• Susanne Birgersdotter

In many of my dialogues and talks with women, I noticed that what my audience wants to hear the most are my personal stories. My businesses, my struggles, my small anecdotes about my family, and how I managed to survive and thrive in a man’s world – business.

A woman CEO is still a rarity, a self-made woman CEO much so. I will not undercut the struggles that I’ve overcome in order to achieve what I am today, nor will I discount the gifts and lucky strikes that have made my journey a lot easier. I think I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time, but I was also entrepreneurial enough to recognize the opportunities when presented and brave take the risk and turn it into a business.

I was lucky to be raised by an entrepreneurial father. His business adventures exposed me to the possibilities of building a career on your own terms. His failures were my first lessons on resiliency and persistence. But, despite that, I was a woman on my own. I may be my father’s daughter, but my business journey is all my own.

Looking back, I realize my journey hasn’t been an easy one. And this is something common to all entrepreneurs. The stories of successful businesspeople are always fraught with hardships. You see, success is not about how easy your journey is, it’s how you overcame failure and stand back up again. There is no easy way. It’s either you look back and see how you’ve successfully overcame obstacles, or you look back and see where in the journey you decided to quit.

Quitting is the quickest way to fail. The successful don’t quit, they rest. So, I failed my way to entrepreneurship.

I wasn’t a good student, in the sense that, studying and working my way to have my name on the top of the honor roll aren’t my thing. I was more street smart than intelligent. Many times, I feel like I was wasting my time in school and there were a lot of things I would rather do. At the stage in life when the measure of success were good grades and academic awards, I was failing.

I wasn’t a good partner too. I’ve had a few relationships – good ones and bad ones, some memorable and others regrettable. But, I’ve never held back in any of those. I gave my all and throw my entire self into the relationship, believing that it is the big love of my life. And then, one way or another, those relationships ended.

A lot of my business ventures didn’t make it. Some failed miserably, some didn’t even make the launch. I can blame my naiveté on some and carelessness in many of those failures. If there’s anything I learned from these failures, it is that blaming others on one’s failures is useless, harmful, and very counterproductive. Instead of chasing other people for your downfall, learn the lesson and get back up wiser.

Success is embracing failures, knowing that they are inevitable and part of the process. Know also that people do not go about displaying their failures. We simply learn from it and move on. So, stop comparing your journey to others, you won’t see us harping about our failures, only our wins. If you think you’re failing while the others are winning, think again.

Every once in a while, along that road of failures comes a win. Although they come in trickles compared to the deluge of failures, the good thing about wins is that you get to keep them. With the right amount of nurturing, you can grow and multiply a win. You can also keep holding on to failures, but then, you will have your hands too full to get a grasp of any incoming opportunities. Acknowledging and letting go of a failure is not a sign of giving up, it is a way of making room for better opportunities.

I can think of business success as a percentage game – the more tries you do, the more chances of succeeding. The more learning opportunities you have, the better you are at the game. The more experience you acquire, the higher your percentage at success.

So, yes, I welcome failure as I’m sure a win is one step closer to me.