‘Failure – Makes Friends with It’: 3 Steps to Detect and Manage Failure 


By Sanil Sachar, Founding Partner at Huddle

By Sanil Sachar, Founding Partner at Huddle

What comes to your mind when you think of the word ‘failure’, commonly encountered in the world of entrepreneurship? Most of us see failure as a word that is quite subjective. While it often comes across as the end of something, in truth, failure is only the beginning of something. 

Failure has different meanings to different people. But, it is not as important to define failure, as much as it is important to acknowledge and admit that you might have failed. If we don’t admit we have failed, we are never giving ourselves a chance to move on from the failure.  

So, here’s the first tip – don’t hate on failure. It’s your friend, not your enemy. It’s here to guide you to better places, no hold onto you.

Disclaimer – Everything from here on is not by the book. 

This article will NOT go over – Steps in the process of failure. 

It will NOT cover – Failure modes or what could go wrong?

Neither will it highlight – Failure causes or why the failure happens. 

Lastly, there definitely won’t be an analysis on – Failure effects or what the consequences of each failure would be.

Failure isn’t learned in theory but from practice.

Failure, it’s a daunting word. Quite scary at first. However, as an investor, and a startup accelerator, having been part of the journeys of hundreds of founders, and alongside their good and bad days has taught a key lesson for life – failure is good for you.  

So, for the rest of this article, and from hereon, make friends with failure. Let’s make failure and dealing with it simple. 

Here are 3 simple tips in order to analyse failure and make the most of it. All of these are tested, not just by me, but also by you and other bright, successful, and pro-failure people around the world. 

Step 1 – Acknowledge you might fail

An apt example would be Netflix. Most of us have probably experienced a Netflix-and-chill day. What’s key to analyse here is that Netflix acknowledged they might fail. Years ago, they started off as a DVD rental company. Soon realising that while they are trying to surpass Blockbuster, another company in DVD rental, they in fact realised that their model was made to fail with the evolution of time and changing consumer behaviour. 

It was only when they could acknowledge that they might fail that they pivoted to becoming one of the smartest recommendation engines and libraries for movies through digital means in the world. As a startup, in order to acknowledge you might fail, you need to assess your product and service, not only by how it is consumed by your customer but also by how long it will be a necessity for your customer. 

Step 2 – Know when to walk away 

This is quite similar to the point above. While we might acknowledge failure, we might not have it in us, to walk away and let it go. It’s almost like walking away from a bad relationship. It’s needed, and it’ll definitely teach you how to have a more wholesome relationship in the future, but first, we need to have the courage, and the mindfulness to walk away. 

In the startup world or any organisational culture, it’s about being agile. Agility comes from listening to your processes and not just being enamoured by the outcome. Founders and teams that realise that at times certain business functions need to be walked away from, often end up building with more effectiveness. 

This is quite simple as when anyone walks away from a failure, they’re not abandoning it, but just utilising the time they have from not spending time on it, to spending time on something that is actually good for their business. 

To do this effectively, assess the constant costs of your business. If it’s either not reaping a direct return through sales, or not helping create brand loyalty and word of mouth, then assess where and how these costs of capital and time really help the business? If costs can’t be justified, then the reason for failure is one step away from being detected. 

Step 3 – Communication during failure 

For most companies, this is the most important task to try and perfect. Communication during a failure is literally the bridge between how to cope with failure and how to grow from a failure. 

Firstly, communicate with your team. There’s nothing as productive as real-time information on what is going on in your company and being open to suggestions from your team on how to adapt from a failed situation. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of businesses have been on the brink of failure. Employees have been a few decisions away from losing their jobs, and customers probably an order away from losing a brand they often order from. It’s much before success or failure that it is suggested you need to leverage the leadership you create within your organisation. 

For those who might think there should only be one leader, these companies are probably not building a democratic organisation for scale. 

A simple tip for good communication is to have weekly or bi-weekly newsletters, team calls, and get-togethers to ensure you’re constantly in touch with your team. Let your team know what you think is working well, and most importantly for every five words you say, listen to 50 more words because communication is more about listening than talking. The more you listen, the better prepared you are with solutions that come your way. 

To all the innovators, dreamers and doers, the best way to act during a failure is to befriend failure and learn from it because if there’s one thing failure gifts you, it is methods towards success. 

Author bio: Sanil Sachar is the Founding Partner of Huddle, India’s leading accelerator and fund. He is an entrepreneur, active angel investor, national best-selling author, and columnist based in New Delhi, India. Through Huddle, Sanil works with a diverse portfolio of disruptive startups. He is also one of the co-owners of the global sports apparel brand Tru, and looks into the global strategy and the multi-sports growth of Trusox in India.

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