Failure is not a dirty word

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Failure is not a dirty word

The idea of a “challenge” evokes a mysterious sense of excitement. Repeated challenges after failures are more dramatic. Painful experiences may leave a fear of failure, but this is different from how those who have never failed may feel. The second time around, people who did not succeed at first have a strategy to avoid failing again.

That’s what those who gathered at the Hyundai Training Center in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi, on Nov. 21 thought. They had challenged themselves by launching start-ups in the information and communication technologies (ICT) field more than once, and dreamed of trying a second time by participating in the “Re-challenge: Come Back Camp” hosted by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

Choi Yong-il, a 46-year-old who is preparing his fourth start-up, said, “After my business failed, I delivered kimchi and worked as a part-time driver to make ends meet. But my experiences of failures are now my assets. I may fail again, but I am confident I won’t be easily discouraged.”

The participants shared their experiences of failure and their future vision in the previous three camp sessions. This time, they were divided into 15 teams and competed for the best entrepreneurial ideas. Choi’s team won.

This kind of competition and the idea of trying again is exactly what the government’s entrepreneur-supporting policy should have focused on. Until now, young entrepreneurs’ business start-ups were the core of the policy. It was a way to lower the serious youth unemployment.

However, young Koreans in their 20s and 30s may find that starting a business is a burden. The country’s educational system does not encourage start-ups. Aspiring entrepreneurs are often considered a nuisance at home and make unattractive candidates for marriage. It is rare to find a Korean who grew up like Steve Jobs, who played with machines in his father’s garage and developed his business ideas with the Homebrew Computer Club.

Instead, people who have learned from failures will have a higher possibility of success. The government should endorse contests if it wants to promote entrepreneurship. But the support should not be about giving out money.

Instead, the government should establish policies that will become the roots of an entrepreneurial eco-system. Crowdfunding for great ideas should be allowed. The collective disdain for failure, which is an obstacle for those who want to try again, should be removed.

Training programs and shelter for those who failed in business should be provided. Our goal is to create a community that cheers up those who failed, not to promote start-ups.

The author is a deputy business news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 26, Page 34

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