Learning the Hard Way

Willis Wee
8:18 pm on Nov 19, 2012


This pup will soon know how hot chilli is.

Part of my job allows me to talk to entrepreneurs and dig into their experiences, successes, and failures. The success stories are usually well publicized, but it’s not quite so for the failures. It’s only when you talk to them one-on-one (or talk to someone who the entrepreneur is close with) will you get to learn of their real struggles while building great companies.

It’s always inspiring listening to stories describing successful entrepreneurs, perhaps followed by sudden adversity, and then rebounding with loads of lessons learned on how to build a better company or be a better person.

I realized that most great entrepreneurs learned the hard way. Some even went bankrupt as they risked it all to get their company afloat. Or some became young millionaires but then burned through their money and partied foolishly like there’s no tomorrow.

Most of the stories hit me hard, and if you’re an entrepreneur reading this, I’m sure they are familiar to you as well. I often question what it takes to attain success (whatever your definition is) and I’m sure many entrepreneurs who’re fighting and scrambling out there wonder the same thing too. Obviously, none of us wanna go through the emotional and terrifying ups and downs of having to lose everything before learning the lessons needed in life. To come to think about it, it doesn’t just apply to your career, but also with family, relationships, and friends.

The best and safest way to learn is perhaps through other people’s mistakes. But sometimes, the lessons learned by being a bystander don’t hit hard enough for them to sink in.

At some point in life, I’ll crash and burn too. And hopefully at that point, I could still stand up to continue building companies. Otherwise, I will be living today to my fullest, like the company depended on it. There’s nothing much for me to lose, I think.

Learning the hard way seriously sucks, though sometimes, it is much-needed medicine for you.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

  • Sim

    Thanks! Do your best, no regrets!

  • Poh L.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Who have you spoken to recently?

  • Xiong Bin

    I learn the hard way too. Some troubles are best to experience by ownself. Need to feel it to know it and learn it. Seeing and learning others fail can’t replace it.

  • Dk

    I really like techinasia and value the reporting you guys do. This article is completely obvious and useless though (despite a great picture).

  • Brandon Ng

    Thanks for the inspiring piece. I’m sure aspiring entrepreneurs find it comforting to know that more experienced entrepreneurs too share similar fears and insecurities, and joys and sorrows on the road to building great companies.

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