Learn to Fail Fast and Often

Generally speaking, you set out on any sort of new venture or activity at least with the hope (if not the outright expectation) of success. If you figured that you were going to fail all along, you probably wouldn’t have gotten started in the first place. If you didn’t think you had at least a chance at “making it,” you wouldn’t have put in the effort. That just makes logical sense.

After all, most people have a natural aversion to failure. They gravitate toward winning and they shy away from losing. As a result, they also tend to shy away from situations, circumstances and opportunities where they probably have a high probability of losing. And that’s why most people aren’t as successful as they probably could be.

Failure Is Inevitable

The hard truth about making money online, just as much as it is true about making money offline, is that you’re probably going to fail. A lot. Your first blog post might not be read by anyone but your mother. Your first set of YouTube videos could get single-digit views. Your first affiliate campaign might not get any conversions at all.

This can be disheartening, to be sure, but you should not be deterred. We all want to win, of course. At the same time, we can’t all win all the time. That’s just a logical and probable impossibility. You will fail, so you need to learn from your losses. Reflect on what went wrong (and what went right), and then apply that newfound knowledge in your next venture.

Billions and Billions of Dollars

Perhaps one of the most incredible examples of this mentality, from a corporate perspective and not just an individual, is Google. We can all agree that Google is a remarkably successful company. Parent company Alphabet is literally worth hundreds of billions of dollars and is well on its way of becoming one of the first companies to hit a trillion dollars in market cap, alongside Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.

We look at properties like Gmail, Android, and YouTube, and it’s undeniable that Google has been very successful. AdSense and AdWords are no joke. But you also have to remember that Google has more than its share of failures too. Remember Google Buzz? Remember how they shut down Google+ too? What about Google Wave?

On some level, it pays to be stubborn when you’re in business for yourself, sticking with something when everyone says that you’re wasting your time. On another level, you need to appreciate when it’s the right time to pull the plug on a project if you’re going to keep chasing risky endeavors, just like how Google has. They’re tough choices, to be sure, but if you’re going to fail anyways, you may as well fail fast. And fail often.

Within every failure contains a lesson. Without every stumble contains an insight.

Useless Machines

And you can even use failure to your advantage.

Some time ago, I highlighted a YouTuber named Simon Giertz as part of the Sunday Snippet series on Beyond the Rhetoric. In short, she’s a self-taught inventor and what she makes are robots that are largely intended to fail. She does them for comedic effect and to learn more about robotics and electronics.

She’s wildly entertaining and her YouTube channel has done very well. In effect, she has turned her failures into a resounding success. “With my setup, it would be nearly impossible to fail,” she once said. “And that was that instead of trying to succeed, I was going to try to build things that would fail.” Simone used to suffer from terrible performance anxiety, but this YouTube venture allowed her to simply enjoy herself and have a good time. And learn a lot along the way too.

Failure Can Be Good

So, go ahead and fail. Do it often. Do it quickly. And then move on to the next thing. Failure is not your enemy. It is your ally, so long as you know how to play the game.