The Real Reason Why Startup Founders Need To Fail

Why “fail early and often” is a self-fulfilling prophecy

Joe Procopio


image by freepik

If I were to choose one nugget of advice that I would give to every first-time startup founder and serial startup founder alike, it would be this.

“Do not fail. Until you absolutely have to.”

One of my genuine dislikes about startup culture is its reliance on meaningless slogans and motivational platitudes in the very same way that large, soulless corporations rely on meaningless mission statements and company values.

Those things should have weight, but they don’t, because they’re usually just thrown out there by reflex.

Hence, founders are told that they must fail in order to succeed. They’re told they should fail early and often. They’re told that failure is OK, because it’s part of the process.

And to those people giving that seemingly sage advice, I always ask:

“Have you ever failed at a business? I mean like truly, disastrously failed?”

Guess what their answer usually is.

Spoiler alert: It’s no.

How Famous People Become Famous

A few weeks ago, I attended one of those celebrity conventions with my kids. My teens absolutely love meeting all their YouTube and anime stars and even some legit movie and television A-and-B-listers. This year, I parlayed my networking skills into a bucket-list unsolicited 10-minute conversation with Dave Foley from the Kids in the Hall. So it’s always worth me hanging around.

This year’s convention took place during what is hopefully the low point in the writer’s and SAG-AFTRA strikes. So the celebrities couldn’t say anything about anything they’ve done, or were doing, or will do.

Yeah, it became a constant verbal dance of talking about why they were there without talking about why they were there. And that led to an unexpected pattern.

I love unexpected patterns — they’re usually where the money is.

Because of the limitations, audience questions were reduced to asking about the celebrity’s favorite whatevers or their hobbies, innocuous stuff…



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at