We’ve all heard those stories of how some lucky person “stumbles” upon a brilliant business idea, builds a business around it, and is a seemingly instantaneous huge success. I know that I’ve been awed [and a little] jealous of those entrepreneurs who seem to have just the right combination of brains, intuition, innovation, and lucky sauce. They make being a successful entrepreneur look so easy, but it never seems to work out that way for the rest of us. I think that’s why an article written by Adi Robertson for The Verge resonated with me so much.
Whenever anyone mentions the name “Google“, most people think of the globally-recognized search engine giant. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Google is successful, but what most people don’t know is the story behind one of Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin, and how he found failure before his gig with Google.
In the video embedded in the article, you can listen as Brin recounts the tale of how he tried to start up a company that allowed customers to order pizza by fax. It was the ultimate failure. Only half of the system they built to order pizzas worked, he laughs as he recalls that the pizza companies they tried to launch the product with failed to check their fax machines, and thus didn’t make the orders.
While I’m not trying to diss one of the co-founders of the biggest Internet companies today, I think it’s good to hear about the failures of later-successful entrepreneurs. It puts failure into perspective for what it is: a tool that can be used to learn so that your next venture goes better. It is not the end-all, life-is-over, end-of-the-story blow that a lot of entrepreneurs fear that it is, and failing at one thing does not mean that you will fail at the next thing you try. If you stopped Brin’s story after the failed pizza ordering attempt, sure, he would look like a failure. But instead of giving up and letting that define him, he kept trying and today people define him as a huge success as one of the founders of a search empire. And now that story is something that can be recalled with humor, since he was able to learn from it and use it as a catalyst on his journey as an entrepreneur.
So don’t give up. Don’t let a past or current failure define you. Keep pushing, learning, and trying. One day you might “stumble” across the right idea and have just the right combination of brains, intuition, innovation, and lucky sauce. But more likely, hard work and the right attitude will get you where you want to be.