First Big Failure: Check…

Losing sucks. Losing $50,000 sucks badly. Losing $50,000 when it’s all that stands between you and starting your business…sucks like you wouldn’t believe. So much so that it almost hurts. Ucraft Brew unfortunately lost the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, and thus a chance at winning $50,000 to help us launch our business.

A little backstory may be in order.

For the last few months, my team and I have been writing a business plan, attending workshops, and grinding away in an entrepreneurship competition known as the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, all for our business Ucraft Brew. We’ve been doing this since summer of 2015, where we all met in an entrepreneurship class, and an idea for custom beers made-to-order online began to flourish. We started out against 32 or teams that submitted intents to compete. That number dwindled down to about 15 teams submitting a preliminary business plan. Of those 15 teams, 5 teams made it through to finals, and Ucraft Brew was one of those teams. After one of the teams ended up dropping, it was down to just 4 teams.

“At some point or another, we all have to fail. However, the true test for an entrepreneur is what they do after they fail.”

From January to March, my team (who I am EXTREMELY proud of) crafted a work of art for a business plan. In total, this was a 65-page plan filled with financials, market analysis, big hopes, and even bigger dreams. Once our business plan was finished, we knocked it out of the park (or so I like to think) with an awesome first pitch. I think it goes without saying that we had high hopes.

Yet when all was said and done, we came up short. Ucraft Brew did not win the $50,000. What could have gone wrong? Are we just inherently losers? Did we bomb the pitch and not know it? DID I SCREW IT UP FOR ALL OF US??

The short answer is no, but these questions did pop into my head. It took me a day or so to sit back, calm down, and assess what really happened (had I written this blog post yesterday, it might have had a very different ending).

At the end of the day, we didn’t lose for lack of effort or because we had a bad idea, we lost because there was simply another team out there that had a better idea than us, and that executed better than we did. In fact, I can comfortably say that not a single one of the teams that made it the finals had a bad idea. We all had great ideas, but at the end of the day, only one team can walk away with the grand prize – I just wish it could have been us.

So the big question is…did we fail? Well, to some extent, yes, we failed to win the $50,000 and that’s on us. Shying away from this answer won’t help any. Are we failures though?

pick yourself up

While it may feel a little bit like that right now, we are not failures. I am not a failure. I, like every other entrepreneur that ever came before me, have failed at something. At some point or another, we all have to fail. However, the true test for an entrepreneur is what they do after they fail. They can either learn from it, which thus makes the failure into just another lesson and something that’s part of the process, or they can quit trying, which is the only true failure. I choose the former of the two.

I think I’ve given myself more than enough time to wallow in self-pity. It’s time to put the entrepreneur hat back on, brush myself off, and figure out what we can do better. We’ve still got $25,000 we can win to help get Ucraft Brew going, and I sure as hell don’t plan to just let it slip by. For me, failure is just another step towards success.

Was there a time you had to get back up and brush yourself off? Share your inspirational story in the comments below.