Failure Doesn’t Breed Success

Dec 6 2012 @ 9:21am

Lydia DePillis resists the urge to glamorize failed start-ups:

Google’s venture capital arm ran the numbers, and found that entrepreneurs whose first business did well had a 29 percent chance of success on their second, compared to a 16 percent success rate for people who’d failed their the first time around (essentially the same as first timers, who succeed 15 percent of the time). A Harvard study from 2008 produced almost identical results. That makes sense: There are a zillion ways to fail, and resolving to avoid the mistake that did you in the first time doesn’t shield you from making another one. 

Sure, it’s possible to extract value from failure. But most of it is just wasted energy, and a high failure rate indicates that bad ideas are getting started when they shouldn’t.