Brad Feld

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Talking About Failure

Jun 23, 2006

I’ve noticed a pattern in many of the VC and entrepreneur blogs I read – very few people ever talk about failure.  

Failure is a key part of entrepreneurship.  As an entrepreneur, angel investor, and venture investor, I’ve had lots of success, but I’ve also had lots of failures.  So has everyone that I know that has accomplished much of anything.

While it’s often difficult to talk about failure, there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from it.  The cliche “I learn more from my failures than my successes” applies directly to entrepreneurship and creating companies.  It can be difficult to be self-reflective, but I’ve personally found it very cathartic to study my failures, understand what I did wrong, learn as much as I can from them, and move on.  Occasionally I’ll have a similar failure a second time or a third time – hopefully I learn eventually.

I’m going to start writing more regularly on failure.  For those of you that have been involved in failed businesses with me, I’ll be careful about confidentiality – so many of my examples and stories will have the names changed unless I feel like sharing the posts with the people involved in advance.  I’ll try not to self-censor the stories, although the “personal denial / rewrite history impulse” is a often a tough one to overcome.

I also encourage my fellow entrepreneurial and VC bloggers to talk more about failures, alongside their successes.  Entrepreneurship is really hard and the lessons come from both sides of the equation.