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Meet The ‘Shop King’: How Tang Shing-bor Became A Billionaire Flipping Hong Kong’s Derelict Properties

Tins Plaza was an eyesore, a run-down, abandoned plastics factory in the Tuen Mun district when Tang Shing-bor first spotted it. To Tang, though, it was a gem, one of many forgotten industrial buildings sprinkled around Hong Kong, well worth the roughly $36 million he paid for it in 2005. But even he couldn’t have foreseen that just two years later he would triple his money on it.

It was by snapping up derelict industrial properties like Tins Plaza, flipping them or redeveloping them, that Tang went from the verge of insolvency in 2003 to billionaire in 2016, when he first made the list of Hong Kong’s richest. Now at 86 and No. 14 on the list with a net worth of $5.7 billion, Tang is making one of his biggest contrarian bets yet.

Despite months of protests casting a pall over the city’s property market, Tang has embarked on a shopping spree of Hong Kong’s industrial buildings, spending $700 million last year. He ranks as the biggest buyer of Hong Kong industrial properties in 2019, according to data from New York-based research firm, Real Capital Analytics.

This is the best opportunity I’ve ever seen,” says Tang in a rare interview, held at one of his buildings in Hong Kong’s bustling Mong Kok district, just blocks from where some of the most violent scenes of unrest have taken place. During the interview, Tang is multitasking, juggling phone calls from brokers, developers and lawyers. He is negotiating his next purchase, a dilapidated building next to the city’s old Kai Tak airport, which the government is auctioning off for redevelopment. To Tang, Hong Kong’s political turmoil is only creating better bargains. “We will move on from this,” he says.

Property is only the latest of Tang’s several incarnations in a career that traces Hong Kong’s own development.

At his side is the youngest of his five sons from two marriages, Stan Tang Yiu-sing, 34, chairman of the holding company he and his father established in 2013 and named Stan Group. Tang Sr., whose title is honorable chairman, remains very involved, and the two meet twice a day. Stan oversees new businesses and redevelopment of properties. Tang still cuts the property deals. “I make the final decisions,” says Tang in a booming baritone that belies his age.

Known in Hong Kong’s real estate circles as “Uncle Bor,” property is only the latest of Tang’s several incarnations in a career that traces Hong Kong’s own development—from neon bulb maker in the 1950s, to 1970s restaurateur, to earning the moniker “shop king” for his string of retail spaces—a foray that almost broke him.

Today, Tang is renowned for his knack of spotting remnants of Hong Kong’s bygone days as a manufacturing hub, its disused factories and warehouses, in areas poised for gentrification. That expertise is attracting eager partners, including Hong Kong’s Chinese Estates Holdings and Yangzhou-based Jiayuan International, which have both set up joint ventures with Stan Group to redevelop its industrial properties. “He’s very effective and experienced in converting these building sites,” says Joseph Lam, associate director of industrial services at Colliers International.

Tang has never feared failure. His father died when he was 5 and he was raised by his mother, who took a low-paying job in a factory to support them. “I had to come up with creative ways to survive,” he says. Tang recalls loitering outside restaurants when he was hungry, waiting for handouts. Growing up poor gave him grit: well into his 70s, he kept in shape with dawn swims beyond the shark net off Hong Kong’s shore. “There’s always a way,” he says. “There’s never a problem that can’t be solved.”

With only a primary school education, Tang became an apprentice in 1950 to an electrician making neon signs, and in his 20s opened his own store catering to then-booming demand for the bright storefront marquees that remain one of Hong Kong’s hallmarks. Neon success enabled Tang in 1970 to open a dim sum eatery with friends. That led to a string of restaurant investments, including a seafood restaurant in Sydney, that Tang would in 1982 consolidate as the East Ocean Gourmet Group, which is still thriving today. The 1980s saw Tang branch out into a flurry of new businesses, including a used car dealership. But it was buying and selling shops where Tang made his mark. “Looking after the restaurant exposed him to news of nearby shops,” says Stan. One of his most notable investments in the following years would be the purchase in 1990 of an old restaurant building that he would transform into the renowned Mongkok Computer Centre.

