Becoming an Entrepreneur According to FailCon: Actually, Failure is an Option . . .

written by: Mike Granetz

October 3, 2013

Okay, when you’re Apollo 13 flight director Gene Krantz, and you’re dealing with the lives of three American astronauts, demanding anything less than total success is just the attitude you need.

But what if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur? What if you’ve cooked up a great business idea, one you’re pretty sure is worth bringing to market — but you’re paralyzed by the idea of even trying because you’re worried that it just might not make it?

For Terry Cox, founder and president of the Business Innovation and Growth Council (BIG), which is hosting this year’s FailCon, the message is imperative: Get over that fear and take your shot.

Terry radiates an enthusiasm for the Charlotte business community that’s immediately infectious, and it stems from her belief that entrepreneurial energy is having a transformative effect on her city.

“Charlotte is an exceptional city,” she’ll be the first to tell you, “however, the business community here is still a bit buttoned down —  the influence of banking has created a very conservative, risk adverse culture for our region. FailCon is all about shaking Charlotte out of that thinking and embracing entrepreneurship as well as failure.”

To hear Terry explain it, it goes beyond the stated objective of FailCon itself, which is to encourage that risk-taking attitude that is the lifeblood of innovation. Just comparing the climate in Charlotte to that of previous FailCon conferences — which took place in San Francisco — suggests that the event is a genuine breath of fresh air for the Charlotte business community, which is in danger of becoming too comfortable with business as usual.

“Thinking FailCon is some celebration of misery misses the point. Think about it this way: after a big football game, don’t both teams watch game film the next day? And isn’t that arguably more important for the team that lost? They need to figure out what went wrong, fix it during practice in the week ahead, and get back on the field for the next game ready to come out on top!”

Terry says that’s the thinking real entrepreneurs possess, and the philosophy FailCon champions. The whole day features folks who have experience with every facet of the startup lifecycle, and they’re willing to show all the bruises they’ve earned achieving their success.

As Terry said in the official conference release, “Some investors will only invest in entrepreneurs who have experienced failure.” The takeaway? If you haven’t failed, you haven’t really taken a risk. And if you haven’t taken a risk, how could anyone be convinced that you’re putting everything on the line to make it happen?

That’s the question at the core of FailCon. There’s still time to register, so get to Charlotte on October 8. What do you have to lose?

FailCon Conference information:  http://charlotte.thefailcon.com

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