Startup Advice

Gary Vaynerchuk on how to classify your failures for maximum productivity

Emma Koehn /

Company founders are no strangers to the experience of things not going their way, but should you be doing more to categorise your failures?

Serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk took to his blog this month to argue that for the sake of productivity, entrepreneurs should frame tough times in terms of “macro” and “micro” failings.

“A macro failure is dying. A macro failure is filing chapter 11 [bankruptcy] and going directly out of business. A macro failure is somebody you care about punching you in the face and saying, “You are a piece of shit; I will never talk to you again,” Vaynerchuk writes.

In the business world, Vaynerchuk believes everything else should be viewed as a “micro” failure, and entrepreneurs should avoid wasting their time getting too hung up on the sting of these.

Most people spend more time than they need to on “micro” failures, Vaynerchuk says. They are reluctant to let go of single days or weeks that don’t go well, even if the overall arch of their stories has been success.

I’ve got a lot of things not going well. I’ve got way more things not going well than I have things going well in volume, but my overall strategy and vision is working,” he writes.

On a daily basis, Vaynerchuk says he has tens of micro failures, from the prospect of losing a contract to employee conflicts and tragedies in the lives of people he works with.

He advises entrepreneurs to give in to the idea that when micro failures happen, you rarely has a choice in the matter. Taking this stance can speed you up so you can focus on the next thing.

“I have no choice when somebody thinks I stink because they didn’t like my talk because I cursed. I really have no choice. When an event doesn’t go as well as you want, you have no choice,” he writes.

“All you need is one extra ticket sale, one new client, one new good piece of content and you are back on the fucking train in the other direction.”

Read more: How founding and selling six startups taught Adir Shiffman the importance of luck, failure and humility

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior SmartCompany journalist.

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