[Executive Edge] Quotes on business failure that will inspire you
Global Entrepreneurship Week, which runs from November 17 to November 23, generally tends to promote stories of business success. The Failing Forward Conference held on Saturday, November 22, however, took a different approach: each one of the resource speakers talked about their professional setbacks, disappointments, and rejections to the mostly student audience.
Young entrepreneur Addison Falcon, for example, spoke of the difficulties of differentiating his local cheese brand Gourmet Keso on the market, while Paulo Tibig, the president of Vcargo worldwide, redefined failure as he saw it. “The only failure is when you say, ‘I give up,’” Tibig said.
Henry Ong, the director of Young Entrepreneur Society (YES) Philippines, elaborated on the goals of the event.
“It is very common for entrepreneurship talks to focus on rags to riches stories so we wanted to change the theme that instead of celebrating success we wanted to celebrate failures. It is in failures that we experience and develop our character so we can succeed in the future,” Ong said.
This Failing Forward Conference is the second run of the annual event, but its theme is more or less eternal, as Ong noted. “Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of heart and guts to succeed because you are not only investing your money but also your time,” he explained.
The Failing Forward Conference is just one of the many advocacies of YES Philippines. “YES Philippines is an organization of young entrepreneurs with passion to innovate and put up businesses of their own,” Ong said, adding that full membership to YES requires that one must be 49 years old and younger and be the founder of a business with at least a 25% ownership stake.
Business failures worth celebrating
Under the thematic banner of ‘failure,’ the Failing Forward Conference speakers took a variety of different approaches. “Some talked about their stories of failure, some talked about lessons learned, some talked about motivation and encouragement,” Ong said. “Each speaker is focused on certain emphasis to balance all the topics in the event.”
Here is a closer look at some of the best quotes on failure, fear, struggle, and disappointment from the event, along with some of the context that underlined their thinking.
"If you keep telling yourself you are not ready, when will you be ready? You will never push yourself if you don't start now"
Tantiansu works for Ideaspace Foundation, which is the incubation arm of Smart. In her experiences trying to encourage young Filipinos to apply, she often received the response that they were not ready. Yet as we can see through some of the Ideaspace incubees that she cited – SALt, WattSmart, Tambio, and TimeFree Innovations – Filipinos are brimming with great ideas. We just need a gentle push to overcome our trepidation.
"'Fail' can also mean something else. To me and Karen, it means the first attempt at learning."
Charisse Abalos and Karen Bordador are two close friends who had the vision of creating a community for women centered around an ecommerce site specifically made to suit their needs. During the course of creating what would eventually become Sister Secrets, they were laughed out of the room on more than one occasion. Web design consultants did not think their budget was large enough and investors thought the first design was amateurish. Yet they stuck through it and they now have a thriving community built around the site.
"Can you name a single Philippine tycoon who hasn't failed?"
Realty entrepreneur Flores issued this challenge to the crowd midway through his talk, and no one in the audience had a response. His point was made clear: The most successful people in the Philippines did not become successes overnight. They experienced hundreds of setbacks to get to where they are today. So those Filipinos who aspire to become great businessmen or entrepreneurs should never be discouraged by the prospect of failure.
"You have to know the difference between quitting on your dreams and quitting on your goal"
Lo, the best-selling author of YOUnique and a renowned motivational speaker, wanted to distinguish between two kinds of failures: the right kind and the wrong kind. Citing author Seth Godon, Lo made the case that winners quit all the time, and they just happen to quit the right stuff at the right time. This is right kind of failure, as it’ll allow you to make better, more efficient use of your time and efforts. The wrong kind of failure, of course, is quitting on your very dreams.
"Take a look at failure as a kind of fine-tuning."
Azurin is the regional director for continental Asia at Freelancer.com and serves as the mentor for many Philippine startups, having already been a successful entrepreneur himself. To support his point above, he cited several famous failures from history, such as that of Thomas Edison. As we all know, Edison failed hundreds of times in trying to find the right filament for the light bulb before eventually finding it. As Azurin would say, Edison fine-tuned his failures into his success.
Bonus inspirational quotes on failure
- “You need to learn how to take 'no' for an answer." – Addison Falcon
- "Don't look at failures as a finality. It's just an event. It doesn't define who you are.” – Ardy Roberto, best-selling author and entrepreneur
- "You need to watch your own attitude toward rejection, failure, and disappointment." - Josiah Go, best-selling author and marketing thought leader.
Rappler business columnist Ezra Ferraz is also the chief content officer at ZipMatch, a tech company backed by Ideaspace Foundation, Hatchd Digital, IMJ Investment Partners, and 500 Startups. He brings you Philippine business leaders, their insights, and their secrets via Executive Edge. Connect with him on Twitter: @EzraFerraz
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As an added bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.