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How to recover from a start-up failure?
11 points by imasr on Nov 15, 2007 | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments
I'd love some suggestions. I'm still having dificulties to let it go, but all the signs are there.

I recently wrote up my own experience on how to recover from a startup failure.


Hope it helps. If there is any other way I can help, please comment. Good luck.


Denny K Miu


That was beautiful! Thank's a lot. Despite what's said everywhere, I think I'm too old to do anything else, so I'll give it another try (and another, and...:)



Good luck. It helps to know that none of us is alone in our struggle.


Thanks. Good stuff. It's nice to hear of the other side of the start up life. The side when it doesn't go well. I'm sure we'll all be there at some point or another.


I suggest that if it's at all possible, try to recycle or preserve the work you've already done so you might derive some value from it.

For example, if it's a web site/application/service, can you maintain it in a minimal and economical way, such as moving to shared hosting from more expensive options? In this case you may find that traffic grows as more users find the site, or you may come up with some new ideas after taking a break, etc. Perhaps you can scale back or put a new twist on your original concept.

At minimum it could be a portfolio site or demo app when seeking out client work to pay the bills.

Of course this all depends on the nature of the failure and your particular circumstances.

I haven't burned many bridges in life, but I do regret some I've allowed to rot and fall away.

I agree with optimal's comment: Don't throw any files away for at least six months. Let your emotions cool down, there may be quite a bit that can be salvaged or recycled. Write up a personal list of lessons learned, so that you can translate your mental "if only" to "next time." Review the list every few months as you gain more perspective and revise it. Try and stay friendly with everyone involved, even if they are blaming you for the moment. With time and some perspective you may reach some different conclusions about what really happened (and what you will do differently next time). There is a quote by Eric Hoffer I find useful:

Our Achievements Speak For Themselves.

What we have to keep track of are our failures, discouragements, and doubts. We tend to forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, and the painful groping. We see our past achievements as the end result of a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of failure and decay.

learn from it...

but I can tell you when you do let it go and move on, you will feel a lot better about yourself, and the whole experience, you will realize how much you have learned. You should also realize that nothing is more valuable than your time, so the sooner you can let it go the more time you have wasted on it, and the less of a failure it will be.

Mark Cuban said it once, that you only have to be right in your life once and thats it, it is irrelevant how many times you have failed before it. I have taken this to heart and think of it everyday.

so get out there and try again (and again and again if needed..) you'll get it right one day, and thats all the assurance that you need

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