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Whether you are a small mom and pop business, or a leader of a huge global corporation, mistakes are bound to happen. Failure in business is more common than you’d think. Bouncing back from a bad business deal, faulty product, or unhappy customers is part of running a company. As an entrepreneur, a strong characteristic is getting back up after failure, and especially in the rough times of the economy. These traits of a successful entrepreneur are signs of a great leader; turning failure into success. 


Admitting your mistake is difficult and takes courage. Having the veracity to own up to a mistake is something not too many people can do. Late 2012, United Continental CEO Jeff Smisek admitted to poor airline operations during the summer. He was able to confirm that the problems have been fixed. Avoidance is not a trait of a successful leader.


“Evolution doesn’t linger on past failures; it’s always building upon what worked” – Jason Fried

Especially for startups, the ability to get back up after being smacked down takes a lot of commitment. It is brutal for new CEOs who are new to the game, especially younger business people that are starting their first company. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, offers some insight about starting a company when you are in your 20’s versus in your 40’s.

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley has a life of ups and downs, both in personal life and in business. His first project Dodgeball was sold to Google, and it fizzled out. Now, Foursquare has 20 million users. 


Giving up after a mistake is a good indicator that you might not be cut out for a leadership position. If you truly love your vision, you must eat breathe and sleep for whatever you are doing. As a leader, how are you encouraging the passion of the people around you? Being happy at work is extremely important for the health of the company overall. Tony Hsieh of Zappos helped start a survey to measure happiness at work, called Delivering Happiness at Work. When Starbucks was in trouble, CEO Howard Shultz fell back on his passion for quality coffee and service, and turned the company around. Buy his book Onward for the in-depth story.

What do you think are remarkable traits of CEO’s? We’d love to hear your take on quality traits of leaders and what you think about failing in business. Please discuss below! 

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