you are trying to move up in the corporate world, or if you are falling in love with a girl, you can’t be lazy. She wants to go dancing tango. You want to watch Jay Leno. You’re a lazy pig. She’ll find someone else to tango with. You have to be working at it all the time, except when you sleep and exercise and even then your subconscious is working at it. For jobs and startups, its a 10-12 hour day. There’s no avoiding it. Managing that time is a different story but that’s how you beat the 9 hour a day competitors.
E) Carelessness. If your programmers present you a final product, you still have to check every page, click on everything, click on everything fast and twice, don’t forget a birthday or an anniversary, don’t forget everything your boss told you or everything the client wanted. Be detail oriented. Persistent carelessness equals consistent failure.
F) Vacillating. Is this the right business? Or should I back up and start fresh with a new idea? Should I hire this girl? Or that guy? I’ll hire this guy but then I’ll have doubts and I wont follow up. I’ll go out with this girl who is rich but maybe I really like that sexy girl who I met in an elevator. If you’re stuck in too many middles, you get sliced up into bits of broken glass. Your businesses implodes, your relationships have to start back at zero. You vacillated and ended up with nothing. Congratulations. By the way, pick the sexy girl.
G) No progress. You start your business. You launch your dating site. A few people sign up. But there’s no excitement. People stop signing up. Traffic stays a few dozen people a day. Ok, no progress. You buy some google ads. They sort of work. No progress. By the way, failure is not a stigma. Its ok to fail. Its just that having “no progress” might be an indication you need to move to another idea or business. I have a post coming about this about another business I started where I was making no progress so I stopped the business and had to return money on the eve of raising it. I was shaking when I returned the money. I don’t like to give back $500,000 that had my name on it. I was a failure. But ultimately returning the money on the eve of failure created much goodwill and led to greater success later. This is not about the success of one business or failure. This is about the success of you.
Even profitable companies sometimes have no progress and have to be rethought. This happened to me with my fund of hedge funds. More on that in another story. Or maybe I told it already. I don’t know.
H) Delusions. People start a business, then they think its the best geo-locator mobile dating discount app on the universe: “its called ‘6th Circle’ because its a play on “foursquare” and the sixth circle of Dante’s Inferno. We’re going to do five deals with major sidewalk companies in China to get the word out. The market is $18 billion in profits because we get everyone in Shanghai to pay 10 cents a day.” Blah blah. Always look back. “Am I smoking crack?” “Am I smoking crack?” “Am I smoking crack?” Every day check the ashtray. Is there crack in there? Delusions will keep you from making progress. Then suddenly, no money, no friends, no more PR, and you’re on your bed smoking your last piece of crack hanging onto the lonely panties of the last hooker who left you by yourself, not even bothering to dress as she slammed the door on the way out. This is your mind on crack.
I) You Fall Backwards. You’re losing clients. Your best programmer quit. Your traffic is going down. Your girlfriend is not returning your calls. Your boss promoted someone over you. Time to get creative now. You need to think out of the box. Again, this is just an obstacle. Not a failure. Failures start off as obstacles. You want to overcome obstacles. You can’t make your girlfriend call you back. Maybe you get a new girlfriend who calls you back. Maybe you take a step back and build a new site. You start looking for a new job so you find people who value you. Falling backwards consistently will make you go to zero. So when you start to “fall backwards” you say, “ok, I have an obstacle. Now I need to think out of the box to get rid of this obstacle.” Its not bad to have obstacles. You just have to overcome them. If you fall back too far then you fell down.
Consistently having ANY of the nine items above will make your business fail. And will make them succeed if you avoid ALL of them. I say “consistently”. Be vigilant. Every morning review the potential obstacles. Every afternoon. Every night. Catch yourself when you first hit the obstacle. If you can clean the obstacles out, you’ll have success. Guaranteed.
Follow the Daily Practice I outline and obstacles will be easier to catch before you fail. Trust it. That Practice will WORK. It works for me. I see it work every day for others. Businesses might fail, relationships might not work out, your old boss will be stuck yelling at the dead pieces of meat that sit in his office sucking up to him. Everyone in the world is suing everyone else and blaming their old best friends. Your ex girlfrind is busying being unhappy in her next relationship. But no longer can anything stop you from succeeding.