“I’m optimistic about Hong Kong’s future,” says Tang. “I’ve seen ups and downs. There are opportunities out of risks. This is my chance—my turn.”

Tang Shing-bor

By 1997, Tang had amassed more than 200 shops worth roughly HK$7.3 billion ($942 million) and began planning an IPO, only to be thwarted by the Asian financial crisis. Hong Kong’s property market fell 70% between 1997 and 2004 as the crisis was followed by the outbreak of SARS in 2003. By 2004, with HK$4 billion in debt, Tang began selling most of his portfolio, including his prized Mongkok Computer Centre.

More from Forbes: Hong Kong’s New No. 1: Lee Shau Kee Edges Out Li Ka-Shing As City’s Richest Person

What he didn’t sell, however, was a smattering of industrial space he began buying in 1996 to hedge against volatile retail rental yields. And Tang knew just where to buy. Hong Kong had decided in 1990 to close Kai Tak and build a new, larger airport on Lantau Island. So Tang focused on Tuen Mun, a neighborhood directly across a bay from the new airport and connected by road to Hong Kong’s nearest neighbor in mainland China, the fast-growing city of Shenzhen.

Tang starts drawing a rough map: “Let me tell you about the factories on San Hop Lane,” he says as he sketches out the streets and buildings around his first purchase, Tuen Mun’s Oi Sun Centre. Tang bought the former factory in foreclosure for HK$42 million in 2004.

Up the street was Tins Plaza, the retired plastics factory named for its former owner, chemical tycoon-turned-philanthropist Tin Ka-ping. Tang picked up the building in early 2005 for HK$280 million, putting HK$28 million in cash down and borrowing the rest from banks using another of his buildings as collateral.

Six months later, Tang says he received a call from an industrial property unit of Australia’s Macquarie Bank, Macquarie Goodman, offering him HK$500 million for the building. By October, he had a second offer, for HK$520 million, from Singapore property investment fund Mapletree. “But that’s not even the best part,” Tang says.

Faced with rival offers, Tang chose neither. Commercial property commands a higher price than industrial property, he reasoned, so he had Tins Plaza rezoned as commercial. Two years later, Tang found himself in an elevator to Macquarie’s offices in Hong Kong’s International Finance Centre to meet an executive who had flown in from Sydney with a new offer. “The gweilo [foreigner] boss was a handsome man,” Tang says. “He was very straightforward and asked me whether I’d be willing to sell for HK$850 million.” Macquarie in 2008 sold its stake in Macquarie Goodman to its joint venture partner, Goodman Group. Both Macquarie and Goodman declined to comment on the deal.

Tang’s prediction had come true: demand for Hong Kong’s old industrial space had indeed rebounded—not, as he foresaw, because of the new airport, but because of surging demand for the data and fulfillment centers needed to provide cloud services and e-commerce. “There are new technologies like data center users going into warehouses,” says Samuel Lai, senior director at property services firm CBRE in Hong Kong. Tang sold Macquarie Tins Plaza, earning HK$570 million on his HK$280 million investment. “Tins Plaza was the most memorable transaction I’ve ever made,” he says.

But Tang wasn’t resting on his laurels. After seeing the offers roll in for Tins Plaza, he set about buying another former factory down the street, the Gold Sun Industrial Building. Unlike his previous two deals, Gold Sun had several owners, each requiring separate negotiations. Tang bought the first of the building’s eight stories in 2006; he wouldn’t manage to clinch the eighth until 2014. “I bought it floor by floor,” says Tang.

