Fail Smarter

Leslee Hill, Director, WEOC WBC, The NIIC

As appeared in Business People magazine, March 2021

Early estimates suggest over 20% of U.S. small businesses closing during the COVID-19 pandemic will do so permanently. I am part of that statistic. Like so many, I closed a startup because of the pandemic. Also, like many others, I pursued my startup while also working full time.

Public perception will have you believe there is nothing to show for a fallen startup.

No letters after your name, as you see with earning a Master’s degree.

No gold medallion draped around your neck for completing the marathon.

It’s time to reframe.

What if we alter our complicated way of defining startup success?

Expand the definition to allow failing forward.

Through my startup failure, I gained SO much, learning about myself, partnerships, potential customers, and funding my venture. I can offer much more to the world from that experience. I am better equipped to serve female Founders in our community and the Northeast Indiana region through my full-time job at The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC).

Let’s acknowledge failure and disarm the often-associated shame. So, it didn’t quite go as planned. Now what? What will you do with that?

Choose your path forward.

Let’s permit individuals to choose NOT to feel unsuccessful (double negative intended). They, first, dared to pursue starting a business. Recognize and honor that courage. Founders take risks that 60 million Americans will never accept.

Acknowledge the struggle. It is real and part of the entrepreneurial journey. It’s dynamic.

Now is your time.

Foster the emergence of inspiration for what’s next. I’m thrilled to share that several WEOC clients have found success specifically due to pivoting and reinventing their businesses during COVID-19.

NOW could be the best time for YOU to start your business.

Business Building is for all ages, ethnicities, genders.

The average age of a Founder today is over 40 years of age. WEOC WBC clients represent all ages, ethnicities, and genders. Our most dominant demographic is women over the age of 38. I love the energy when they are all together. They are a high-powered force.


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