Business management

On Failed Dreams, and What They Bring Us

4 min read · Listen

Every now and then, I get asked why I decided to become an entrepreneur– a path that we all know is anything but easy. When we look at most big-shot entrepreneurs’ stories, we only see the bright side and the ‘happy ending’ to their endeavours. However, most people forget that behind a successful business story, there’s almost always a series of sacrifices, lost opportunities and unexpected paths that ultimately unravelled into a positive outcome.

In my case, it all started with a car dealership.

Growing up, my role model was my dad, who was also an entrepreneur and owned two car dealerships. From an early age, it was very clear to me that I would become the owner of that company one day. As a kid, I always walked around the dealership and spent a lot of time there, so I naturally fell in love with the atmosphere, the mechanics, the noises, the karting races… I could definitely see myself leading the business. However, when I was a teenager, my dad suddenly decided to sell his company and, to be honest, the decision blindsided me. 

This change in our family dynamics left me without footing for a while, and it made me ask myself several questions: what am I going to do now that the car dealership business is out of the picture? Where do I see myself going forward? But most of all… Why am I taking this loss in such a hard way? (It was my dad's venture, anyway…right?) 

After some pondering, I realized that it was for a reason beyond the business itself: I had already been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. The sudden change in my childhood dream –and the one thing I had always envisioned myself doing- forced me to think about what I truly wanted to do and made me come to the conclusion that business was my calling. Apart from my ‘inherited’ passion for cars, I also liked IT very much. I was very young when I started programming software (as young as 6!) and I’d grown to love it… a lot more than I ever liked cars, that’s for sure. This passion led me to make some very important decisions, which in turn led me to what efficy is today.

How to find your entrepreneur’s path.

So, which steps should anyone –especially entrepreneurs-- take to make the most out of ‘failure’? My first advice would be to think about how you can transform bad news into an opportunity. Having something bad happen to you is okay; the real question is – how do you work, change and evolve in order to turn this from an issue into an opportunity? (Yes, this is something that we hear a lot, but for good reason: it’s true!) 

Think about my story, for example. Once the dealership was gone, I had to think -- if I really want to achieve the entrepreneur’s dream, what are my skills? What can I do or build as a person, as an individual, without the thing that was just lost? Another option could’ve been to buy another dealership, of course; but to be honest, that wasn’t compliant with my skillset. I was also much more attracted to IT and electronics, so as it turns out, cars weren’t the best choice in the end.

Some advice to achieve the entrepreneur’s dream.

Therefore, that would be my first advice -- to reflect on yourself and think: what do you really like to do? Are you good at doing it? What can you bring to the table with what you know? Of course, to be a respected leader, it’s helpful to know what you’re talking about, so sometimes going for what you’re good at instead of what you like could be a better choice. Take my example – I loved cars, but my strengths lay elsewhere, and I’m much better at working in software than I could’ve ever been working at a dealership. I still like driving them, of course – I’m just not involved in selling them! 

Sometimes you will get bad news that could be a bit harder to manage, like losing a business deal (which is never positive), and you need to find the strength to say, ‘we lost, but let’s learn something from this and make sure that we’ll never lose for the same reason in the future’. Failures are also chances to improve -- and when it comes to becoming better at what you do, you should always take every chance you get. 

If you'd like to continue on this journey, check out these stories: