Why FAILING Is Critical To Your Success As an Entrepreneur

Last Update: April 30, 2018

Many people fear they will fail in their endeavour to build a profitable online business.

This same fear leads people to overthink things, to the point they do not take any action at all. Or if they do take action, they stop somewhere along the way, out of fear they'll just end up failing down the road.

It sucks and it's 100% unnecessary, and avoidable.

So I really want to address this today.

Head on.

By the time you finish reading this post, you will understand that failing is not only normal, but that it is CRITICAL to your success. In fact, it's something you actually want to welcome as you build out your business.

Let me explain...

The "Norm" vs Entrepreneurship

Before we get into how you can overcome a fear of failing, let's consider the cause. After all, if you don't know why this fear is holding you back in the first place, how can you overcome it?

And the best way to understand this fear and why it exists, is to look at how most people view failure versus how entrepreneurs view failure.

Most People Believe Failing is a BAD Thing

Most people believe that failing is a bad thing, and spend most of their life trying to avoid it. When you consider how most of use grew up, this makes perfect sense too.

From a young age we go to school, so we can learn how to become valued members of society. Regardless of which school you attend, or how you attend, this is the common goal.

I think we can all agree on this.

During our time at school we are graded on how well we are doing, primarily through exams and assignments. The most successful students are almost always those who bury their head in the books and study hard.

After all, the more you learn, the better you will perform.

Equally important to 'performing better' though, is how studying harder means you are a LOT less likely to FAIL come exam time.

Makes perfect sense, right?

So most people, from a very early age, learn to actively avoid and even fear failing.

This only heightens as we move into college too. Exams at a university level literally make or break the rest of your professional career. Which directly affects the rest of your life and how successful you become.

It's a BIG deal, so there's a lot of pressure to avoid failing.

All that study, sacrifice, and hard work is just as much about 'doing well' as it is about avoiding failure.

So without a doubt, failing is seen by many people as a bad thing. From young to young at heart.

Which is why many people do everything in their power to avoid it.

Now let's contrast this with being an entrepreneur. Because this is where you will see how, as an entrepreneur, you need to view failing in a completely different light. At least, if you want to succeed.

Entrepreneurship Is About Failing Forward >>>

Believe it or not, a big part of being an entrepreneur is about failing.

Specifically, failing forward.

Without any exaggeration- if you are not willing to accept failing as part of your journey, then you are headed for disaster as an entrepreneur.

It really is THAT big of a deal.

But why?

Because no person is perfect, no business is perfect, no niche is perfect, no platform is perfect. NOTHING is perfect. Period.

So mistakes WILL be made.

And that's OK.

Because without making mistakes you simply will not learn. It's impossible. Which is why 'failing' is so important.

Here's the process of 'failing forward' to show you what I mean:

Learn => take action => succeed or fail => repeat

This IS the learning process so you need to get comfortable with it.

And believe me, I've had my fair share of failures along my journey and I fully expect that I will fail at stuff right up until the day I leave this earth. Because that is life. I would rather try and fail, so that I have a chance to learn and do better, to grow and develop my skills, than to not try out of fear of failing.

There are MANY examples I could give of how I've 'failed' at stuff too.

Here's some examples...

  • The first site I ever built sucked (really). I had no idea what I was doing, but I did my best. And it led me to earning my first ever Amazon commission
  • When I first started writing content it was terrible, maybe even embarrassing lol- now I write better articles that people enjoy at a much higher rate
  • Despite a lot of effort, I got very little traffic on my sites in the first few months- but I stuck at it, and now I get tons of quality traffic to my sites each and every month
  • It took me 3 months of "failing" and making mistakes before I made so much as ONE dollar online- fast forward a lot of 'hits and misses' later, and now I earn a living this way!

So if you're reading this as a newbie, and you want to succeed, then know that the biggest difference between you and I is that I've been failing forward for longer.

That's it.

I can say with ABSOLUTE confidence that if I didn't fail at stuff along the road, I would simply not be here today. I'd be taking the 'safe' route and working my sucky old job that made me miserable.

Here are some other examples to reinforce what I am saying here.

Ask yourself the following...

Did Michael Jordan walk out onto the court starting as a Pro? No. Chances are he could barely dribble the ball properly at first! But through practice he went on to become one of the greatest basketball players in history.

Did Warren Buffet start out as one of the most successful investors of all time? No. No doubt he has placed a LOT of bad trades, and made some dumb investment choices in his time, to get where he is now.

Did Kyle and Carson start Wealthy Affiliate as an amazing platform with millions of members and all the great tools, training and support we now have? No. It started out as a simple site where they sold keyword lists to people. They developed WA into what it is now through years of experience, trial and error, mistakes and successes. All of which they learned from and used to create what we now have- an epic platform that no other platform comes even close to rivalling (in my humble opinion).

Did ANYONE here who is successful start by choosing the perfect niche, finding the best keywords, writing the best content, and crushing it with the highest conversion rates? Did they start out as experts who dominate within their respective niche? Not a chance. They started out making lots of mistakes while they developed their skill set. They started out failing at stuff, and learning as they went along, so they could improve their business and get to where they are now.

