Failure Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs

There is no success without failure.
Yet failure tears at our soul, wreaks havoc with our moods, sends us deeply into questioning our worth and validity.

Or does it?

Entrepreneurs require a failure survival guide, as all success requires failure.


Entrepreneur Failure Survival Guide


Thomas Edison created  10,000 or so versions of his light bulb before one actually worked.

Were the attempts, failures?

The Wright Brothers constructed multiple flying machines over a number of years, before flying  a controllable aircraft in Kitty Hawk.


One cannot be a successful entrepreneur without taking risks, and one cannot take necessary risks and experiment without being prepared for and even expectant of, failure.

As children we dreaded seeing that big black “F” on our schoolwork. Yet as adults, we must come to understand that the emotions wrought by the “F” are hangovers from a system designed for conformity, not for innovation!

Entrepreneurs must have a survival guide for failure if they have any chance of success. There are only three steps to surviving failure and preventing it from getting it’s old worn out suction cups into your psyche.

1.    Change perception.

When you were a young child learning to walk, were you punished for falling? As you spoke your first words, were you reprimanded for “baba” instead of “bunny” or “ba-boo” instead of “balloon”?  Of course not!

Historically we were applauded for our attempts, even though they were not “correct” and often highly amusing. Somewhere along the way we were confronted with a system that demanded  perfection. Maybe it was an uncle with high expectations, or a teacher who only saw black and white in children’s learning process, rather than the gold of exploration and creativity. Our joy of experimentation was sullied.

To change your perception of “failure” you must go back and erase the messages that were ingrained from this conformity system.  Look at how you applaud your own children’s attempts. Remember the shining beacon of someone who told you as a child to keep trying!

When you shift the meaning of failure to one of something GOOD – of something NECESSARY, you will realize that there is no such thing. Every  time you try and don’t succeed you are one step closer. That is the real meaning of failure. Which is why you must…

2.    Embrace errors 

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison.


Edison did not in fact invent the light bulb. There were over 20 versions of the electric light prior to his. But what he did accomplish is make the bulb efficient and commercially viable. His light bulb was literally responsible for changing how the world lived in the dark. Prior to Edison’s light bulb, oil lamps and candles were the norm. Imagine if Thomas has given up after 100 tries? You can bet he had critics and naysayers, but for Edison invention was trial and error. It had to be. How could you know what would work and wouldn’t work without experimentation?

The same is true for entrepreneurs and their business journey. Though there are case histories one can study and mentors to guide, ultimately we must all forge our own path. To do so REQUIRES trial and error. Thus you must embrace error, for without it how would you know what works?

3.    Fail Forward

As a baby, each time you fell down you got up. If you hadn’t, you’d still be crawling around on your hands and knees today!! What a funny sight that would be!

Failing forward is exactly the same thing. Each time (and there will be many) pick yourself up, brush off your knees, clean the scrapes and bruises, and assess what went wrong and what went right. Then prepare to do it again with a new level of understanding and experience.
Fail forward over and over again and you will fall headfirst into massive success!

Entrepreneurs – 3 Step Survival Guide for Failure

  1. Change Perception
  2. Embrace Errors
  3. Fail Forward

Take a moment and share a comment about a time when you re-framed “failure” into the momentum and knowledge leading to triumph!

This article originally appeared on Launch and Hustle dot com, written by Deborah Tutnauer and is reprinted here by permission.  See the original article here.


Deborah Tutnauer

Entrepreneur Business Success Coach at Deborah Tutnauer, LLC
Inspiring change in people for over 25 years, Deborah Tutnauer, MEd, MSWdigs deep to help authentic entrepreneurs move away from the stories that no longer serve them while clarifying and solidifying those that really do! Deborah helps frustrated entrepreneurs get exquisitely clear about meaning, purpose and expertise, then facilitates the creation of a financially sustainable and joyfully structured framework in which business and business people thrive.