Tang’s timing proved impeccable. Eager to boost the supply of property for offices, hotels and shopping, Hong Kong’s government in April 2010 implemented incentives to redevelop disused industrial properties. The so-called revitalization scheme lifted restrictions on how large a building developers could build on land converted from industrial use. The result: Factory prices surged 152% between the policy’s launch and early 2016, when the government ended the incentive. “The best initiative that came out and led to a lot of transactions was the relaxation on the plot ratio,” says CBRE’s Lai.

Tang got another lift in 2013, when the government announced the start of construction on a tunnel linking the new airport and Tuen Mun. Tang combined his Oi Sun Centre and Gold Sun Industrial Building into a single development, One Vista, a two-tower office building and shopping complex. In May 2018, he bundled One Vista with two other Hong Kong properties and sold roughly 70% to Jiayuan International for HK$2.6 billion.

Tang has left Mong Kok to head downtown to his East Ocean Lafayette restaurant overlooking Victoria Harbor. Nibbling on fried turnip cake dipped in spicy Cantonese seafood sauce, he is closely shadowed by two lawyers sipping tea at the next table and waiting their turn to update him on his deal near Kai Tak. Uncle Bor has already managed to buy 73% of the buildings near the old airport, just 7% away from the threshold at which he can legally compel the remaining owners to sell. Redevelopment of Kai Tak stands to boost property values around the area. And a new revitalization scheme, launched last year, has lifted limits yet again on how big developers can build on converted sites. If and when Tang clinches ownership, he and his partner for the property, Chinese Estate Holdings, will be able to knock down the existing building, and build a new one with 14 times as much saleable space.

“I’m optimistic about Hong Kong’s future,” says Tang. “I’ve seen ups and downs. There are opportunities out of risks. This is my chance—my turn.”

After returning to Hong Kong from university in the U.K. 15 years ago, Stan Tang Yiu-sing opened an ad agency with friends. Soon, though, he was working with his father, Tang Shing-bor, learning the real estate business and building property management and leasing firms. In 2013, he and his father set up Stan Group to integrate the family’s real estate investments with his service offerings. Stan now chairs the group and oversees the conversion of the older buildings his father buys into modern retail and commercial properties.

“Pure property investment is no longer our only single investment direction,” says Stan, who has joined the shift among Asian property executives from asset-focused development into service-oriented offerings—hospitality, co-working spaces and incubation hubs. Stan Group now operates six hotel brands with a combined 3,500 rooms. In 2016 it launched an innovation hub for entrepreneurs, called “The Wave.”

Stan has also steered Stan Group into financial services, a private members’ club, and serviced apartments catering to the elderly. “The government has given us policies that present us an opportunity to reposition ourselves,” Stan says, echoing his father’s confidence in Hong Kong’s future as part of the greater bay area comprising Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The 34-year-old plans to list five of the group’s companies by 2023, though the property representing 90% of Stan Group’s assets will remain private, he says. Stan says his aim is to grow non-property businesses to someday represent at least half of the group’s total assets.

Pamela covers entrepreneurs, wealth, blockchain and the crypto economy as a senior reporter across digital and print platforms. Prior to Forbes, she served as on-air foreign correspondent for Thomson Reuters’ broadcast team, during which she reported on global markets, central bank policies, and breaking business news. Before Asia, she was a journalist at NBC Comcast, and started her career at CNBC and Bloomberg as a financial news producer in New York. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and holds an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo, USA Today, Huffington Post, and Nasdaq. Pamela’s previous incarnation was on the buy side in M&A research and asset management, inspired by Michael Lewis’ book “Liar’s Poker”. Follow me on Twitter at @pamambler

Source: Meet The ‘Shop King’: How Tang Shing-bor Became A Billionaire Flipping Hong Kong’s Derelict Properties

