This blog is an extract from an article Phil written for the FounderCatyst's blog.
Failure is not to be feared. We should seek failure because it gets us closer to success.
When we fail, we learn, and we can improve. When we fail, it is because we have tried something and found it lacking. If we do not open up our ideas and decisions to failure, we are burying our head in the sand, waiting until the inevitable happens.
Instead, we test early and often. Getting failure out of the way before we have committed effort, and it is easy to correct course.
Often we protect our ideas from failure. They are supported by research and theory but not held up to the real world to prove themselves. Inevitably these ideas burst into the world full of promise only to trip and fall immediately, all too late to do anything about it.
One of our early-stage startup clients had a very clear concept. There was a known need (they were from the industry), and they were clear on the solution. The first thing we did with them was to subject this to the possibility of failure. We validated the strategy with real customers and gathered new insights. We found that although a need existed, it was not strong enough to support a business. If they had held lovingly onto their preconceived ideas, they would have sunk a large amount of money into a white elephant. Instead, we found evidence of a bigger and better opportunity—something that allows them to realise their vision but with a more robust strategy. It is to their immense credit that they have embraced this change wholeheartedly.
How could you embrace the opportunity for failure quickly? Have you stress-tested your concept? Have you gathered evidence that supports your plans? Have you tested the solution with people? Simple things like sketching prototypes can be invaluable learning opportunities that are really easy to try.