Redefining failure: key things entrepreneurs must note

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“I distinguish between the concept that “I failed” and “there was a failure.” I don’t do so to remove blame or ignore my own shortcomings, but rather to acknowledge that almost any failure is the product of both my own actions and my current life circumstances and factors. This means that I can take it less personally, and that in the future I can be sure to improve both myself and my environment to ensure I do better. Ultimately, failure is often a signal that something needs to be changed, and if someone is willing and able to confront what that change really is, they’ll be primed to do much better in the future”. Jeremy Pesner chooses to define failure from his personal perspective.

In most societies, failure defined to be the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective is interpreted negatively and sometimes becomes a real set back especially for entrepreneurs who usually try new ventures and fail.

In the startup world, 9 out of 10 startups fail, this does not mean that it is impossible to succeed and this does not also mean that, after a failed attempt one has to give up.

In his article on startup failure “90% of startups fail: Here’s what you need to know about the 10%”, Neil Patel whom the Wall street journal calls a top influencer on the web outlines some of the reasons why startups fail. Among some of the reasons he mentions the fact that, they make products that no one wants. In fact as many as 42% of them after failure identified the lack of a market need for their product  as a single biggest reason for their failure. He thinks if you are going to spend your time making products, you should also send your time making sure it’s the right product for the right market.

Some fail because they overlook many things and interpret having a strong technical team and a good product will play the trick. But this is wrong because in doing so they often undermine business processes with everyone sticking to their main role. A startup can’t segment its responsibilities because responsibilities must overlap at some point to ensure for success. In some cases, the company doesn’t grow fast enough to secure more funding and because of that, they fail. They are many more reasons why start ups fail which we will not focus on outlining in this article.

Failure has a cultural and contextual perception that undeniably plays a great role in the way people react to it. In this interview, Jeremy Pesner, an active player in Israel’s startup ecosystem and public policy shares his views about failure. He further tells us more about the challenges faced by startups in Israel.

Is there any relationship between cultural perception of failure and the dictionary definition of failure in your specific context?

Many aspects of our prevailing school and work systems are modeled on the military and the industrial age: memorizing information fed to you, teaching to tests and universal expectations for everyone, regardless of their emotional maturity, type of intelligence or goals in life. Under this model, if you fail or otherwise don’t get the right answer, you don’t fit the system, and you are rejected. If we don’t see people as unique individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses, we can never get past the distinction of “they failed” versus “they experienced failure… Read More

Jeremy Pesner is a multidisciplinary technologist, researcher and policy analyst with a Computer Science background. He has studied a wide variety of topics across technology, policy and society. He is well-practiced at aligning technological and organizational needs simultaneously, and has worked in several technology-related roles across startups, academia and government. Jeremy has spoken at venues including StartingBloc, Hackers on Planet Earth and TEDx Herndon. He is a proud member of the Jewish community, is developing his spiritual side through meditation and shamanistic practices and maintains a healthy interest and involvement with social innovation, technology startups, academic research, futurism, video games, public speaking and empowering others. You can learn more at his website:


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