An interview with Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing. In this interview Li Ka-shing discusses his early interest in business, why cash flow is the most important thing and building his companies, CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Property Holdings. Li Ka-shing also talks of his foundation, Li Ka Shing Foundation, and the philosophy behind it. Like if you enjoyed Subscribe for more:http://bit.ly/InvestorsArchive Follow us on twitter:http://bit.ly/TwitterIA Other great Entrepreneur videos:⬇ Larry Ellison’s in depth interview on his Life and Success: http://bit.ly/LEllisonVid Jeff Bezos on Amazon, Business and Life/Work:http://bit.ly/JeffBezosVid Bill Gates on Business, Microsoft and Early Life: http://bit.ly/BillGatesVid Video Segments: 0:00 Introduction 1:50 Careful with cash flow 2:25 Is cash flow the most important thing? 3:03 How did you educate yourself? 5:13 Beating the competition? 6:27 Yangtze river metaphor 7:33 Management style 8:52 Always half an hour early 10:27 Rich before 30 but unhappy 13:00 Leaving money to a foundation 13:47 Building the Tsz Shan monastery 14:40 Combining western and buddhist influences 17:05 Inequality in Hong Kong 18:47 When are you retiring? 21:46 Will it be the same without you? Interview Date: 29th June, 2016 Event: Bloomberg Original Image Source:http://bit.ly/LiKaShingPic Investors Archive has videos of all the Investing/Business/Economic/Finance masters. Learn from their wisdom for free in one place.

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Warren Buffett Is Selling His Newspaper Empire After Lamenting Industry Is ‘Toast’

Warren Buffett attends the Forbes Media Centennial Celebration at Pier 60 on September 19, 2017 in New York City.

Warren Buffett is getting out of the newspaper business. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to sell its BH Media unit and its 30 daily newspapers to Lee Enterprises Inc., which owns papers including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for $140 million in cash. Lee has been managing the papers for Buffett’s company since 2018, and Berkshire is loaning Lee the money for the purchase.

Buffett, who got a job delivering papers as a teenager and invested in the industry to capitalize on its one-time local advertising stronghold, lamented last year that most newspapers are “toast.” BH Media, which owns papers across the country, has been cutting jobs for years to cope with declining ad revenue.

“We had zero interest in selling the group to anyone else for one simple reason: We believe that Lee is best positioned to manage through the industry’s challenges,” Buffett said in a statement Wednesday.

In 2018, Buffett acknowledged that he was surprised that the decline in demand for newspapers hadn’t let up and that his company hadn’t found a successful strategy to combat falling advertising and circulation. That same year, U.S. newspaper circulation dropped to its lowest levels since 1940, according to the Pew Research Center.

The Lee sale will include Buffett’s hometown Omaha World-Herald and Buffalo News, a paper he’s owned for more than four decades, along with 49 weekly publications and a number of other print products, the companies said in the statement. Lee’s shares jumped on the news, more than doubling to $2.78 at 9:51 a.m. in New York.

Lee Loan

Berkshire is lending Lee $576 million at a 9% annual rate for the purchase and to refinance other debt. Excluded from the sale is BH Media’s real estate, which Lee is leasing under a 10-year agreement.

It’s a rare move for the conglomerate as Buffett has long said that he prefers to hold onto businesses. The newspaper deal, however, is Berkshire’s second divestiture in less than a year, including the sale of an insurance business in late 2019. Berkshire has held onto other old-fashioned businesses, including door-to-door vacuum-cleaner business Kirby Co. and encyclopedia publisher World Book.

Aside from a few bright spots, such as the largely thriving New York Times Co., the newspaper business is in crisis across the U.S. McClatchy Co. — which owns about 30 newspapers, including the Miami Herald and Charlotte Observer — is fighting to avoid bankruptcy as it contends with pension obligations and debt. The Salt Lake Tribune became a nonprofit last year, after failing to find a profitable business model.

As print advertising has cratered in recent years amid the rise of social media, Craigslist and search ads, private equity firms and hedge funds have swooped in to take advantage of newspapers’ steady though dwindling revenue streams.

New Media Investment Group Inc., controlled by private equity firm Fortress Investment Group LLC, bought USA Today owner Gannett Co. last year to form the largest U.S. newspaper chain. The deal spurred apprehension in journalism circles given New Media’s reputation for newsroom layoffs, though the new Gannett leadership pledged to avoid widespread job cuts.

