mistakes'Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward' – these are the words of author John C. Maxwell and should be the mantra for all startup businesses. Anna Pino, CEO of Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre, a business accelerator that works with inventors, researchers and entrepreneurs, believes more needs to be done to teach resilience and break the stigma associated with failure in entrepreneurship.

"For anyone, not just entrepreneurs, failure is painful," says Ms Pino. "However, most of the businesses that have gone on to achieve major success will describe a journey filled with false starts, mistakes and lessons learned.

"The difference between those that pick themselves up, dust themselves off and do what has to be done very often comes down to attitude," added Ms Pino.

While you can't control everything that happens to you, you can control your attitude and be open to learning from your mistakes.

So, when you receive less than favourable feedback about your startup idea, your pitch session is a fizzer or your funding application is denied, these are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Equip yourself by understanding what makes business ideas fail - There's a lot of information about business models in books, online, at conferences and from expert advisors. When you launch a new business you're putting a lot on the line – your money, your time, your reputation and very often your relationships, so it's important to give yourself the best chance of success. Investing the time upfront to refine your idea and improve areas of weakness can save you a lot of heartache down the track. There are also online diagnostic tools like Bizlab (http://bizlab.lighthouseinnovation.com.au/) that provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your idea. Learn from these and make the necessary changes.
  2. Redefine failure and success - Think of mistakes as lessons and just like in school, you get to repeat a lesson until it's learned. Sometimes you need a painful wake-up call to learn the lesson, but you'll know you've learned it when your actions change and you see new and promising results in your business.
  3. Don't be too quick to declare a failure – keep the bigger picture in mind - One of the biggest challenges facing startups with disruptive ideas is that initially nobody gets them. Be careful not to judge a big idea a failure too quickly, look at initial rejections within the context of the bigger picture.
  4. Both success and failure are a journey - The process of business success includes planning, informed decision-making, risk management and identifying opportunities. Equally the process of failure involves ignoring the warning signs, failure to act, poor planning and insufficient risk management.
  5. Mistakes are not a permanent stain - When you're pushing the boundaries nobody gets it right the first time. Henry Ford had two business failures before he started the Ford Motor Company and J.K Rowling's Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by 12 publishing houses before it was eventually accepted.
  6. Being able to fail quickly and recover from setbacks is an important skill for entrepreneurs. Sometimes the best way to look at your business idea is as a collection of experiments – some will pan out and others won't.

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About Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre
Lighthouse has a strong track record of supporting entrepreneurs, researchers and inventers on the path from concept to commercialisation. Since July 2008, Lighthouse has worked with over 990 distinct enterprises and provided group and peer based services to over 3400 enterprises and individuals. For over five years Lighthouse has successfully delivered business advice, education, mentorship and networking opportunities to help these businesses commercialise their ideas and grow their companies. Lighthouse also delivers programs such as the ACT Microcredit Program for the ACT Government. Visit www.lighthouseinnovation.com.au for more information.

Photo:"Crossroads: Success or Failure" by www.stockmonkeys.com