Fail Fast


Friday, December 7, 2007



Almost no one talks about it. But it’s crucial to success.

One huge lesson my continuing online and offline success has taught me is this.

Failure is good!

Failure is such an integral part of the path to success in any field, it’s a pity so few really understand it.

But the few who clearly understand that failure is actually a blessing because it teaches you so many valuable lessons are today’s millionaires and billionaires.

Past successful entrepreneurs such as F. W. Woolworth, Milton Hershey, John Wannamaker and Henry Ford experienced many failures before finally succeeding.

Entrepreneurs of today such as Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Nicholas Hayek and Warren Buffet recognize what the lesson failure can teach you.

To succeed big, you must master the art of failing forward. Why?

Failure teaches you many things you could never learn in school.

Here is one of the biggest lessons. The nature of reality is this. Most things you try in life will simply not work out.

For example, I probably have more successful pieces of advertising copy running right at this moment around the world than anyone else. This includes the internet, direct mail and space advertising.

Unless you live in a cave somewhere, you probably read my copy each day somewhere and don’t even know I wrote it. (Much of my copy doesn’t include my by-line.)

But what is a much lesser known fact is this. I have written far more copy that doesn’t work than perhaps anyone else in direct marketing, online and off.

About 40% of copy that I write is successful. I don’t know of any copywriter with a batting average of .400. Do you?

But the biggest percentage of the copy I write does not work. Instead, it fails big time. But people only know and remember the big winners.

Now, do you think these flops have made me the marketer I am today? Think about that.

Joe Sugarman, my old friend, master copywriter and world-class marketer, is happy if one out of ten of his wonderful space ads is profitable. He simply drops the losers and rolls out the winners.The end result? He makes a fortune.

Most humans have the completely wrong attitude about a failed ad. Or a failed business. Or even a failed grade in school. Nothing bad happens. Andyou can try again. Or take the class over.

A recent study of 25 people who achieved millionaire status before age 30 revealed some startling facts. The number of times they failed on average before becoming successful–19 times! This failure statistic included voluntary business discontinuance, liquidation and bankruptcies. But they persisted and kept trying until they made it.

Compare this with the typical small business person who starts a business that doesn’t make it. Most get so discouraged they quit business forever.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not advocating failing deliberately. You should always do the very best you can to succeed at anything you attempt. In that way you’ll know that the lack of success in any particular endeavor is not due to a lack of effort.

Americans in my experience are the best in the world at recovering from a business that flops.That’s a big reason why the U.S. is still the world’s number 1 haven for entrepreneurs–the land of opportunity.

Europeans for the most part have not learned that it’s OK to fail. Psychologically they tend to punish themselves forever.

Tips. What to do to make the lessons learned from failing pay off really big time.

  1. Try a lot of things.
  2. Try as best you can. If you fail at some of them, don’t punish yourself. Expect it. And accept it. You undoubtedly will fail repeatedly until you get it right.
  3. Love it or forget it. Don’t even bother to get involved with any product or business unless you have passion for it. Nothing can replace your enthusiasm. Remember, all sales come from vitality.
  4. Know when to quit and go back to the drawing board. Here is the most valuable tip of all. When an advertisement, marketing program or business is simply not working, don’t continue spending endless hours and throwing money at it. Instead–


  5. The big lesson:


    Drop losing projects immediately.It’s necessary in life to know when to move on.

  6. Risk small and roll out big. Don’t bet the whole ranch on any business, product or ad.
  7. Accept that risk is necessary. Nothing in life is risk free. And the more worthwhile, the more risk. This includes life itself. You may live to a ripe old age, dear reader, and I hope you do. But in reality you are just a heartbeat away from a very abrupt end to it all.

To live in the world successfully, at least on thisplanet, you must accept risk.

When I interview accomplished people over 90,they almost never regret the risks they’ve taken.They regret the risks they’ve not taken.

Don’t live in regrets. Instead, go for it!

Keep me posted with your rich experiences.

Your correspondent,

Ted Nicholas