Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your result with who you are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever put so much work into something and it failed?

Have you ever missed a big opportunity?

Have you ever been in a situation where it looks like you’re the dumbest person on the planet?

I’ve been there, and I know it hurts.

It hurts to throw yourself into something, and it doesn’t work out. It hurts when denied an opportunity you know you’re qualified for, and other less-qualified people got selected. It hurts to see everyone else progressing, but you’re still stagnant. 

Many people, when they experience failure, start thinking that is their destiny. They buy into what Les Brown calls “the never lies”: I’m never going to amount to anything; I’ll never be happy.

Their self-image gets destroyed by their experience and life becomes meaningless. They live day-to-day and every waking moment is mental torture. They’re like the woman in the book, The Alchemist, every day is just the same and there’s nothing to hope for.

If you’re going through a failure situation, I have good news for you: There’s a science-based formula for reinventing yourself! I know it works because it worked on me. While I cannot promise you fame or fortune, I can guarantee, however, that if you apply these principles, you will not only reinvent yourself, but you will be rightly positioned to do remarkable things in life!

3 Steps for Conquering Failure & Missed Opportunities

Step 1: Detox your mind

“Success and prosperity are nothing more than a way of thinking. We need to think differently.” – Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group.

woman taking photo while smiling

Nutritionists and psychotherapists have found several reasons why we need to occasionally detoxify our bodies: To remove toxins from the body, prevent chronic diseases, lose weight, enhance the function of our immune system, and so on. Likewise, we must occasionally detox our minds.

The problem with many people is that their mind has accumulated several layers of negative silos from their experiences of failure. They’re afraid of taking risks because they think they will never make it. This is what experts call associative conditioning – your mind preventing you from taking actions it links with pain and pushing you to the ones it links with pleasure.

If this is you, take heart, you can break that cycle from today! How? By detoxifying your mind!

Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University developed a groundbreaking learning theory called a growth mindset. It’s a sharp deviation from the common belief that a person’s talents are cast in stone. A growth mindset is a concept that revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability, and performance. It is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. In other words, failure is not final, it can be conquered with efforts.

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Is your life on track or are you drifting? Are you feeling stuck and powerless? Do you feel overwhelmed?

The good news is: Whatever damage negative, limiting thoughts have done in your life can be undone by you detoxifying your mind. Hence, you can begin, now, to fill your mind with positivity. You can begin to believe that things always go well with you. You can begin to believe that you’re a success. You can begin to expect amazing things to happen – and research says the universe will correspond to the nature of your song!

Mind over matter? Yes, but that’s not all. You have to take actions that resonate with your new self-image. Create a picture of who you want to be and propel your life in that direction through massive action (we’d take a deep dive into this in point 2). When you believe something, you commit to it.

Step 2: Define priorities and cut the clutters

Some people chase too many things at the same time. Their attention and energy strains between several options.

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown explains that, for centuries, that word “priority” was singular. It meant the first thing. Before somewhere around the 20th century, when the plural “priorities” magically surfaced, there can only be one first thing. Today, a lot of us are choked with several first things that we’re stumbling.

We’re in motion yet without tangible results. It’s time to press a pause on your endless to-dos and check your life:

  • What have you achieved in the past two years of your business, career or life?
  • What are the failures you’ve experienced in that process?
  • Is there a correlation between your lack of focus in your success or failed efforts?
  • What is the one thing that if achieved will move your life further?
  • What has been a drag to your life that you need to let go of?

When you’re done ferreting out answers to these questions, then it’s time to commit. If you’re a business owner, you’d probably discover that your lack of focus and strategy is sapping your energy. In other words, you’re a control freak and it’s killing your productivity. It might make sense to delegate or outsource the activities that do not rank within your strengths and specialize in those you excel in.

If you’re a student, you may realize that you’re spending too much time on other stuff instead of your studies. It’s quite easy to slack at school these days. The truth is: Education is still prime, regardless of your aspirations.

See, success is not accidental. Being a “jack of all trade or gonna-doer” does not translate to success either. It makes us lousy because, as Tony Elumelu said, you can have it all but not at the same time.

