Entrepreneurship and Failure

10 10 2007

The prospect of starting a company or developing a product, for me, has led to a bit of soul searching. Why am I really doing this? Do I have what it takes to create something that people will actually want to pay money for? Is there a real need for my product?

I don’t have answers to either of the first two questions, but an article in a recent issue of Inc. has me thinking. The article, Mapping the Entrepreneurial Psyche, states simply that the reason people start companies is to prove themselves superior to others. Now, I don’t necessarily feel the need to prove myself — but I do enjoy a challenge. And I have experienced, as quoted from the article, “the joy of creating, of getting things done, or simply of exercising one’s energy and ingenuity.”

For me the article was an interesting introduction to Joseph Schumpeter, and I was particularly struck by his ideas on failure:

“Schumpeter held the view that failure was a phase through which nearly all people must pass on the way to success. The ability to take a punch, and then get up off the canvas to win the fight was, he thought, one of the defining characteristics of entrepreneurs”

I experienced a sort of failure a few months ago in regards to ClimbPoint wall management software. As I alluded to in the recap of my trip to Boulder for the CWA Summit, I had the opportunity to send a demo version of my software to a climbing wall manufacturer after the conference. They were interested in reviewing the software so that they could, at some point, begin offering the software to new climbing wall customers.

I was excited to have someone else review my software, so we signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (thanks Nolo) and I sent them a copy. The feedback that I received was mixed. The software seemed too simple, and it was lacking in the area of reporting features. The idea was good, they said, but it needed some refinement.

At first this news was devastating for me. Someone (gasp) didn’t like what I was doing! But that’s not entirely true — they said it was a great idea (why else would they have wanted to try it out), and I got some really good feedback out of the deal.

I’m keeping this experience in mind as I begin to ask others to be a part of the ClimbPoint Beta testing program…I’m keeping things hush hush right now (partially because I don’t have time to post it all) but hope to let you in on my master plan very soon. Stay tuned…

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2 responses

11 10 2007
Bob Myers

I recently listened to a podcast by Rick Warren. He revealed that he listens to critics much more thoroughly than he does to those that agree with him or seem to like “everything” he does. It is the critics that give him the necessary information to reach more people, to meet more needs. The critique must be sifted carfully as some of it may not be helpful, but more times than not it contains a gem that would add value to his project. It does require a sort of mental reframing as most of us seemed to have learned to ignore or discount unflattering information.

17 10 2007
Bob Myers

I recently listened to a podcast by Rick Warren. It was interesting in that he stated he listened much more intently to criticism than to praise and pats on the back. For when he carefully searched the negative comments he often found insightful ways to improve his presentation, strenthen his programs, and be of greater service to his listeners. I guess we need to take the critiques out of the personal realm, virtually studing them as critiques on anothers creation, in order to reframe them into suggestions. At least that is what I believe I would have to do. RE-FRAME away Bearman.

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