• Entrepreneurship

Do we need to fail in order to succeed?

Guest Blogger | March 5, 2012

Charles-A Pelletier, Enqeb (Entrepreneuriat québécois en bref), Montreal, Quebec, www.enqeb.com

Have you heard of FailCon? It is a one-day conference where participants study their own and others’ failures in order to contribute to the success of future entrepreneurs. The concept is very unique, and participants need to put their egos aside to talk about their mistakes in public!

For the benefit of other entrepreneurs, I decided to humbly share my stories, just like the FailCon participants are doing.

In one of my articles, Comment saisir une opportunité en 10 étapes, published on the site Entrepreneuriat québécois en bref (in French only), I explained that I entered the world of entrepreneurship by offering my services in music entertainment. It has been an amazing journey and if I had to do it all over again I would not change a thing. The experience taught me how to negotiate and exposed me to concepts like client relationships, liability, respect, time management and so much more.

But we learn from our mistakes…The most significant error I made with that business was failing to declare my earnings. I simply did not know I had to! Imagine my surprise when, after three successful years, I learned that I had to declare my revenues! It was a hard pill to swallow and I had to sell some valuable equipment to pay what I owed.

  • Lesson: Know the law! Ignorance is no excuse.

My next significant mistake in entrepreneurship happened with a website design business that I launched with a friend and a colleague. In fact, I make several mistakes! My colleague was the “genius” in computing, my friend was the designer and I was the manager. This adventure has been really stressful. Our first major client was a law firm. Our computing expert was talented but he lacked true interest in the project which resulted in communication and timeliness problems…

Before long, the situation became dire. Our colleague was in charge of the entire programming of the site so it was difficult to replace him. Furthermore, my limited knowledge of the field prevented me from reacting appropriately to the client’s concerns.

We finally completed the project and fired our colleague. The experience helped me allowed me understand that computing was not a field that I wanted to pursue. After this difficult journey, I decided to sell my shares to my friend and leave the business.

  • Lesson: Do not start a business without knowing the commitment level and vision of your partners; do not trust potential partners blindly; make sure you have several copies of hard-copy and electronic documents; sign a shareholder agreement and, most importantly, have a good understanding of the field/industry/sector you are working in!

Today, after numerous failures and many great lessons, I am as dedicated as ever to entrepreneurship.

These experiences I have had lead me to ask two questions:

  • Do we need to fail to succeed?
  • Would you be willing to share a personal failure and the lessons learned in order to help a future entrepreneur to succeed?