––With assistance from Gerry Smith.

By Katherine Chiglinsky and John J. Edwards III / Bloomberg

January 29, 2020

Source: Warren Buffett Is Selling His Newspaper Empire After Lamenting Industry Is ‘Toast’

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OxyContin’s Sackler Family Will Get Millions From A Ski Resort Operator’s Sale

Vail Resorts, a publicly traded operator of ski resorts, announced on Monday it would acquire Peak Resorts for $11 per share, all cash, which is more than double its $5.10 per share closing price, one day prior to the announcement. Peak Resorts operates 17 ski resorts, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest, including Alpine Valley in Ohio and Hunter Mountain in upstate New York.

One major beneficiary of the acquisition: the Sacklers, the family behind Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of pain drug OxyContin. According to Peak Resorts’ latest annual proxy from October 2018, its largest shareholder is CAP 1 LLC, a company wholly owned by Sackler brothers Richard and Jonathan.

The Sacklers’ nearly 40% ownership stake, which includes preferred stock and stock warrants, is worth about  $87 million based on the transaction. Some of the shares are owned by the charitable Sackler Foundation. The Sacklers became investors in Peak Resorts as early as August 2015.

Richard is the former chairman and president of Purdue Pharma. His brother, Jonathan, is a former board member. Nearly every state has filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and its owners, including eight Sackler family members, alleging the company caused a nationwide public health crisis around opioid addiction and opioid overdose deaths. One lawsuit alleges that Purdue Pharma had brought in more than $35 billion in revenues since 1995.

The Sacklers, worth an estimated $13 billion based largely on the value of Purdue Pharma, built their fortune primarily through sales of OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller that has been called by the medical establishment one of the root causes for the nationwide opioid addiction epidemic.

Purdue Pharma owns the patent for OxyContin, and is the only manufacturer of the drug. According to Symphony Health Solutions, a healthcare and pharmaceutical data analytics company, roughly 80% of Purdue Pharma’s sales come from OxyContin. Due to the widespread rise in use of prescription and nonprescription opioids, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017.

The family used to be known for being generous benefactors of museums and universities worldwide, but their moniker has lost its luster. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City announced in May it would turn down money from the Sackler family, though it will still carry the family name in the Sackler Wing. In July, the Louvre Museum in Paris reportedly removed the Sackler name from its Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities.

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Angel Au-Yeung has been a reporter on staff at Forbes Magazine since 2017. She covers the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs and tracks how they use their money and power.

Source: OxyContin’s Sackler Family Will Get Millions From A Ski Resort Operator’s Sale

He Sold His First Business To Google And Just Raised $120 Million For His Next Startup

Ray Reddy

Ray Reddy has raised millions of dollars in startup funds, sold a company to Google and is taking on the local business gauntlet in an innovative new way. Yet, he chose to exit Google and Silicon Valley to launch his latest venture.

In his exclusive interview on the DealMakers Podcast, Ray Reddy shared the pros and cons of the valley and his fundraising strategies.

The Art of Business

Always curious, Ray wondered if business was like math and science.  He attended the University of Waterloo to study computer science, then a Masters of Business and Entrepreneurship and Technology.

He says he learned some good foundational principles, how to approach complicated problems, and how to learn quickly. Yet, when entering the business world he found that very little of what he learned had any practical knowledge of applicability. He says “it’s much more about common sense and experience than it is about definitive approaches and how to solve some of these problems.”

After school he went straight into corporate strategy at BlackBerry, doing M&A and venture investments. Yet, he has always not only had a lifelong craving for learning, but a passion for building something and building something that he found had a purpose.

What Google Gets about M&A

The mobile phone was starting to consume other portable electronics. It quickly began to absorb portable navigation, portable GPS, handheld units, and portable media players. Yet, no one seemed to be addressing it. Ray Reddy decided to go solve it himself and built a team of people to go after it.

