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The Role of Failure in Shaping Successful Entrepreneurs

Discover how failure plays a pivotal role in shaping entrepreneurs for success. Explore the lessons learned, resilience developed, and innovation sparked through embracing failure on the entrepreneurial journey

Published on: 15 May 2023 by Chetan Mittal

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The Role of Failure in Shaping Successful Entrepreneurs

Namaste, fellow entrepreneurs, dreamers, and go-getters!

Today, I want to shed some light on a topic that often remains hidden in the shadows of success stories: failure.

As an experienced entrepreneur who has stumbled and fallen time and time again, I firmly believe that failure is not only a part of the entrepreneurial journey but is synonymous with it.

In this article, I aim to convince you that embracing failure is essential to achieving true success as an entrepreneur.

Failure Fuels Growth

One of the greatest misconceptions about entrepreneurship is that success comes effortlessly. However, the reality is quite different.

Failure is the catalyst for personal and professional growth. Each setback teaches us valuable lessons that cannot be acquired through any other means.

Failure forces us to reflect, learn from our mistakes, and adapt our strategies.

It is through these failures that we gain the experience and wisdom necessary to make better decisions in the future.

Take the example of Dhirubhai Ambani, the late founder of Reliance Industries. He faced numerous obstacles and failures in his journey, but he persevered, learned from his failures, and built one of the largest conglomerates in India.

Failure Builds Resilience

Resilience is an indispensable trait for any entrepreneur.

Failure tests our resilience, pushing us to our limits and challenging us to get back up and try again.

It is in these moments of adversity that we develop a tenacious spirit, capable of weathering any storm.

Failure teaches us to persevere, keep moving forward despite setbacks, and remain steadfast in our pursuit of success.

A remarkable example is that of K. Dinesh, one of the co-founders of Infosys. In the early days of Infosys, they faced multiple failures and rejections. However, they stayed resilient, learned from their failures, and eventually built one of India's most successful IT companies.

Failure Sparks Innovation

Many groundbreaking innovations and successful businesses have emerged from the ashes of failure.

When our initial endeavors fall short, it ignites a spark within us to think outside the box, to question the status quo, and to seek alternative solutions.

Failure compels us to innovate, pivot, and adapt our strategies to meet the ever-changing demands of the market.

It fuels our creativity and forces us to explore new possibilities we may not have considered otherwise.

An inspiring example is that of Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Sanders faced countless rejections before finding success with his fried chicken recipe. His failures led him to innovate and perfect his recipe, eventually creating a global fast-food empire.

Failure Breeds Humility

Success has a tendency to inflate egos and cloud judgment, but failure humbles us. It reminds us that we are not infallible and that there is always room for improvement.

Failure teaches us to listen, seek advice, and collaborate with others. It encourages us to acknowledge our weaknesses and seek the expertise of those who can complement our skill sets.

By embracing failure, we cultivate humility, fostering an environment conducive to continuous learning and growth.

An exemple of this is Ritesh Agarwal, the founder of OYO Rooms. Agarwal faced numerous failures and rejections before successfully building OYO into a global hotel chain. His failures taught him the importance of humility and seeking guidance from mentors and industry experts.

Failure Separates the Committed from the Casual

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. It requires unwavering commitment, relentless determination, and an indomitable spirit.

Failure acts as a filter, separating those who are merely interested in the idea of success from those who are truly dedicated to achieving it. It tests our passion and reveals our true intentions.

Those who are willing to persevere in the face of failure are the ones who will ultimately succeed.

An example of an Indian entrepreneur who embodies the concept of failure separating the committed from the casual is Bhavish Aggarwal, the co-founder and CEO of Ola. Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, Aggarwal faced numerous challenges and setbacks, including fierce competition and regulatory hurdles. However, his unwavering commitment and determination to revolutionize the Indian transportation industry drove him to persevere. Despite initial failures, Aggarwal remained dedicated to his vision, pivoting his business model and continuously adapting to overcome obstacles. Today, Ola stands as one of India's leading ride-hailing platforms, showcasing Aggarwal's commitment and resilience in the face of failure.

How I implement these in my entrepreneurial journey?

  • I note down my failures: One of my mentors told me that, failure is not the end but a lesson on how to take the second step. I keep a diary where I note down my failures and analyze which mistakes led me to the failure, and then promise myself not to do these mistakes again.
  • I do not give up: If one idea didn't work out then move on to another idea. However, since 2018 I work on single idea at a single time. Read my previous issue on "how having too much on my plate made it fall and kept me hungry for long".
  • I always try to innovate: I always try to do something different or unique in my business ideas. For example - At my small chain of cafes, Kaapi Hut, we marketed and sold "South Indian Filter Coffee" in North Indian states such as Punjab where people knew coffee only means beated Nescafe.
  • I always stay modest: I am always eager to get tips from industry and business experts and to share my entrepreneurial journey with them to get that needed guidance.
  • I stay committed to my idea: I always stay up and fight with the challenges arising from day-to-day activities related to my business.


As I wrap up this newsletter issue, I hope I have convinced you that failure is an integral part of the entrepreneurial journey. It is not something to be feared or avoided but rather embraced and celebrated.

Failure is the cornerstone of growth, resilience, innovation, humility, and commitment. It is through failure that we refine our skills, redefine our strategies, and ultimately achieve our entrepreneurial dreams.

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