Success Largely a Matter of Hanging on After Others Have Let Go

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By Mara Lewis (Co-Founder & CEO, stopped.at) Entrepreneurs often get asked how many times they’ve failed. It's a typical question in Silicon Valley and one that most of us answer by listing how many startups we’ve built (and how many startups we’ve buried). Failed startups are like entrepreneurial battle scars. The more you fail, the more bad ass you come across... but the real question we should be asking is –- how long did you keep trying before you gave up?

It’s easy to engineer a prototype, test the market potential, and if it doesn’t get above the noise in the first few months -– move onto the next idea. The goal is to fail fast and fail often. Like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. But failure is likely to be the norm when we are expecting instant results right out the gate, especially in Silicon Valley, where things move at an unnaturally accelerated pace. You hear about companies that get a million users overnight, and when the same doesn’t happen to your startup, you think you’ve failed or even worse -- misappropriated the market need. So what do you do? Cut your losses, add a notch to your failure bed post, register a new domain name, and start in on your next company. In Silicon Valley this is common practice. And it’s also why 99% of startups fail -– because the founders give up.

Starting a company is not for the faint of heart. There is no stability, no guarantee, and no reward for doing the best you can. The more disruptive your scope of vision, the fewer roadmaps there are to guide you and the harder you have to work to lay the groundwork. Along the way there are thousands of reasons to give up -- the competition is too stiff, the investors aren’t biting, and your bank account is dry. However these are normal challenges that can be overcome with persistence, adaptation, and focus. There is a difference between beating a dead horse and getting kicked in the stomach by a wild stallion. If what you are doing isn’t working, figure out why, and change your course. It’s the second you hang up the saddle that you’ve failed. Until then –- giddy up (and hold on tight).

This post was originally posted at #EpicFails of Mara Lewis.

Photo credit: Jim Everett / Fightwireimages.com

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Mara Lewis is the Co-Founder and CEO of stopped.at, a startup that is changing the way we share and discover websites. Mara is committed to creating better visibility in the online space by bringing the concept of Foursquare, and location-based sharing, to the internet. Websites can get the free Check In Widget and users can add the Check In Button to their browser bookmark bar here. Prior to stopped.at, Mara co-founded SpeedFeedLive. Follow her on Twitter at @melewis18.