What we still need to change (in Switzerland)
Earlier this week, I talked with a journalist inviting me to a radio debate… unfortunately, this was finally postponed due to more important news. But he asked me what I think about the swiss startup ecosystem: Is it going in the right direction? Do I feel something happening? What do we still lack?
I gave him some answers but I thought deeper about it afterwards. Yes, the scene is improving and yes, we now see more and more (but still too few) serial entrepreneurs, which give back to the ecosystem (that will be a topic for another post, stay tuned!). Yes, something is happening and since I am in the startup business (a bit more than 4 years), huge progress have been made here in Switzerland.
But what the most important thing that is still missing to fill the gap to a dynamic startup scene? Many (if not every) founders will say: money, big money! Yeah, it’s true. Or experienced sales guys, able to aggressively tackle the worldwide market. True again.
But I think the time is also come to experience a change in (swiss) mentality. I don’t know if that’s really related to Switzerland, or Europa, or just tech scenes less developed than Silicon Valley, NYC, London or Berlin.
Failure acceptance is a must have to see people starting up, failing, trying again, failing again, starting again and… YES, once succeeding! Too often, a founder who fails is seen as a guy to avoid. Or at least, to be skeptics about his skills (hey, be honest, what do you think you can really learn from losers? ). In my opinion, failure can always be explained in many different ways or seen from various perspectives: but an entrepreneur has to be honest (at least with himself!) and proceeds to a critical analysis of the story. And learn about it! Even if you do everything right, there’s still a big risk you’ll fail (who said tragic? That’s just startup’s life…). You never know, you always have just a few parameters on which you can have a real influence. Don’t expect to miracles, they just are too rare. Raising big money is often seen as a metric of success: no! It’s not preventing you from failure! It’s just a good indication you have something interesting in your hands, are better positioned or smarter than your competitors AND probably that you were a bit luckier convincing investors.
I think we definitely need to try to change this general non-acceptance of failure. What’s about doing it as early as possible, at the younger age, at school? That the responsibility of everyone here (and elsewhere) to give encouragements to people in failure mode: “You’ve failed. OK, so what? Try again and harder!" I think failing is not the most important point (OK, you’ve probably lost an important amount of money and that can be really difficult to start up again), it’s what you do NEXT with this experience. For heaven’s sake, let see failure has a chance to learn something new… and to not repeating the same mistakes!
Failure and success are often really close from each other. Some ventures fall on the right side, the others no.
But what’s the problem with guys having succeess? What’s a strange question you probably think… The successful guys are often subject to jealousy and huge criticisms (“he succeeded because his father was…" - who has never heard this sarcastic criticism?). And did you already experienced the guys who are eagerly interested when things are going bad for you, but not when you’re having success? People tend to be highly jealous of success and try to bring successful guys down… to their level? Does success disturb average normal people? Because success is shading you?
One simple reason I think on is that success is rare… really rare, so you have higher probability to experience a failure.
It’s easier to destroy than to build, so people also have a natural tendency of trying to bring others down… Be pleased, celebrate others successes and go back to work: your time will come, if you’re putting enough efforts on it and are patient… but not if you’re wasting time complaining or envying others!
And what’s about turning your mind in something like: “he’s not so clever but succeeded. How can I be more successful as him?”.
As strange as it can appear, people in Switzerland (but it’s probably generic) have not only to improve their acceptance to failure, but also to develop a deep and sincere tolerance to success!
The best way avoiding failure is not doing anything. But can we really name that a success?
Just try, fail and learn… and start again… Fortune rewards the bold!