Failure has a bad rap – get it right

THE key lies in learning to accept feedback and implement changes based on the feedback

This article is a fourth draft. The first version was not good enough; neither were the second and third versions!

Only, as a result of honest feedback and hard work, did it finally get its stamp of approval. Each version, albeit imperfect, was an improvement on the previous one as the writer persisted until the article met the client’s requirements.

This process, known as iteration, is one by which repetition, failure, feedback and improvement brings one successively closer to the desired result. For entrepreneurs, iteration means taking your product or service to market, even if it is not perfect, learning from the feedback and failures, and going back for more.

The quote “failure is not an option” was popularised by the movie Apollo 13. It suggests that, in order to succeed, one must avoid failure. This is not a good lesson for life; it is an even worse lesson if you choose to start and build a business.

It is crucial for entrepreneurs to see failure, not as the opposite of success, but as an inevitable part of the journey towards success. You have only failed if you don’t pick yourself up again and learn and grow from your mistakes.

The key lies in learning to accept feedback and to implement changes based on the feedback. While failure may be scary, it spurs on entrepreneurs who want to improve and grow.

Failing often, and an acceptance of failure are inevitable parts of the process. Rising from all this stronger, is the premise on which the Engen Pitch & Polish workshop and competition programme is built.

Now in its eighth year, the programme gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to fail – but not to give up – as they get constructive feedback, and the opportunity to give their pitch another go.

Sponsored by Engen Petroleum, in association with Nedbank, Raizcorp and media partner, Caxton Local Media, EngPitch & Polish is in pursuit of South African entrepreneurs, brave enough to pitch, fail, take feedback, and stand up again – all in an endeavour to perfect their business pitch, attract funding and grow their venture.

Engen Pitch & Polish combines the elements of workshop and competition – not only do all audience participants learn, they also get to give feedback to the contestants.

An entrepreneur, with a polished pitch, has a greater chance of success and attracting investment, than one who has not taken risks, made mistakes and bounced back better than before. This year’s programme kicks off in Rustenburg on September 2 and will be hosted around the country, culminating in the exclusive finale, which will be held in Johannesburg on November 30.

For a list of this year’s workshops and to experience the magic of Engen Pitch & Polish for yourself, visit or SMS 43719.

Kempton Express

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