Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Which is Worse: Making a Mistake or Losing an Opportunity?

What a great thought: how people approach failure is a key to success. That comes straight from Why Failure Drives Innovation, an article by Baba Shiv, Professor of Marketing, published in the Stanford Graduate School of Business news page. Consider this:

“Failure” is a dreaded concept for most business people. But failure can actually be a huge engine of innovation for an individual or an organization. The trick lies in approaching it with the right attitude and harnessing it as a blessing, not a curse.

In his article, Prof. Shiv pits fear of making mistakes against fear of losing opportunities.

He says most individuals, managers and corporations live with fear of making mistakes:

In this mindset, to fail is shameful and painful. Because the brain becomes very risk averse under this line of thinking, innovation is generally nothing more than incremental. You don’t get off-the-charts results.

The entrepreneur, however, is more worries about losing out on opportunities:

Places like Silicon Valley are full of type 2s. What is shameful to these people is sitting on the sidelines while someone else runs away with a great idea. Failure is not bad; it can actually be exciting. From so-called “failures” emerge those valuable gold nuggets — the “aha!” moments of insight that guide you toward your next innovation.

I like that a lot. I’ve written often that one of the most important traits for entrepreneurs is being able to live with mistakes. This makes perfect sense to me.