Friday the 13th: The Art of Failure

Freitag, der 13.: Die Kunst des Scheiterns

In July we celebrated our seventh anniversary. seven years HANG, TIRE & Co., seven years New Work, seven years of failure and moving on.

Wait what? You read that right: failure. Making mistakes, falling, screwing things up - it's all part of founding. It's just not always all sunshine and roses in the startup scene. We too had setbacks, things went wrong for us too. Our seventh anniversary was therefore absolutely not a matter of course. Unfortunately, far too few founders talk about it. We want to change that here!

With many things it is ultimately a question of mindset. Anyone can fall down. But just keep going (usually). And that's what we think is important.

What is failure anyway?

The word "failure" comes from the 16th century. Back then, “to fail” meant something like “to break into pieces”. It might sound a bit dramatic now - but sometimes it feels that way, doesn't it? Failure is therefore one thing above all: one subjective Feeling. Do not you think? A thought experiment:

You are a:e student:in mathematics. For your final exam, you prepare for weeks, practice, learn, calculate test tasks. Your grades are always good, you've never had a 3 or 4. But on the day of the exam you're still super excited and promptly forget half of it. In the end you get a straight 4. Have you failed?

The student would probably answer "yes" unequivocally. If you never got bad grades, you prepared yourself totally and in the end you only get a "sufficient" result, that's super disappointing.

If you were to ask students who took the same exam but failed it with a 5, they would probably not classify the result of their fellow student as a failure. At least he passed it!

Failure is dealing with disappointments

Above all, failure is how we deal with it. And 'therefore' means: with capitalism, the pressure to self-optimize, one's own expectations and goals, social expectations.

We believe: failure and falling flat on your face are part of it, both privately and professionally. However, we try to learn something from every failure in order to get at least a little something positive out of failure. 

How do start-ups fail - and how do they not fail?

A major hurdle for us when founding a company was the legal part. Authorities, company forms, forms, laws. This can all get pretty confusing. Some are designed in such a way that you would need a college degree to understand them (or maybe not get through despite a college degree). Is that a failure? jain A wrong tick on the tax return is by no means the end of the world, but it can cost a lot of money under certain circumstances. In the end we admitted that there are things we can do better than official stuff. That's why we've outsourced this to professionals. We'll tell you why in a moment. But let's continue with the text: Why do start-ups fail?

Most Start-ups actually fail because of completely different problems. You have a great idea, but the demand just isn't there. And then at some point you run out of money - number two, by the way, on the list of the most common reasons why Start-ups fail.

A start-up is not a permanent one-man show

Last but not least, the team is crucial for the (non-)survival of a start-up. An analysis by CB Insights has shown that almost every fourth start-up failure is due to inconsistencies in the team 😲 It's even worse when there is no team at all - but the start-up consists of only one person.

Tobi&Vincent HÄNG Outdoors Gründer

A lesson we had to learn first. When Tobi founded HÄNG in 2014, he did it alone. At some point, however, HÄNG had grown so big that he was no longer able to cope with the tasks on his own. But he didn't want to stop either. That's why he looked for reinforcements at the end of 2017. And now we are one 11 person team.

Our personal failure story? Shortly after Vincent got on board at HÄNG, a letter from the tax office fluttered into the house. It said: additional payment! Due to an administrative error, HANG was not logged in for a while. When this was noticed, all payments were requested at once. Instead of a growing start-up - which Tobi Vincent had promised - HANG was suddenly broke. And the two faced the question: Should I really do it or should I just let it be? Four years later this blog post goes live, so the answer is clear 😉 Tobi and Vincent decided to keep going and somehow pushed through. Luckily - otherwise they would have things like DÄCKE or den BEG can never develop.

But: It could also have happened that HANG didn't recover. Then we would simply no longer exist today, like so many other great start-ups. And then that would have been a shame - but we would have learned something from it and continued. You too?
Then share your personal failure story and what you have learned from it with us Instagram or Facebook