How to Never Fail

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Scenario: "Dude, our product's not selling. We suck. Our business sucks. We've failed. Ahh!" Look you overreacting crazy baboon: You haven't failed. Like the overused phrase goes: You just haven't tried hard enough. The secret to kicking failure's booty: Keep on experimenting until you find that success you're seeking. (And you will.)

How People Fail

It goes a little something like this:

  1. Gem: Yo boys and girls! Let's build the next million-dollar business.
  2. B&G: Yay!
  3. Gem: Okay, we're going to build the fattest kitchen utensils in the world. Million$ here we come!
  4. Gem's team starts building in a day.
  5. Three months later -- and they still sell nothing.
  6. Gem: Okay, no one's buying. We suck.
  7. Gem: The business sucks. We've failed! Ahh!
  8. Gem goes back to his old job.

We call it the "try-once, see-result, quit" cycle that failed entrepreneurs make. At the first sign of trouble, they quit. To all you crazy people out there thinking about quitting your businesses, here's our tip: Stop! (Oh yeah.) Your badass just haven't found the way to success, yet.

How to Find Success

That Edison dude who discovered that light-bulb-thing needed thousands of experiments to make it work. The supposed world's "greatest inventor" is also its greatest failure. The difference between those who think they've failed and our man Edi lies in this statement from the awesome man himself: "I haven't failed. I've found 10000 ways that don't work." Sweet words. If "failure" ever enters your fabulous mind, just remind your badass: "I haven't experimented enough." For instance:

  • "I haven't tried other ways to market my business."
  • "I haven't tried a different selling approach."
  • "I haven't tried managing differently."
  • "I haven't tried offering a more customized edition."
  • "I haven't tried promotional offers to college students."
  • "I haven't tried hiring a consultant."

Rule of Thumb ^1:

The more you experiment, the more success you see yourself having.

"Never Give Up!" True?

To an extent. The super motivational gurus who pitch their books & audios tell you: "If you want to succeed in life, you have to be persistent! Yay! Yay! Buy my books." We find that advice too vague and super pedestrian.

  • You could be persistent selling an 8-track player, but you'll never succeed profitably with it.
  • You could be persistent selling a remote-control-flying-vacuum, but the next lawsuit will destroy your business.

Yes, persistence is good; but, know what to persist with. Be persistent with seeking success; but, accept failing approaches as a means to get there. (Think of success as the destination point; and failed approaches as giant freakin' buildings that you can't possible go through -- so your badass has to take detours to go around them.) Don't be persistent with a product if it's failing you. Be persistent however with your eventual success.

Rule of Thumb ^2:

  • Persistence with success = good.
  • Means that hold you back from that success = boo.

If your product's not selling, and you've lost hope for it, by all means: trash it. Yet, don't think (for a second, badasses!) -- to give up on that eventual success. You'll find it. (Trust us.)

How to Experiment

Unless you're some multi-billionaire's child or Paris Hilton, you have limited resources. You could spend it all on some whacked invention, and fall completely flat on your face. With debtors running after you, clients suing you, and mommas and poppas screaming at you, you won't get another chance. Remember: the more experimenting you can do, the more you boost your chances at that crazy success you're seeking. So how do you do it? Tiny experiments, of course: tiny experiments such that if you fail at it, you'd be (almost) as good as you were before. That is: you can bounce back, and start experimenting again -- and again -- and again.

Start small. Experiment. Grow big.

The minute you see one of your small experiments succeeding, your badass will seed that success even further by pouring more resources into it. That's how small experiments turn into super-crazy-good-profitable products. That "Start Small. Experiment. Grow Big." process has worked for Disney, Starbucks, Google, and the hundreds of other Fortune 500s. (And really: we think it's the only way to maintain success.) We'll leave you with this:

Finding success is like pruning a tree to make it look sexy.

The process:

  1. At first, you throw your offerings out there; initially, it looks messy.
  2. You get feedback from customers, vendors, and the markets.
  3. You start fine-tuning your offerings: dumping products/services that don't sell, investing more in others that are succeeding, and experimenting with new ones that might rock.
  4. But like a tree that keeps growing its limbs, you continue fine-tuning.
  5. The process becomes a never-ending cycle: the more you work on it, the closer you'll get to that success you're seeking.

The bulletproof way to succeed like a badass:

Experiment like a badass.


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Posted on January 16

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