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If at first you don’t succeed… you might be an entrepreneur.

Thom Ruhe, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Kauffman Foundation

First calling entrepreneurs lazy, and now saying they’re failures, too?  We seem to be going down a dangerous path of late on this blog.  But the notion of “The Acceptance of Failure as a Spur to Innovation,” isn’t something of my creation – it’s Craigslist founder Craig Newmark’s.

In a recent piece for the (online home of the San Francisco Chronicle) Newmark observes that “widespread innovation and success requires the acceptance of failure, and then a readiness to move on.”  Granted, he’s talking specifically about the attitude in Silicon Valley, but the theory holds water – many successful entrepreneurial endeavors are built upon the ruins of several unsuccessful ones.

To paraphrase an old quote from Thomas Edison, “"I have not failed 1,000 times.  I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb."  The idea being: you’re allowed to, encouraged to, and in some circles EXPECTED to fail along your path to success as an inventor, innovator and/or entrepreneur, couched by the fact that you’re also expected to have that “readiness to move on.”  “There's some expectation of failure and the expectation that you'll get over it,” writes Newmark.

While I don’t necessarily think you need to have a catastrophic disaster under your belt before you can become a runaway success, being able to learn from any small mistakes/failures along the way is an invaluable ability for entrepreneurs to possess.

What do you think?  Any spectacular failures early in your career that have lead you to success later on?  Anyone think that the scarlet letter of failure is sometimes too much for en entrepreneur to overcome?  Let me know what you think in the comments.

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