Let’s talk about failure
This post has long been overdue.
I was a Founder in Cohort 7 of Elevator’s Accelerator programme that ran in spring 2018. I joined with a friend’s idea – a food business. Just before the start of the Accelerator my friend made the difficult decision to abandon the programme and this venture due to time constraints and other commitments.
Facing the challenges of the Accelerator on my own, I realised within the first few weeks that this business idea was not for me. One of the mentors summed it up perfectly,
“You talk like an investor, not like an entrepreneur. Where’s the passion?”
After some initial confusion, I got it. He was spot on. That’s exactly how I looked at this idea. I would invest my time, efforts and money for future return. I liked the idea, but I was not consumed by it. Being an organiser, I thought,
“Passion is overrated! All I need to do is set things up.”
Maybe this would have been enough had there been a team. I could have essentially been the operations manager. However, for a solopreneur lack of passion for the core idea is fatal for the business. Lesson learnt!
So, where did that leave me within Accelerator 7?
I joined forces with another food business – a cake maker. She was looking for a potential partner. So, the Accelerator gave both of us a save environment to test things out. This time I could act mostly in the background and look after Accelerator ‘homework’. It was a great opportunity! I learnt about another type of business, and it allowed me to stay on the programme. Eventually the cake maker left the programme and so did I as a consequence… for about half a week.
The unexpected happened!
Another Accelerator start-up asked me to help them in the programme. Of course, I re-joined. Theirs was a science-based business. Thus, much closer to home for me than cakes. There was even another Cohort 7 member who would have taken me on board. How flattering!
In the end…
the Accelerator experience made me re-evaluate Blue Steens, my sole trader venture that I was about to wind down. I realised that it had been too focussed in its offering. I realised that people saw value in my various contributions and wanted to work with me. I realised that this ‘helping out’ and finding solutions is the approach I have always taken naturally – at university, in jobs, in life – and that this should be Blue Steens’ offering.
I failed early in the Accelerator with the food business. Sometimes I even felt like a cheat by staying on the programme without my own business. However, in the end it all made sense and gave Blue Steens new purpose.