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500 Startups’ Dave McClure reveals how an entrepreneur should approach failure

Dave McClure

The path to success now includes a new step: failure. The 500 Startups co-founder reveals his advice for failing entrepreneurs and what next steps they could take should be.

The relationship between failure and entrepreneurs has been improving, of late.

Once seen, quite obviously, as the point of no return for a founder and their idea, a culture had been created where anything less than success was to be feared, avoided and, in some extremes, not even discussed.

Failing founders advice has shifted a great deal, however.

Businesses, both established and new, are having to compete for a digital, less tolerant, consumer base that has a growing appetite for efficiency and transparency, and an awareness that they can control their brands.

As a result, strategies, plans and even entire companies are even more at risk of failing as they learn how to approach this new breed of customer; this isn’t as scary, or negative, as it used to be.

Failing has been turned on its head: entrepreneurs can learn from their mistakes; wrong turns are seen as a byproduct of natural curiosity and trial and error; rejection is no longer anonymized, but shared and discussed.

The early stage venture firm and accelerator, 500 Startups, is all too aware of this, having relationships with hundreds of new startups and their founding teams, navigating the choppy waters of their first years as businesses.

Dave McClure, one of the seed fund’s founding partners, understands failing founders advice needs to appreciate the context of the industry and the next steps.

“You need to face the fact that you’re in a high risk business where things don’t work. Be realistic about trying to solve problems that matter – whether you’re paid, or whether you use amounts of visibility or eyeballs that can be economically translated.

“Find your inner passion for solving problems and connecting that with the user or customer base who will pay to have those problems being solved.”

The strength of character of an entrepreneur is only truly tested during the process of failing, and failing founders advice knows that placing the customer at the heart of what you do may allow you to reassess your strategy and align it for success in the future.