Jennifer Baker

As you progress in your career, the world of business can at times be ruthless, and even the most successful of individuals will at some point fail. With possible difficulties lying around every corner, what is it then that sets highly successful people apart from the rest of the flock? Undoubtedly, it is their self-belief and resilience to overcome even the worst of situations.

Making mistakes is not the important part - it’s the getting up, dusting yourself off and moving on that counts. Many great historical figures have commented on failure and success and the intimate relationships between the two. Winston Churchill famously said “success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”, and it’s an attitude reminiscent of this that has pushed renowned business figures like Deborah Meaden and Richard Branson.

Meaden experienced failure early on, after setting up a glass and ceramics export agency that ultimately failed after 18 months. She has said: “I consider it a failure to slog on with a business that is going to die sooner rather than later. And that’s a skill I’ve had from my very, very early days. A lot of people are blinded. They think ‘I can’t give this up. I’d feel like a failure.’”

Richard Branson may be most people’s idea of a successful businessman, but he has also experienced a multitude of failed ventures throughout the years. Crucially, he champions his team’s resilience to push on through as the basis for his success. He credits recognising mistakes and recovering as essential skills for any successful entrepreneur, saying “over the years, my team and I have not let mistakes, failures or mishaps get us down. Instead, even when a venture had failed, we try to look for opportunities, to see whether we can capitalise on another gap in the market”.

Branson raises an excellent point, and one that is key to the growth of highly successful people: if you do experience failure, take a step back and see how you can turn the experience into something fruitful and productive. Whether it’s just recognising where you went wrong and how to remedy this in the future, or using the situation as a base to progress in another direction, maximising on your mistakes will go a long way to you becoming highly successful in your chosen career.