How to fail brilliantly

Failure comes at a cost, but use it to your advantage says drinks boss Steve Perez.

by Stephen Jones
Last Updated: 04 Mar 2019

Failure can be a touchy subject for CEOs. A project gone wrong can cost money, hours and even reputation. But failure also offers the chance to innovate and learn from your mistakes.

It’s a concept Steve Perez, the founder and CEO of drinks manufacturer Global Brands, is more than familiar with. In the fast paced market of ready-to-drink beverages, where Global Brands has had many big successes such as alcopop VK and tequila-infused beer Amigos, Perez admits that he’s been left licking his wounds on more than one occasion - and that’s okay.


"We launched a product called Buddy's Bourbon Beer in 2013. It ticked a number of boxes so felt like a good avenue to explore. It was on trend in that bourbon was growing in popularity,  and it crossed over with some of our other products in the speers (spirits mixed with beers) category that were incredibly popular.

"It received good listings from the suppliers, but for some reason it didn’t sell too well with consumers and we discontinued the line. Sometimes a product can enter the market too early.

"You've got to prepared to fail and then you've got to be prepared to pick through the bones and ask what you've learnt from that.

"We spent a year and around £250,000 bringing it to market for it to ultimately bomb, but we learnt a lot more about spirits and accrued a lot of knowledge that we’ve used for our other brands that we are now launching over the next year."

Perez provides his top tops for learning from failure:

Find a balance: "If you try to create too many products at once you'll lose focus on every brand you launch."

Create a culture of failure: "I’ve found that some of the most innovative ideas have come from my staff, so you also have to let them know that it is okay to fail. If they think they are going to be judged they will stop contributing ideas."

Weigh up the risk: "Ultimately it’s about weighing up what the cost of a potential failure could be to the business before you go ahead with it. I see it as like putting a bet on a horse. You wouldn't bet your house on it would you? If not, why take the risk."

Further Reading

For more tips on how to make the most of failure, read this piece from author Chris Dyer. Alternatively, here are 10 examples from the Management Today archive of entrepreneurs who have turned their failures into successes. Finally, to find out why success undermines purpose, click here.


Image credit: seb_ra/Gettyimages

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