Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. It requires passion, perseverance, the ability to take risks. and the very real possibility of failure. Many successful entrepreneurs have experienced setbacks and failures along the way, but they have also learned from these experiences and used them as opportunities to grow and improve.
Take Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. In 1985, Jobs was forced to resign from Apple, the company he co-founded, due to internal conflicts. He went on to start a new company, NeXT, which was not initially successful. However, he eventually returned to Apple and led the company to tremendous success, introducing revolutionary products such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Another example is J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Before becoming a bestselling author, Rowling struggled with depression and was living on welfare. She received countless rejections from publishers before finally finding success with her beloved series. Today, the Harry Potter franchise is worth billions of dollars and has inspired a devoted global fan base.
Failure is almost necessary to teach us how to succeed — what to do better next time.
Similarly, entrepreneur Jeremy Dougherty faced near failure in getting his outdoor fashion apparel company Maroon Bell Outdoor off the ground.
Eight months after investing his life’s savings into the company in 2016, he nearly lost it all. “In our first year, we got scammed by a clothing manufacturer in LA. My entire line of flannels never showed up for Christmas, which was my only product at the time,” Dougherty recalls.
Dougherty, a Denver native, envisioned an apparel brand that would solve what he believed to be a problem for outdoor enthusiasts: finding clothes that could endure the outdoors and make you look good.
He did not let his first failure brand himself or his business. Rather, he maintained focus on his vision and figured out a solution to achieve it. Here are some things he learned along the way:
Commit to a Solution, No Matter How You Feel
Considering it was his first year, it would have been easy for Dougherty to close up shop and look for another opportunity.
Instead, he committed to finding a solution to the problem. He pieced together the ideas for a new driving glove made out of buffalo leather. The inspiration came to him while jogging one day.
The Buffalo Leather Gloves became the company’s best-selling product and his story has inspired many.
Being able to overcome his initial failure convinced Dougherty that anything was possible if he could simply visualize it as so, a mindset he learned after reading the 1937 business book masterpiece, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.
The idea of envisioning every detail of the life he was hoping for sparked an interest in Dougherty that has persisted for more than a decade. He attributes much of his success as an entrepreneur to his ability to visualize his outcome.
“What I have discovered is something of a fairy tale,” Dougherty says. “I experienced what feels like magic sometimes. The missing link was comprehensive visualization. What happens when you visualize very specific details over a long period is that you essentially brainwash your mind and turn it into a reality.”
Visualizing success in a business model that you haven’t proven yet can seem foolish, but Dougherty compares it to getting a flat tire on a road trip.
“If you were driving from Colorado to California and you had a flat tire, would you stop, set up shop, and live in that space forever?” he asks.
“The answer is easy because we know that California exists. We don’t have to visualize it. Starting a company is no different except for the fact that we have to visualize the destination.”.
Dougherty attributes patience, work-life balance, and genuine partnerships to his company’s recent success.
Understand that success does not come overnight and be willing to put in the time and effort needed to see your vision come to fruition. Remain focused and persistent, even in the face of setbacks and challenges.
Prioritize your well-being and the well-being of your team. Recognize the importance of a healthy work-life balance and make an effort to create a positive and supportive work environment.
Value collaboration and partnership with your team, clients, and partners. Build strong, trusting relationships and work to create a sense of community within your organization.
Dougherty’s story demonstrates the resilience and leadership qualities necessary for entrepreneurship. It exemplifies the importance of learning from failure and persisting toward achieving one’s vision. By committing to finding solutions, visualizing success, and staying forward-facing, Dougherty overcame his initial setbacks. And, exercising patience, committing to a healthy work-life balance for all parties, and forming genuine partnerships helped him create the business he visualized. These qualities are available to any of us who has a dream they want to actualize.