Failure is inevitable. We could minimize the loss resulting from a failure; alter our attitudes towards a failure, but never to avoid failure. The old adage “grief is far too an important emotion to waste” is applicable to this notion (Corbett, Neck and DeTienne, 2007). In other words, failure is far too expensive to waste. It could be very stressful, but it is an important element to businesses. Accepting mistakes and failures may create negative immediate impacts to businesses, yet results in positive and productive learning outcomes in long-term. “Crucially, both positive and negative experiences, such as notable successes and failures, are seen to impact on the entrepreneurial learning process” (Minniti & Bygrave, 2001; Reuber & Fischer, 1999).
“Entrepreneurship is a process of learning and a theory of entrepreneurship requires a theory of learning” (Minniti and Bygrave, 2001:7). In Bootstrapping Challenge, we encountered several failures, which allowed us to reflect and learn. First of all, we spent too much time on planning instead of actually implementing any actions. We ran out of time to promote and gather resources such as the participants. Thus, we realize that the reality could be highly deviated from what we anticipated.
Secondly, on the day of our event, the FIFA tournament, we set a 1-pound entry, a 10-pound cash prize for the winner and expected 15 participants in total to break-even. However, we had a lower participating rate than expected, where we thus adjusted the nature of the activity to a “play as you like” one and eliminated the need of the cash prize.
Thirdly, since there are two monitors at the bar, we planned to connect one for FIFA and the other one for Mario Kart. However, we failed to connect the screen for Mario Kart due to technical problems and we cancelled it and just simply focused on FIFA. The main issues arose would be a loss of participants who came just for Mario Kart, and an increase in the average waiting time among each FIFA participant.
As we started late, we just published an event page on Facebook to promote with our initial planning details, hoping to attract as many participants as possible. However, we regretted that we did not finalize our plan before posting it out, as changing and deleting the event page will notify the people we have invited and reduce our credibility. I have learnt that it is very important for an entrepreneur to ensure everything is working correctly and double check all details before publishing to the public as words could not be taken back due to the power of world-of-mouth. Additionally, we could conduct a mini test to ensure all machines are working before carrying out the actual event to avoid contingencies.
After experiencing all these failures, I have learnt that we should plan a project in advance since we were given such a long period of time to prepare and execute. Besides, we should be proactive and give feasible suggestions during meetings. Despite we are working with people from different countries, we should always be brave and speak up in order to achieve the best outcomes during meetings. On the other hand, I understand flexibility is vital. We must possess the ability to adjust our strategies according to the environment in order to succeed. “Entrepreneurs do not operate in vacuums, they respond to their environments” (Gartner, 1988).