If there's anything that's guaranteed in the start-up world, it's failure. We all know that about 90 percent of new businesses don't make it. Most entrepreneurs need to endure at least three failed companies before hitting upon a success.
Even then, no one wants to fail. And there's no getting around the fact that watching the demise of a company that you have poured your life into--toil, sweat, finances, and more--is a horrendously painful experience.
The professional and personal benefits of failure
But psychologists agree that failure is one of life's most valuable experiences. We become more resilient and grow deeper in character. Entrepreneurs in particular learn priceless lessons about leadership and management, bringing them one step closer to building a thriving business.
I would argue that there's another big benefit of failure: you may come to value your family more than ever before.
It's easy for business founders to put marriage and family on the back-burner when they're focused on the start-up. Many work long hours, travel frequently, and don't give much attention to their spouses and kids. After all, they're always there.
But when the company comes crashing down, you'll find yourself immensely glad that they are always there. According to an interview in Inc., here's what entrepreneur Mark Woeppel realized after his consulting firm tanked during the global recession: "I used to be like, 'My work is me.' Then you fail. And you find out that your kids still love you. Your wife still loves you. Your dog still loves you."
What family offers that business can't
The family that's easy to take for granted when things are going well is the same family that is going to be your most valuable safety net when you're struggling. They will remind you that you still have a lot going for you, that you are still a person of value and worth, no matter what happens to the business.
Hopefully those valuable reminders will help you realize that your family shouldn't be taken for granted. Your spouse, children, and other family members offer a type of unconditional support that you can't find among business partners, investors, or customers. These relationships are worth investing in on a regular basis, worth whatever time and attention you can provide, no matter how demanding your next start-up is.
In fact, I've heard several entrepreneurs say that a failed business actually saved their marriages. It reset their perspective just enough to approach life from a more balanced perspective. Instead of thinking that they were defined solely by their work, as Woeppel did, they now see that work is only one part of who they are.
And that clearer perspective on work, family, identity is likely to bring you that much closer to finding long-term balance and success, both professionally and personally.
So if you find yourself wrestling with business failure, take heart. It could be one of the best things that happens to you and your family.