So if you take nothing else away from this article- know that failing is absolutely critical to your success.

Not important... CRITICAL.

You will make mistakes, and you will fail at times. But you will NEVER ultimately fail as long as you never give up.

I would go as far as to say that success is inevitable for those who simply do not quit.


Understanding that failing is part of your journey, and that this is actually a good thing (as long as you learn and move forward) is key.

So yes, there will be challenges. And yes, you will make mistakes and fail at things along the way. But this is a GOOD thing and it's how you will develop into becoming a successful online entrepreneur.

So get comfortable with it. Matter of fact, make it happen at a faster rate!

Because the quicker you get through the process of failing forward, the quicker you will start achieving your goals.

You have (literally) everything you need here at WA. So get stuck into the training, take massive action, ask lots of questions. And most of all- NEVER give up.

If you do this, then you DO have what it takes, and you will succeed.

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ToLiNoLi Premium
From what you write I can only confirm.

After years of good experience in the ecommerce, but that is a tough market as well, I decided to go into a different direction and build my own website.

My first website, it was a nice looking website, but I had no idea how to use all those tools out there, nor what else to do, I had visitors from all over the world, but just a couple every day and nothing else, no interaction, some emails came in to ask for help to identify a teddy bear. So this website was a pure cost pit, without getting any revenues out of it.

My website was about teddy bears. In the future I have foreseen a function for this side. But for now I put it on hold, why?

I landed here in Wealthy Affiliate and made a 180 degree turn and now I am building something else and implement all the teachings you learn here.

Now it all starts making sense. And there is no better place as WA after I did a long search and looked into many programs, most of them were expensive without bringing you what you really need.

Now I am on a different path, surely I will find obstacles and failures too, but I won't give up to realize my dream and do what I love most, writing and teaching people in an entertained way.

I am excited to see how it all will flourish with the time to come.

Thank you for this great article Tim.

Stefan, ToLiNoLi
TimMcKinlay Premium
Thanks for sharing, Stefan, and all the best!
ThomasTay Premium
Great article. You point out the most critical part of people main concern - Does Affiliate Marketing work and enable us to learn great income? This is the doubt that stop people from doing it and causes doubt in our mind and make us hesitate to move forward day after day.
You are absolutely right. We must stop doubting and instead, action and do everything possible to make it work. This is the true formula of success.
TimMcKinlay Premium
Good point. Yeah I think a lot of folks doubt the potential of affiliate marketing (or making money online in general) until they make their first dollar. It's understandable and I think we've all been there to some extent.

Anyways thanks for sharing Thomas and all the best going forward!
EMbala Premium
Wow! I am speechless because you speak from so much wisdom. It is encouraging to hear from someone with experience. Failing is critical because that's the breakthrough point. In fact when we were all children and learning how to walk, our parents kept cheering us until we grew confident. Fear is a liar. I am glad our parents never stopped us from trying to walk. I am also glad to be in this journey with a community of people who love and respect each other. Thank you for this inspirational blog
TimMcKinlay Premium
Glad you enjoyed the post Eugenie, and appreciate your comment :)
marmar463 Premium
What an awesome post, I never thought of looking at failing like this before. I believe we were all taught that failing is bad like you said in this article. I believe we all have to be retrained in believing that failing is a good thing because we can learn from our mistakes that way. Thank you for taking the time to explain this to us and now I have a different outlook on this subject of failing.
TimMcKinlay Premium
Exactly, learning from our mistakes is key to growing your skillset and achieving your goals. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for commenting! Cheers
marmar463 Premium
You are very welcome and again I enjoyed the article.
Nickoy Premium
Hey Tim. Thanks much for sharing this article. I have learned from this article that I should start practicing looking at my failures as opportunities to learn something new. I will start encouraging myself that failing forward should be used as an opportunity to improve oneself and become stronger than before.
Thanks again for the inspiring article.
TimMcKinlay Premium
Sounds good and glad you found the article helpful!
stay focused Premium
Hi Tim,
just read your article. I can see alot of me in there. I knew right
off the bat, this was going to be very challeging and at times,frustrating as well. But, like you keep saying, to not Give Up!
Quitting is easy. Challeging yourself while, being patient and focused, will evetually lead to Success.
Thank you, James.
TimMcKinlay Premium
Spot on James, and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us :) Cheers
Defiant6 Premium
True failure is quitting. You'll have stumbling blocks along the way of creating a successful business and those stumbling blocks will cause you to fall at times. The question becomes, will you stay on the ground or pick yourself back up determined to learn from your mistakes or what didn't work the first time and move forward?
TimMcKinlay Premium
For sure. I guess it's like the old saying- it's not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up that counts.
rosetteNtozi Premium
Man, this is very powerful ! I guest I was not ready for this but it make a lot of sense. yes I always fear to fail at what I wanted to do, unless I am sure I won't fail. . but after reading this, my mind is bubbling right now. Thank you for opening my understanding.
TimMcKinlay Premium
You're very welcome, Rosette! I think when we accept the fact that we will all make mistakes, it does take a lot of pressure off ourselves. And allows us to push forward regardless, knowing we will learn a lot and achieve our goals in due course.