Coaching both privately and in groups, Deborah is also a speaker, author, event leader and consultant. Creator of the Foundation and Framework Intensive, Question Master and Leader of the Entrepreneur Business Success Club, Deborah has been called an “Architect of Magical Business and Soul Structure”by her clients because she has a powerful ability to perform alchemy, changing passions and dreams into money and time by design.

Choose a Complimentary Vision Exploration for Your Business

Stay focused and in the Loop.
Subscribe to Blog Updates

Latest posts by Deborah Tutnauer (see all)

Please Share

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Plus


  1. says

    What you say is so true.


    The corporate structure doesn’t allow people to fail without fear of losing their jobs.

    And social media doesn’t allow people to fail without fear of being pilloried in the media.

    We live in a very judgemental age. And an age in which it seems that too many people are looking for opportunities to point a finger so they can blame someone. For something. So they can make themselves look important.

    Practice does make perfect. It’s a given. But I wonder how many people get 10,000 chances today to make the perfect light bulb?

    For public corporations, there are shareholders who, by law, come before anything else. Which is why companies can no longer plan to lose large amounts of money – and time – while developing the perfect product. They risk losing their impatient shareholders before their perfect product gets a chance to come to market.

    Not even Apple can any longer make mistakes. And the media pressures them for new products within a whisker of releasing their last product.

    And for a small business which may have started with the help of private investors. Who expect a return on their investment. Their window of opportunity to fail before they become perfect is also very limited.

    That all sounds very negative. And you know I’m not a negative person.

    But the reality is that to change the mindset of the entrepreneur about failure, we also have to change the mindset of the people who are involved with the entrepreneur. Which includes their family. And friends.

    When Victor and I lost everything in the Australian recession of 1992, the pressure put upon us by family and friends to be successful within a certain period of time was immense. We just didn’t cut it with them because they said – especially family – that it was taking too long. We should just ditch our dreams and go back to work for other people. It was a never ending conversation.

    We persevered because we were unemployable. No one would employ either one of us. And we also persevered because we were already at rock bottom. And would either stay there. Or go up.

    I wonder how many people who start a business today have the tenacity to withstand the negative assault from family and friends when they discover they’re not meeting the expectations of these back seat drivers?

    10,000 attempts at being successful takes much more time than one year. And I just don’t see that tolerance in today’s culture.

    But again, Deborah. You are so right. An entrepreneur needs the time. And the freedom. To make mistakes. So they can perfect their skills to make it to the top.

    Perhaps we should view a business more like a musical instrument.

    No one expects to be a proficient piano player overnight. And there are steps involved in learning to play a musical instrument before you even begin to get to the stage of playing a song. Very much like starting a business. And making it successful.

    Always love your posts. Thank you for sharing this one with us.

    ~Carol Jones, Ironing Diva
    Purveyor of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover And Other Goodies
    350,000 customers. In 29 countries.
    Carol Jones recently posted…The Lady In Red. On The School Run.My Profile

    • Reni Schulz says

      Carol, thank you for this response. I find you are soooooo right. Our culture is completely different when it comes to failing. The pressure in the corporate world is very high, just like you said to please the shareholders. Although I totally agree that we have to incorporate failure and make sure that fear of failure does not paralyze our actions.

  2. says

    Hi Deborah,

    If one wants to be an entrepreneur, one needs to know there will be failures. Call me crazy, but I embrace my failures. These are things that teach me to go forward in a different way. It is like the trial and error process.

    When I put something out there, and it doesn’t “jive” I go back to the drawing board. This mindset didn’t come easy. I did have to work on it on a subconscious level to rid myself of the critic in my mind that carried those past experiences. But once done, there is no stopping me lol.

    I find the key here is to know yourself, to clean out those cobwebs in the mind, and to gain the confidence needed to keep on going, no matter what.

    Many thanks for this wonderful article,

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Growing Your Online BusinessMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>