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May 22, 2018

Dropping The F-Bomb

C’mon.  We should at least attempt to keep it PG.

We’re talking about: FAILURE.

Earlier this year, the Miami homegrown startup success, JugoFresh, closed up shop. After 6 years of fast-paced ascent to rapid scale across South Florida, it failed.  To this day, there’s nothing that satiates the cravings for Sac-Lo shots and the go-to Alkaline Gangster juice.

In a transparent, beautifully authentic post-mortem, the former CEO and Founder took the opportunity to catalogue the then apparent reasons for Jugofresh’s failure.  (Hear Matthew Sherman live at Endeavor Miami’s Brainfood tomorrow night).  Sherman’s honest, open reflection and was quite unusual but incredibly empowering.

So this week we’re wondering, why do we keep so quiet about failure? It’s not productive and benefits no one. A few reasons come to mind:

F= Future

You’ve probably heard the saying, fail forward.  What does really mean? Being an entrepreneur is inherently risky, and the odds of failing are incredibly high.  Instead of becoming defeated at the first sign of failure, bake your setbacks and shortfalls into your business plan.  Understand the value of iteration, the art of the pivot, and the lean startup method of validated learning.  The future of your venture depends on it.

A = Advice

Only children, this point may be lost on you. But, the best thing about being in the youngest (or the middle) is things were always easier when your turn rolled around.  The punishment was lighter, teachers were more accommodating, and parents were less attentive to your shortcomings.  The same holds true in the business world. Once you’ve failed, particularly if was pretty bad, at the very least you’ve got a story to tell and some advice to give.  Consider how valuable the insights about your missteps are for those coming up behind you. Share them as often as possible.

I = id. vs. Ego

We can thank Freud for this one.  When a startup dies, or an idea can’t quite advance from concept or commercialization, we experience the psychological battle of the century. Just remember the failure is not only about you.  We tend to evaluate failure through the microcosm of our self-centered lens.  Often, failure is the result of a series of ill-placed decisions, market and environmental conditions, talent shortcomings and team dynamics, and/or a slew of other factors which play a contributory role.  Heck, Crushbase has a list of the Top 20 reason startups fail. While you ought to remain accountable for your actions, recognize that there are other characters in this story; it’s not only about you.

L = loss

Failure is like any other natural part of life– it happens.  If you’re alive today, chances are that you’ve failed at something. Even if you have to go way, way, way back to your formative years (like quitting piano before mastering Für Elise), you can point to at least one failure.  The vast majority of us have a list of failures that seems to grow exponentially as the years pass by. Mourn the loss, but don’t lose yourself in the process.  And, perhaps more importantly, understand that failure is not a permanent indictment on your capacity to succeed.

We’re ready to create space for celebrating failures of all shapes, sizes, and kinds.  Starting in June, join us for a monthly Five O’clock Failure Hour where we’ll have brew on tap and an informal gathering space to share our biggest F’Ups and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

What was your last failure?


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