9 Things You Learn Only After Failing

Everybody fails. From Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to the small-business owner at your corner store, enduring failure is simply a fact of life for all entrepreneurs. The thing that separates the best founders from their peers is the ability to learn from that failure.

In a recently posted Reddit thread on the r/entrepreneur subreddit, dozens of users shared their perspectives on key lessons that can only be learned after failing. Here are some of the best takes about wisdom gained from failure:

1. Don’t forget to focus on sales.

You can create an essential product that revolutionizes your industry, but it won’t make a bit of difference if nobody knows about it. While focusing on the quality of your product is important, sales and marketing are essential to getting the word out about your business. “It’s not 90 percent product and 10 percent sales,” one redditor writes. “It’s mostly dirty.”

2. Learn to spot signs of toxic personalities.

When selecting a business partner and hiring employees, make sure you don’t get suckered in by, as one redditor calls them, “narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths.” Toxic personalities can have a catastrophic impact on your business if not dealt with quickly. To spot the signs, look out for a lack of empathy for others and the use of intelligence or charm to manipulate peers.

3. Go with your gut.

Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own path if you have an idea you believe in. The “this is the way it’s always been done” mentality can lead to creative stagnation. Just because something has only ever been done one way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Experiment with new ideas and business models, as you never know when you may hit upon something brilliant. “Sometimes everyone in your industry is doing it wrong,” one redditor writes.

4. Take feedback seriously.

It can be demoralizing to receive negative feedback on a product or service you’ve poured your passion into, but don’t ignore it. While going with your gut is important, leading with solid evidence rather than emotion is just as key. “Don’t half-ass product feedback,” one redditor writes. “My first couple apps failed because I didn’t listen to my users.”

5. Solve the problem, and then create the product.

The success of your business depends on your ability to solve a specific problem using the product or service you’ve developed. Make sure that you’ve truly found a way to solve the problem you’re addressing before you begin creating the product and looking for funding.

6. Understand your service providers.

Your business will likely need to rely on third-party service providers, be it e-commerce, web services, or marketing solutions. Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of every service provider you work with before signing a contract.

7. Learn how to say no.

When starting your business, it can be tempting to accept any work offer that comes your way, but don’t make deals to provide services outside of your expertise just to land some quick cash. Stick to the areas where you know you’re strong, and focus on them.

8. Prioritize co-founder relationships.

As one redditor puts it, “co-founders need more effort, care, and caution than marriage.” While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it is absolutely vital that you and your co-founder are always on the same page. Presenting a united front to your employees, investors, and clients will do wonders for your reputation.

9. Learn to delegate.

As your business begins to grow, your schedule will become increasingly more complicated to keep track of. Work on training your employees to take on more senior-level tasks. It will save you time and brainpower and will show your employees that you trust them. “It feels great knowing I’m paying my employees VERY well and I trust them to do a great job,” says one redditor.

Remember these words of wisdom the next time a deal doesn’t go your way or you experience setbacks trying to grow your business. As Star Wars’ Yoda once said, “The greatest teacher, failure is.”

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