Why A Prominent Start-up Executive Wants You to Get Fired and Fail
Kim Kovaks, Founder and CEO OptionEase, recently spoke to a class of emerging entrepreneurs at UC Santa Barbara. With over 700 customers, OptionEase has become the leading enterprise-class SaaS solution for stock option and equity compensation tracking and compliance. Kim shocked some of the students by telling them that she hopes they fail.
In this 8-minute video excerpt from her talk, Kim describes why, “failure is my favorite word at my company now.” Kim also discusses the importance of focus and why she does not hesitate to hire people who have previously been fired.
You can watch Kim’s talk below:
The video begins with Kim describing her experience speaking at an Inc. 5000 conference. One of the primary messages she conveyed to the Inc. attendees was the importance of focus, especially during a start-up’s early days.
“There are a lot of things that entrepreneurs need to do. Yes, you need to be dedicated. Yes, you need to have that entrepreneurial spirit and you’ve got to stay up late…but people lose sight of the fact that they (have to) stay hyper-focused. You have to stay on focus because, as an entrepreneur, you are going to get ideas coming at you every second. We encourage it…but it doesn’t mean you have to act upon (each idea). You never want to close your ears off, but you also want to be sure to remain on focus.”
Failure Is A Winning Strategy
Entrepreneurial failure is a myth. Entrepreneurs know that what others call “failure” is simply a bump in the road toward their ultimate success. As life-long learners, entrepreneurs view every experience as a valuable opportunity to hone their skills, establish new relationships and become more street-smart. For this reason, Kim encourages her employees to embrace failure.
“People are so concerned about being successful all the time that they sometimes take shortcuts to be successful. I had a salesperson who would basically do anything with the client to get the deal. It was killing our company…she always had to sell something that didn’t exist. She couldn’t sell what we had.
(I told her) you’ve got to fail. You are going to lose deals. You’re going to fail and you’re going to learn how to overcome those failures with the next deal and sell what we have, not what we’re going to have in six-months. I am telling everybody (at my company) ‘It’s OK to fail.’
If you can recognize the failure before it becomes epic, that’s a really good thing. You’re going to learn way more every time you fail at something than when you are succeeding.”Continued on the next page