When I started my business in 2008, failure was not an option.

With bills to pay and mouths to feed, my consulting business had to succeed. Failure meant losing the freedom to determine my own professional destiny. It meant going back to the cubicle and, at best, a smidgen of stock options.

failureFor many people, however, failure is a positive. It is part of the journey to success.

But does the fascination with failure make sense? Why is not succeeding seen as a positive when it is, in fact, a negative?

In a post on Forbes, Robert Asghar says “failure shouldn’t be taken lightly”. He argues that Silicon Valley’s embrace of failure is “mostly lip service, while they [startups] scramble hysterically to avoid failure at all costs.”

Asghar’s argument is refreshing because it calls into question a concept that has become part of the startup landscape. When a startup fails, it is a bump in the road rather than a major accident.

Failure means a company disappears, jobs evaporate into thin air and investors lose their money. It’s a bad thing, no matter how much experience is accumulated for the next venture.

In some respects, failure is like the emperor with no clothes. Everyone is afraid to be honest about what they are seeing because the reality is painful. As a result, it is better to put a positive spin on things to maintain the illusion of a healthy ecosystem.

It is time to embrace failure for what is represents: a lack of success.

Startups fail for many reasons, including the lack of viable business models. It is the harsh reality of creating a business given the major challenges to develop, market and sell products amid fierce competition.

In the process, entrepreneurs learn what to do and what not to avoid. They provide valuable lessons if and when they start another business. Sometimes, these lessons lead to success. Sometimes, they don’t.

But failure means an idea didn’t resonate or a product didn’t attract enough interest.

Failure should be avoided, not embraced. When a startup fails, it’s a negative, not a positive.


I helped dozens of startups plan and build marketing engines that drive more awareness, leads, and sales. There are different ways we can work together – everything from messaging and brand positioning to strategic planning and content to get customers into and through the sales funnel.

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