Finding Success in Failure

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9 out of 10 businesses fail; so I came up with a foolproof plan – create ten businesses. – Robert Kiyosaki (Click to Tweet)

Kiyosaki’s quote embodies the spirit of ensuring success. But when it comes to entrepreneurship, there’s really no foolproof way to avoid failure.

Fairly fresh off the heels of our This Car or That Car app idea validation series, the results of this project proved to be a bit of a disappointment – yielding only a 3.94% conversion rate.

But when I started to receive “condolences” from people on the experiment results, I could start to see that it was widely viewed as a failure. Although I appreciate the sentiment, I’m here to say: I don’t see it that way.


The Silver-lining of Failure

The silver-lining is that we got to move through the entire idea validation process – from beginning to end – detailing exactly what it takes to move from an idea to the marketplace for validation, before going all-in and potentially losing your shirt in the process.

This real-time experiment, and the steps contained within each entry in the series, is a solid system that works; whether we like the results or not.

The unfortunate part of this project is that it publicly displays how things don’t always work out as hoped.

But that’s part of the beauty of systematically Testing the Muse – it helps measure potential success, as well as provide a warning of potential impending failure. Gaining insight into either scenario early enough in the process is valuable, acting as an early indicator towards whether to keep going or pull back on a project.


Two Sides of the Same Coin

Success and Failure. Two of the most powerful, emotion-evoking words in the English language – both individually, and as a pair. Much like other extremely powerful relationships that seemingly appear to be polar opposite – Love and Hate or Good and Evil – Success and Failure are really only two sides of the same coin.

Neither could exist in the absence of the other.


Deconstructing Failure

There is no failure except in no longer trying. – Elbert Hubbard (Click to Tweet)

One of the most common fears is the fear of failure. It keeps people paralyzed from taking action. And yet ironically, it’s the person who hasn’t tried anything or hasn’t taken action who has truly failed.

We test, experiment and validate to see what might work, to mitigate risk. That approach in and of itself means that, by default, failure should be expected much of the time.

If the validation results of a project you’re working on do not signal positively – that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is your opportunity to avoid additional wasted time and money; that is exactly why we attempt to validate our ideas beforehand. The process itself is a hedge against future failure, by testing the waters early.

The True Failure would be to not take action in the first place (removing your ability to succeed), or giving up altogether (stifling your attempts to succeed).


Redefining Success

Success is built on the backs of many failures.

But recognize that it’s not enough to just “show up”. That’s a start, because as the saying goes “you gotta be in it, to win it”. So showing up and being there are key to moving in the right direction. But “being” is not nearly as powerful as “doing”.

Success is learning from your mistakes.

If you fear failure, you’ll be prone to stay in your comfort zone. If you don’t try, or expand your zone, you’re missing out on life’s valuable lessons. Some of which can only be taught by failing.

As the late Scott Dinsmore from Live Your Legend would often note:

If you’re learning, there is no failure. – Scott Dinsmore (Click to Tweet)

In the context of Testing the Muse, validating ideas that end up having no legs is never a waste of time or a “mistake”. The validation process can be filled with areas of weakness that can lead to less than desired results: a poor initial idea, shoddy execution, not enough homework, pursuing an already met need, little value added, etc.

The mistake would be not paying attention to the process, not seeking improvements, or worse, to avoid trying again altogether.


Letting Go of Failure

Oh man, this is a big one. Just the act of “letting go” is so difficult. Memories of past experiences – whether real or perceived, emotional or physical – can stymie even the strongest of people. Overcoming our past is really a lifelong pursuit.

From personal experience, I know this is easier said than done, but we would all benefit from being less hard on ourselves; becoming more comfortable with letting go.

This blog is as much about experimenting and confronting “failure”, as it is about seeking and celebrating “success”.

Confronting failure is to remove fear. Removing fear – by experimenting, learning and moving forward – IS success.

Naturally, the ultimate “success” we’re seeking here is a little more tangible – in the way of building businesses and products, and ultimately developing real-world sources of passive income. However, with enough perseverance and the implementation of best practices learned from previous mistakes, you can’t help but get lucky and succeed. Truly:

Luck is the residue of design. – Branch Rickey (Click to Tweet)

In the preparation of this post, I was overwhelmed with the number of amazing quotes and sayings related to the relationship between failure and success.

Apart from my ever-present request to share this post on social media, my main ask of you today is to share your favorite quote on “success” and/or “failure” on Twitter. If you do, please include me @testingthemuse.


Here to help you Test ‘til Success,

Best Always,


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