Home > Entrepreneurs > Startup Contributor

Dealing With Failure as an Entrepreneur in Latin America

By Ana Ramos - Glitzi
CEO & Co-Founder


By Ana Ramos | CEO & Co-founder - Wed, 02/08/2023 - 12:00

share it

I have always been an overachiever. I was raised in a family where excelling at school, in other extracurricular activities (piano, writing, dancing, even karate) and generally in life was the normal thing to do. Being an overachiever has helped me learn four languages, work in four different continents, get an MBA from a top UK university with full-scholarship, work in VC, build a startup and get VC-funding, become one of the few Latin American female founders in the YC community and more, but it has also made it very difficult for me to deal with failure. 

By definition, as an overachiever, I set high expectations for myself and strive to exceed them. That sounds great in concept, but once you become a founder and dealing with failure is your everyday life, being an overachiever does not help much. Hence, I have had to learn how to develop this skill, which is a very powerful tool for entrepreneurs, now more than ever, in Latin America. 

Starting a business is a challenging and risky endeavor. It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and a willingness to take risks. However, despite the best of intentions, many startups fail. In fact, according to a study by CB Insights, 42% of startups fail. Now, added to this fact, the VC and startup world is experiencing a significant shift; growth at all cost is no longer praised and sustainable growth (as it always should have been) is now expected. This shift together with a difficult fundraising environment, is already accelerating failure in the startup world. 

More than ever, it is key for Latin American founders to learn to deal with failure. However, how failure is not only processed by founders but perceived in the ecosystem is among  the biggest gaps between the Latin American startup ecosystem and other more developed ecosystems, such as Europe and Silicon Valley, and it needs to be closed . In other, more developed startup ecosystems, failure is seen as a natural part of the startup journey. In fact, there are many successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who have failed multiple times before finding success. Meanwhile in Latin America, after the first strokes of the startup crisis (layoffs and startup shutdowns), you can see all over Linkedin how many people are vilifying startup founders. This needs to change but, before talking about how we can change the perception of failure in the Latin American ecosystem (a topic for a whole new post), I want to try to help fellow entrepreneurs. So, if you are a founder in Latin America and you are struggling to deal with failure, here is how I have learned (and I am still learning) to develop this skill. 

Change Your Perception of Failure

The key to dealing with failure is to see it not as the end but as the beginning. Failure could be the beginning of a learning journey to grow and improve. Failure opens the chance to reassess goals, strategies and approaches. When you fail, do not try to immediately bury that failure, learn from it. Failure is a valuable teacher, and the lessons you learn can help you avoid making the same mistakes again in the future. Take time to reflect on what went wrong, and identify the areas where you need to improve. This will help you become a better entrepreneur and increase your chances of success in the future.

This change of mindset on how to see failure is easier to write than to do, so here are some practical actions that you can take to better embrace this new mindset. 

Seek Out Help and Support

This can come in the form of a mentor, a support group, or a business coach. A mentor can provide valuable guidance and advice, and a support group can offer encouragement and motivation. A business coach can help you develop and implement effective strategies for success.

Have a Supporting Network

In my journey as an entrepreneur, getting into YC was the best thing that could happen to me, not because of the funding and the learning experience (that was a plus), but because of the network of brilliant entrepreneurs I had access to. I made some of my best friends in that network, whom I can now talk to about the challenges at Glitzi and get ideas on how to solve them. 

Practice Other Activities to Keep Perspective

Besides being an overachiever, I am a workaholic. In my worst phases, I have done nothing but work 12-15 hours per day (including weekends). Obviously ,this is terrible for my productivity and mental health because I burn out. Ironically, one of the things that helps me increase my productivity is to do other activities (nothing related to my startup), especially those related to socializing or being in nature. Doing other activities on a daily basis will make you remember that there is a world outside your startup.

Exercise to Keep a Positive Attitude

If you have heard about Phil Stutz and The Tools, you will probably be familiar with the idea that your relationship with your body, people and yourself are key for you to keep moving forward. He says that your relationship with your body is the most important one of all. He recommends exercising, eating well and sleeping well before anything else. If you do this, you have 85% of the work done to maintain a positive attitude. 

Focus on Your Goals to Be Resilient

It's also essential to stay focused on your goals and maintain a clear vision of what you want to achieve. This will help you stay motivated and on track, even when things get tough. Additionally, it's important to be adaptable and open to change. The startup landscape is constantly changing, and being able to pivot and adjust your approach when necessary is crucial for success.

Being an entrepreneur is a challenging and risky endeavor, and failure is a natural part of the process. However, by keeping a positive attitude, being resilient, staying focused on your goals, learning from your failures, seeking out help and support and keeping things in perspective, you can overcome obstacles and deal with failure in the startup world. Failure is not the end, it's an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve. Remember that every failure is an opportunity to come back stronger and more prepared for the next challenge.

Photo by:   Ana Ramos

You May Like

Most popular