Tell the story of my startup failures, or just keep going?

Im thinking about opening up and discussing my failures as a nonprofit/social business startup founder. Ive been in Asia for about 10 years, and hammering away on my social biz stuff for about 6 years. I have tons of time, sweat equity and real money invested in the whole thing. I tend to get really wound up emotionally, when I talk about my struggles. And I really don’t want to be “that guy” publicly bitching and whining about everything. Any advice on how to best share the story? Or better to just keep going, and take up kickboxing or something on the side?  The failures are really eating me up inside, so I feel like I need to dish it out somehow/channel it in some positive way.


  • Perhaps join a support group. It doesn’t have to be entrepreneur related. I’ve noticed that most people in the entrepreneur community only want to hear about a founders failures if that founder ended up succeeding in the end.

    If there’s no fairy tale ending, then it’s just a depressing story to hear and they feel like they’re listening to a loser. Not saying that you’re one; just keep that in mind.

  • There’s nothing depressing about hearing the causes of failure. There’s a lot of focus on “how to be successful” but it’s much more common than “how to avoid pitfalls”.

    The problem is that the two aren’t mirror images of one another. I’m certain that for every successful “lean” startup there’s 4 “lean” failures. The problem tends to be that the response is “oh you weren’t lean enough”. That guy at the kids’ football game selling peanut-butter-and-oyster sandwiches is running a lean operation too, and he’s broke.

    Post-mortems are useful and it’s only a certain type of myopia that avoids them.

  • I’d be interested in a “why” it went wrong type of article. Lots to learn from this type of articles. But make sure to reflect deeply first, don’t just assume about the reasons, be sure about them.

    • Thank you, that is good to keep in mind. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from any kind of projects or community organizing things that I had been doing previously. Staying quiet for about a year. So yes, trying to think deeply before speaking out about it all. But now I guess I’m at the point where I might be overthinking it, or caught in this negative emotional loop. It feels a little like being frozen in time. Walt Disney, without the success lol

      My struggles with opening up are also stemming from being (a foreigner founder) in Asia, where “saving face” is EVERYTHING, and failing can be extremely hard to bounce back from, depending on how badly you let people down. If you try to do something in your community, on the social impact side (i.e. social change or “be the change” or whatever) as a foreigner, with lots of differing values and belief systems to manage, then people’s feelings can get hurt/people feel crossed or alienated, and failures tend to sting a lot more. The level of contentiousness seems to be different than the average startup failure situation someplace else, I feel.

      I don’t know where to begin addressing all of it. As I said, perhaps channel it into something more productive/positive. A creative spin on it. Artwork. Media. Something else. Doing it
      without calling attention to how badly I may have mucked up people’s lives. Show them something new (& hopefully educational, or at least entertaining).

      As somebody once advised me, people don’t care about any of that deep philosophical/reasoning stuff at the end of the day. Generally speaking, the mainstream audience just wants hot women sending live tweets from a hot tub, sharing photos and updates every 30 minutes as their limousine circles around the block…

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