Pinpoint where your time and efforts are going, set your focus on a specific target, seek mentor support in guiding your path, and, commit to a course of action.

Focus your energy on those things that move you closer to bigger opportunities. To quote McKeown, “only once you give yourself the permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones

Step 3: Create “A-Game” partnerships

Several research studies have tested the correlation between accountability and success, and the results always pointed to a similar conclusion: “Publicly committing your goals to someone gives you at least a 65% chance of completing them. And, having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.”

Why is this so? Why is there a high chance for us to follow through on a commitment to someone else than to ourselves? The reason is simple: We’re far more likely to lie to and let down ourselves than someone we trust and respect.

Believe it or not, accountability works – every, single, time.

Consequently, when it comes to choosing your inner circle, you need people who hold you to high standards. You need people who are transformational and self-motivated. This is what I call “A-Game” partners.

Says Benjamin P Hardy: “The mere fact that most people avoid accountability is a powerful reason to create LOTS of it in your life.”

Your “A-Game” partners are innovators – they are continually pushing boundaries and breaking molds. They understand they’re responsible for their lives and results hence they take action in creating the outcomes they want.

One of my “A-Game” partners is a young woman I met a few years ago. Although we come from different backgrounds, we share similar worldviews. To her, the world is binary: If you’re not winning, you’re losing. If you don’t know something, learn it.

Her unique insights and simple approach to life are remarkable. We intrinsically challenge each other to grow further and outdo our pasts.

Do you have an “A-Game” partner? Do you have someone to whom you can peel off your life without the fear of being judged or criticized? Are you carefully choosing your network or are you tiptoeing around with losers?

If you don’t have good people around you, find some. And, don’t just find one, create an army. Immerse yourself in a network of people who inspire you to become better. Remember: Relationships thrive when each party is pulling along. So, don’t just take, give back.

You can overcome failure and missed opportunities

If you’ve experienced failure or missed several opportunities, this is the time rewrite your story. Be patient with yourself as you practice the following three steps: 1) detox your mind, 2) define your priority, and 3) create an “A-Game” partners.

Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your results with who you are. Every failed attempt moves you further. Another thing I want you to remember is that just because someone else is prospering doesn’t make you a failure – focus on your own journey. Invest in yourself, improve your worth, become inspiring. And, the next time an opportunity comes knocking, you’d be ready!

About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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One of the biggest challenges startup founders and small-scale business owners face is maintaining a strong financial infrastructure for their business. According to, one of the most common reasons startups fail is because they mismanaged the funds they had.

This is why we were super excited to host Toro Orero, Managing Partner of the Silicon Valley-based VC fund, DraperDarkFlow and Rebecca Enonchong, Founder of AppsTech and Founding Board Member of the African Business Angel Network (ABAN) and VC4Africa, at April edition of #SFANLiveChat. Our goal was to explore how startup founders can manage and grow their finances.

Here’re lessons we learned about fundraising, bookkeeping, taxation, and founder’s remuneration.

On Fundraising:

The best place to raise money from is your customers

“Of those who submit business plans to venture capital investors, less than one percent will get the money they seek.” — HUFFPOST.

At the early stages of your business when you haven’t validated your concept, it’ll be very difficult to get the attention of lenders or venture capitalists. The traditional belief is that you ask loved one for loans to help you prove your idea and develop a route to market before sending any pitch deck to an investor. “When you have some traction (users, revenue) and are ready to scale,” Rebecca says, “that’s the ideal time to look for external funding.”

However, Toro argues that the right time for fundraising is never! Instead, he says, startup founders should focus on turning their ideas into a business i.e. doing something somebody will pay for. “It’s a tripod stand of beliefs starting with you as the startup, then the market, then the investor — in that order.”

Depending on what your business model is, this can be a great approach to growing your business. Companies that have utilized this formula include Airbnb, Banana Republic, Dell, etc.

               woman using telephone standing near building                        

On Bookkeeping:

Hire an accountant from day one or assume that role with discipline

“The first mistake Startups often make when doing their books is not doing any — until it’s too late.” — Tim Haggard of My Bookkeeping Online.