Thanks for dropping by and wishing you the very best of success!
BChery Premium
Hi Tim, really great post .Keep doing what you're doing or do it better. You helped me so much,first found you on google leading me at WA, and second and not last you wrote this post. I have my site for almost 3 months now,no post, nothing yet because I have so many excuses either my writing is not good enough or my niche but never tried to write. I have wasted 3 months,but it's clear now.
Thank you for writing this.
janbey Premium
Hi Bellille,
Nice post to Tim, full of honesty to yourself. well done for sharing it and getting it off your chest.
Don't spend anymore time on your regret at the loss of time spent working on building your dream, just get on and do it from now.

We shouldn’t look backwards for very long. We need to keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things and always learning from the failures we suffer, take the positives then move forward again.

Forget using your excuses and get writing Bellille. Even if you only write a little, you have made a start to move forward from. Remember the quote from Lao Tzu :-
"a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Go for it. good luck
TimMcKinlay Premium
Hi Bellille,

Awesome. So glad you are committing to taking massive action on your business going forward, that's what it's all about. The more you immerse yourself in the training and in building out your business, the more you will learn and the better results you will see.

You don't have to be a fancy writer either. The most important thing is to just try to help your audience within a given post, so you can definitely do this.

Here's a video you might find helpful too: Kyle really walks you through the path to writing good content in the most efficient way possible. So it's a good resource. And the more you do this the better you will get at it. It's just practice is all.

Anyways, glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for commenting.

janbey Premium
Hi Tim, Great post, really well written. We all need failure in our lives to learn from and push forward. Failure should be the prime mover in reaching your Goals.

Here's an Inspirational Question for everyone. Can failure really help you reach the top? : -

Have a go at this little Quiz.. I think the 5 people below adequately cover the sentenments of Tim's Post.

Would any of you be inspired by these absolute failures?

Read the next 5 passages, and try to guess who they are (without Referencing or Googling) have a guess at each one, then go to:- .

1. Almost unbelievably, he was fired from the very company he began in a garage. The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. He said “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from that job was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,”. Which person was this?

2. 5 years after failing in business, he suffered a nervous breakdown, a year after that he was defeated in his run for high office. He was no stranger to rejection and failure, but rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.
In this great man’s words: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
Who was this no stranger to failure?

3. During a Harvard commencement speech she outlined the importance and value of failure. Why? …....Simply because she was once a failure too. A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words, “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Country, without being homeless I was the biggest failure I knew.” Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success. Who is this big failure..... a truly remarkable lady?

4. It would be an easy misconception that his particular skills revolved around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years coaches had trouble looking past the fact that he didn’t reach the minimum height requirement. He said “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we all know today. Is this guy a washed up no good failure or really a fantastic star and motivator?

5. He dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army. One of his earlier ventures, was Laugh-o-Gram it went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Newspaper for “not being creative enough.” Basically he kept failing but he was always learning from those failures and moving forward. Is this person a totally failed businessman.

For the answers go to:- ..
TimMcKinlay Premium
Hi Adrian and Verity :)

Thanks for commenting and sharing such a thoughtful post! I went through each of these, some I did have to Google though lol.

Great comment and post, wishing you the best of success going forward.

JudsonH1 Premium
Great article Tim and incredibley encouraging to press forward. The fear of failure and over thinking holds many people back to even make the steps to go forward. I think we all have our battle stories on this journey as we move forward. No reason to beat yourself up mentally but let it be your teacher to improve. This is the normal process as you put it to improve your craft in this arena to produce an on line business.
TimMcKinlay Premium
Very well said, Judson. I think we've all let that fear hold us back at some point, but the more action you take, the more mistakes you make, the more successes you see, the more you learn and the better results you get. This is why taking massive action is so important. Thanks for commenting! Cheers
jetrbby80316 Premium
Wonderful article Tim, and your timing is excellent!
Your thoughts here are very related to the article I came out with 4 days ago.

Feel free to give it read and make a comment:
TimMcKinlay Premium
Awesome Kaju, thanks for sharing! Looks like a great article I will check it out in more detail when I get a chance. Cheers
jetrbby80316 Premium
Thanks Tim!
Memorylaneuk Premium
A hugely inspiring post. It is something I have always believed and acted upon. It obviously rubbed off on at least one of my children. He’s 21 and during a conversation about him starting his new business he said “ I can’t lose, I will either win or learn”
That boy will go far.
Thanks for sharing this post.
With Grace and Gratitude
TimMcKinlay Premium
Glad you enjoyed the post Karen, and thanks for sharing. Your son sounds like a smart guy to be thinking this way so early on, no doubt having a great Mum was a big part of that :) Cheers