Most people are scared of failure. They think failure is symbolic of loss, non-success and disaster. I submit that it is the opposite of that – rather failure symbolises growth. It opens you up to learning, which opens you up to success. The earlier you fail, the earlier you learn, grow and get one step closer to your goal.
It’s this fail-fast mentality which has helped me succeed in the market. Not only do I embrace failure, but I tell everyone around me to do the same. Failure breeds agility as we move forward and allows a business to grow. I have applied this disruptive way of thinking to Finder, many times over.
One key example f this is when we opened our first office in New York City. I remember walking into our office, which was in Chinatown, Manhattan, and telling the crew it’s okay to make mistakes “In fact, I want you to go out and make mistakes”, I said.
This premise liberated the crew to try new things, learn and grow. Go bigger. Go for something scary and be extraordinary. This allowed us to quickly learn from our mistakes and devise with a plan that helped us enter a new market. As our agility and resilience grew we could launch products and go live faster.
In the context of fintech, this mentality can allow entrepreneurs to create innovative products which can disrupt the market. How? Fintechs are at the core of innovation like I’ve said before innovation requires disruption. Disruption requires you to test ideas and where to learn from them. In this process, failure is a key part. If innovators are constantly worried about failure, they wouldn’t be able to create disruptive products.
A key example of this is when we got penalised by Google and ack then, it was the Wild West of the Internet. What was “grey hat” in those days is now “black hat” and what was “black hat” no one would ever touch any more – we were doing some of the grey stuff.
The Google penalty caused us to lose about 80 per cent of our traffic overnight. At that moment we had a choice: learn from our mistake and try again, or shut down. We chose to hustle. We cut loads of old content, replaced them with high-quality guides and articles, and in three months we were back on top. This failure taught me the importance of building something that lasts and if we hadn’t failed early on, Finder never would have survived.
That was in 2011. More recently, I was faced with the dilemma of ensuring Finder stayed relevant as the market evolved. The Finder app was our answer. Over the past one-and-a-half years, we have worked on creating this product. As we developed it, we tested it with a small group of participants to see the scope for growth. We analyzed what we were doing well and what needed to be improved. This process taught us a lot and allowed us to get an app live which helps people to better manage their finances as computer web pages begin to become obsolete.
Even though the app is live, it doesn’t mean we’re done. We are constantly improving the app and building on iterations. We learn from our mistakes and grow and in essence, this is what the fail-fast mentality embodies. I believe that if you don’t fail, you’re not challenging yourself and in honesty, you’re not trying hard enough. So, I challenge you to try your hardest, fail a few times and start again. Your business will thank you for it quicker than you think.
The current fintech space is saturated. Every day new startups emerge which create disruptive products that aren’t afraid to fail. Whether you are a mature business or in the early days you need to start accepting the importance of failure.
Why? As an entrepreneur, if you want toe relevant not just in a year but in 10 years, or 100 years, you need to create a space which embraces failure. It is key to have measures in place to mitigate risk, but also challenge the status quo by constantly reinventing what you do. This agile mentality of not being complacent and afraid of failure, allows tech companies to create products which are disruptive and unique that can create or dissipate markets.
Silicon Valley companies thrive because they have embraced disruptive innovation, which allows them to be leaders in their space. Entrepreneurs around the globe need to embrace this culture and create products that can change lives. This is the key to success.