Majority of startups do not have any form of financial records for their business transactions.


No time — the work piles up until the thought of attending to it is a mental torture in itself.

It’s expensive to hire a professional accountant.

It’s not necessary since they’re not accounting for anyone yet.

“As entrepreneurs, we neglect the back office. We need to get our finances in order from the beginning,” Rebecca says: “You should be obsessive about your bottom line. Join a co-working space/incubator that offers an accountant or you could get together with other entrepreneurs and share one accountant.”

At the early stages of your startup, Toro says, assume that all your personal finances now belong to your company, then work for your company and pay yourself nothing. But, track everything! “Have a financials analytics tool, just the way you have a back-end dashboard for your website/app.”

If you can’t afford specialist accounting software, there are free software and apps like WaveApps that give you great convenience in keeping your books and tracking your cash flow. At very least, you can use excel as it does the sums for you and is pretty easy to manipulate.

As entrepreneurs, we neglect the back office. We need to get our finances in order from the beginning. Click To Tweet

woman using phone while sitting inside the room

On avoiding over taxation:

Focus on getting positive revenue first

Numerous businesses overpay their taxes every year by overlooking various tax deductions — Michael Raanan

Taxation has become a burden to most businesses. But don’t think about it. “That’s overthinking and premature. Get revenue positive first, and then worry about that later. When you get revenue positive, get advice — you may need to reincorporate offshore into a developed market or even stay local. Reincorporate offshore and let your local operational entity be a wholly owned subsidiary of your offshore entity,” Toro advice.

Stripe Atlas is a product that promises to help you incorporate your company in the U.S with a U.S registered bank account, top tax/legal guidance from top American firms, and a free Stripe account for receiving and making payments world over. They’ve partnered with numerous startup accelerators and hubs around Africa to make ease of their acquisition efforts and can be an option for you if you’re looking to incorporate offshore.

“Keep track of all your expenses even transportation. It all adds up,” Rebecca cautions.

If your company is not making great profit margins yet, you have no business paying yourself. Click To Tweet

woman laughing while on call

On founder’s remuneration:

Pay yourself last if at all

“When it comes to paying yourself, there needs to be a fluidity to compensation.” — Ryan Holmes, founder, and CEO of Hootsuite Media Inc.

Founder compensation has been a subject of much debate over the years. “Pay yourself last and pay yourself least. Save salaries for the most talented folks you can find,” Rebecca says.

To give your baby a chance at life, you have to be willing to live a few years of your life like most people won’t in order to live the rest of your life in a manner that most people can’t.

“I’d also add that if your company is not making great profit margins yet, you have no business paying yourself,” Toro buttresses.

As Jay Samit, author of the book “Disrupt Yourself” puts it, “you are getting more than cash compensation from your startup. You are getting to pursue your dream, test your mettle, have creative autonomy and retain a sizable portion of equity. Your lifestyle should be frugal and as bootstrapped as your startup.”

woman using laptop while looking at her left side

Bonus point: We asked Toro and Rebecca what they look for in companies they invest in.

Rebecca: It’s all about the entrepreneur. I want to see that grit, that fire, that determination to succeed no matter what.

Toro: I look for rocket ships, not parked cars. A parked car needs me to take off; a rocket ship will take off regardless of my investment.

In the final analysis, It’s all about the money

The biggest financial mistake startups make is thinking sales are same as cash. “Cash flow is everything,” Rebecca says.

At certain times in the business, you’d be forced to lower your business costs. To avoid hampering customer experience, Toro recommends that:

1. You fire those five average staff and keep that one outstanding one

2. You promise your customer just one thing but do it EPICALLY.

Always remember that money is the lifeblood of a company. If you don’t have money, YOU ARE DEAD. So stay alive.

Were you inspired by this article? Check out this one on how to jumpstart your business success. To be in the know on subsequent Live Chats and events, please subscribe to our mailing list.

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