I was being interviewed the other day for a social entrepreneurship TV show and the host asked me for my biggest piece of advice for founders of new social enterprises.
I told her this: prepare for the emotional roller coaster.
I heard this advice a year earlier when I interviewed Luni Libes for Rank & File magazine and it has really gotten me through a lot of hard times.
Luni runs an accelerator program in Seattle for conscious companies called Fledge, and has mentored dozens of social entrepreneurs. Luni and some of the past graduates of his Fledge program provided me with a really practical way to look at the entrepreneur emotional roller coaster. Luni said that,
“There is a great lesson in entrepreneurship which shows that no company that has ever succeeded has done so on plan A.” He told me that “our ideas may not completely fail, but it will not work as expected.”
This is so true. Rank & File’s plan A didn’t work as I expected. And its plan B is already shifting into a plan C. Between each pivot, I fought the feeling of failure, but now I realize that this is just part of what entrepreneurship is all about. It’s riding the emotional roller coaster of testing, learning and shifting. And it’s a crazy ride!
I asked Tom Osborn, one of the graduates of the Fledge Program, about “failing” and he gave some additional insights. He told me,
“The biggest lesson that I learned is failing fast. When I started Fledge, I was really scared at failing at anything. But Luni sort of helped me understand that it was ok to fail. The main thing is making sure that you fail fast and you fail quickly and you are able to pick up yourself once you fail, because failing is part of it.”
Some people hate the word failure, but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. When we set out to start a purpose-driven company, unknown outcomes along the way are part of it. These are the experience that leads us to test and learn. It makes us go from plan A, to plan B and onto plan C, D, E, F and G!
So let’s not be fearful. Let’s not be scared that we will make a mistake — because we will. And it will lead us to amazing creativity, innovations and social impact.
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one”
— Elbert Hubbard
Keep good. Keep giving.
P.S. Click here to read my entire interview with Luni Libes, and to hear audio from Tom Osborn and other graduates of the Fledge Conscious Company Accelerator on testing, failing and planning for “plan B.”