Last night, the 18th of May, the Viddyad team were lucky enough to attend the first in the founders series organised by Facebook. At around 5.30 after a busy working day we meandered over to the Facebook office for an evening dedicated to bringing the startup community together, giving them a chance to learn from each other.
The panel was moderated by Joe Morley, the director of Facebook and Instagram partnerships in EMEA. The panel of speakers was made up of six individuals who started their own business. The list includes:
John Dennehy, CEO of Zartis
Claire McHuge, CEO Axonista
John Joyce, CTO, Yvolution
Sean Blanchard, CEO PageFair
Deirdre Smith, Former CEO of Zandar technologies and Independent Director
David Coallier, CEO, Barricade
While it’s great to talk about success, it’s important to acknowledge failure, and failure is exactly what the panel focused on. Each panel member spoke candidly and openly about the failures they have faced throughout their careers. It was a diverse group with a multitude of failures, many centering around the financial pressures they felt as they tried to keep their businesses afloat, with John Joyce even admitting he had to let 15 members of staff go because they just didn’t have the money to pay them.
One of the most valuable pieces of advice came from Claire McHuge. She found herself in the position in which her company had run out of money and couldn’t meet the next payroll. She spoke about how she closed herself off from friends because they were so proud of her and what she was doing and couldn’t face telling them that she had hit a rough patch, stating that she felt like a fraud. She advised that the best way to get through the hardest times is to have somebody, who has nothing to do with your business, to talk to. They can give you a fresh perspective and maybe even make a suggestion that will get you out of a hole.
Being a business founder comes with a lot of responsibility and even more fears. The fear of failure is probably one of the biggest. But one of the takeaways from the event is to embrace the failures. This advice can work for anyone, not just business founders. Failure is inevitable in life, nobody is going to live their entire life and never experience failure, and while it may seem like your world has ended in that moment, in time, it will become a valuable learning experience. Failure is the best way we learn, it is rare that you will ever make the same mistake again. After giving yourself time to lick your wounds, take a moment to look back on what went wrong and consider what you could have done better. It’s a lot easier to put the moment in a box in the back of your head and never think about it again, but you will gain a lot more from examining the situation and knowing what not to do in the future.
Tellman Knudson gives an interesting perspective on why it seems to be so innate for humans to fear failure. All school going children are praised every day when they get the right answer, maybe they are rewarded with a gold star or simply a smiley face drawn on their work. But when they don’t get the right answer they may be scolded, they can look at the children around them with stars beside their names and hone in on the fact that they did not receive one. They become fearful of not receiving that star, fearful of failure.
Fear can be crippling for any individual and it has the potential to hold you back from what you really want or from moving forward with your career or business. Don’t fear other people’s responses to your requests or suggestions because you’re afraid they might say no. Ask yourself, what if they say yes? Think of the possibilities that could stem from you facing that fear. On the upside if you try everything and fail at it all at least you’ll have some good stories to tell the grand kids, you may even get a book deal out of it!
After the event we came to a number of conclusions. One of the most prominent being this: the sooner we embrace failure and the fears that we have, the sooner we can get things done and grow. We’ll leave you with this question, which was posted in the reception of the Dublin Facebook office. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Make a video ad for you business at viddyad.com, where you don’t have to fear the price.