If you had it to do all over again—start your business, that is—would you?

If you’ve ever dealt with failure you know that it’s easy to let discouragement creep in. When money is tight and the vision for something better begins to drain away, it is difficult to hear the voices of those cheering for you on the sidelines.

But our recent Small Talks in Dallas entitled “Succeeding Through Failure” reminded entrepreneurs and startup hopefuls that sometimes success is found in the debris of life; sometimes bi-passing trials would actually diminish the reward. Speakers at this event knew first hand of betrayal and frustration. They pointed out that entrepreneurs cannot compartmentalize their lives when they’re working diligently to succeed both personally and in their business. Just as a scale will tip from side to side, what happens at home will show up at work—even if it arrives buried under layers of silence.

Darlene Ellison of High Touch Alliances spoke candidly of the profound way her life was interrupted by her husband’s secret criminal activity. After ten years of marriage and children at home, Darlene’s world was shattered when police showed up at her door with an arrest warrant.

Suddenly, she was a single mother with no income and no way to support her family. She became the sole provider overnight and without warning. But the dissolution of her marriage awoke Darlene’s entrepreneurial spirit. She began working on her dream, secured insurance, and started the long, steep climb to freedom and security.

Today she credits her success to her past defeats. “You encounter many defeats,” she shared. “But YOU must not be defeated. You’ll find that those defeats are gifts.”

Carly Rowe of 2930 Creative in Dallas, shared her story of years spent trapped in a job that she knew wasn’t the right fit. She admits that for too long she listened to the voices who cried, “You need to get a job—something with a steady paycheck!”

But that kind of work was emotionally draining for Carly and finding the courage to walk away was painful. Now she can say resolutely, “I’ve found that oftentimes when people tell you not to take a risk it’s because they wouldn’t take a risk. But you have to make your own decisions.”

Rita Bailey of “Up to Something” synthesized the night with some pointers we can all learn from as we try to succeed through failure:

  • Be willing to change your plans, find new resources and make different decisions in order to succeed.
  • Know that taking risks is innate to entrepreneurship. Are you willing to gamble?
  • Take time to reflect after failure. Regroup and decide what needs to change.
  • Go back to basics. Strip away the superfluous and keep only what’s necessary and what’s working.
  • Instead of asking “why me,” you should be asking “show me.” Take time to ponder what your opportunity reveals to you.
  • Find a good mentor who has experience to share and who will inspire you.
  • Be open to new friendships. Networking is important and reminds you that you are not alone.

If you’ve been on a bumpy road, what lessons would you add to this list? How have you succeeded through failure?

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