With Easter fast approaching thoughts have no doubt turned to all things chocolatey. However, for many, Easter is about new beginnings, which includes us here at MPA Group and many of the businesses we work alongside. New beginnings form an important part of the innovation cycle. A cycle which involves the exploration of new and untried ways of working, which may initially be unsuccessful, but, which sees processes reviewed and fine-tuned in order to develop a truly innovative product or service.
So while the road to success can be full of ups and downs, it’s important to recognise the lessons of failure. Whether that is the determination to try again, improved learnings, or even the understanding that failed innovation projects still qualify for R&D tax credits, failure by no means is the end.
Keeping with the theme of new beginnings, we’ve taken a look at some of the world’s highest profiles innovators and charted their journey to success.
Having started his first business in 1966, Richard Branson is forever recognised as ‘Mr Virgin’. It’s no surprise when you consider he’s actually launched 400 companies under the Virgin name, of which some have been huge failures. Some of the most notable have been Virgin Vodka, Virgin Cosmetics, Virginware and not forgetting Virgin Pulse and Virgin Digital, which were Branson’s answer to the iPod and iTunes respectively.
Of course, it’s not all been about Virgin’s failed attempts; Richard Branson has successfully sustained the triumph of the Virgin brand for over 40 years, creating eight hugely successful businesses in eight sectors, with an enterprise value of more than $1billion. And as the man himself says:
You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling overRichard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group
Synonymous with Microsoft, and deemed one of the most successful businessmen of our generation, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all been plain sailing in the business world for Bill Gates. However, creating a big household name isn’t without its challenges.
Having dropped out of Harvard University in the Seventies, Bill set up Traf-O-Data, with the objective to collect and read raw data from roadway traffic counters and create reports for traffic engineers. Many feel that the business’ less than moderate success was a result of the technology being ahead of its time. Yet, while the failure of a first business may have been enough to discourage less discerning entrepreneurs, Bill took these learnings with him; and, driven by his passion for computer programming created Microsoft, making him the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, and the rest, as they say, is history.
James Dyson is a huge advocate of failure, citing it as an essential part of the inventing process, offering a step towards a truly innovative solution. Having launched his first dual cyclone vacuum cleaner in 1993, a popular redesign inspired by giant cyclones used to get rid of wood dust in a sawmill, James has gone on to become a huge supporter of British engineering, opening a second technology campus recently.
However, behind the scenes it hasn’t always been easy. It actually took James a total of 15 years and some 5,126 failed versions of his popular vacuum before developing one that worked to become the huge success we recognise as Dyson. Speaking on the importance of failure, James is widely quoted as saying:
Enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from success.James Dyson, Founder at Dyson
So, while for many Easter is all about the calorie overload there some very important lessons to be learnt about the importance of failure, and the ability to start again despite setbacks. After all, as Henry Ford said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
When the road to success for many innovators is often met with failure, here at MPA we understand businesses can really fuel growth by maximising their R&D tax relief claim. Maximising claim values even for those R&D projects which weren’t successful.
Our team of technical analysts provide real-world deep sector experience, which means they can quickly and easily understand the ins and outs of your product and service development activity and are able to make sure your business is claiming its full entitlement to R&D tax relief.