That startup became PushLife.

Prior to the iPhone, they focused on building an experience that made it very easy for people to move content back and forth between their phone and their computers, specifically music. It took normal phones, and it gave them an iPod-like experience on Android, BlackBerry, and Nokia. PushLife ended up licensing software to major carriers.

It was so successful it was acquired by Google. After the acquisition, he was at Google for four years. First in the Canadian Google office in Waterloo. Then out in Mountain View at Google‘s headquarters.

He ended up running the mobile commerce team for one of their products. Then towards the end, Ray was actually part of the launch team for Google Shopping Express, which was their same-day delivery effort in retail.

The difference with companies like Google, according to Ray, is that they do hundreds of acquisitions a year. They really turn it into a mass production factory. It’s very organized. There are no games. They are very straight-up. From Ray‘s perspective, it doesn’t feel like anyone is trying to overly optimize a negotiation. It makes a lot of sense because the transaction is the beginning of the relationship.

Ray‘s opinion is that Google‘s M&A process is designed in a way to get a group of people that are energized and that deliver a lot of value over the upcoming years. Contrast that with some other acquisition approaches and the result is quite different.

Eventually, Ray found a big new problem to solve. He ultimately concluded that structurally, a big company wasn’t set up to solve this problem, even with all the resources a company like Google has.

Toronto vs. The Valley

Ray moved his founding team to Toronto. Not that the Valley isn’t a really interesting place. He says “On one hand, it is the capital of technology worldwide, but I think there’s also some really weird dynamics there.” The biggest one being that you’ve got a very high concentration of very wealthy people, and they’re all early adopters.

He points to the collapse of the entire on-demand space, everything from on-demand valets to cleaning services several years ago, and a massive false-positive from the Valley.

Because when you have places like Palo Alto where average household incomes are north of $2 million, you can fool yourself into thinking that there are enough people who will pay a big premium for convenience.

As Ray states, “the types of investors living in the Valley are not at all sensitive to paying a $10 delivery fee for having a $10 item brought to them.“ That doesn’t seem weird to them. When you look across average neighborhoods and cities in North America, that’s not necessarily true. You lose sight of that in the Valley. You lose sight of the average person.

Ray says “So, if you’re trying to build a mass market consumer product, you just have to be very careful of false-positives that can come from something working in the Valley“

Then the team went and looked at the reality of building talent there, and hiring, and cost, and a lot of those other things. They decided to move to Toronto instead.

Fundraising Strategy

Ray’s latest startup is Ritual which is a social ordering app that taps into networks of co-workers and colleagues for fast and easy pick-up and pay at a wide variety of local restaurants and coffee shops.

He has already raised $120 million in capital. Greylock led the Series A out of the Valley. Insight did the Series B out of New York. Georgian Partners led the C round out of Toronto.

Rather than waiting until funds are imminently needed to close a round, he says “I think about it differently which is you should always be talking to investors. Always having an ongoing conversation with investors.”

He’s always talking to the next stage of investors and trying to build that relationship. Fundraising comes down to trust, and do they trust your judgment? Do they trust that you can do what you say you’re going to do?

For Ritual, it’s never been about the investor that gives the highest valuation. It has been about who do you want to work with and who do you want to build this company with and spend time with.

He’s had a relationship with each one of those investors for about 9 to 12 months before the round. When it came time for fundraising, it was a no-brainer each time.

Today Ritual has a team of about 300 people globally.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • The process of selling your company to Google
  • Benefits of launching in cities outside of Silicon Valley
  • Ways to build relationships with investors
  • Success factors behind marketplaces
  • Retention as the critical factor for ultimate success in business

Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and author of best-seller The Art of Startup Fundraising, a book that offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.

I am a serial entrepreneur and the author of the The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley

Source: He Sold His First Business To Google And Just Raised $120 Million For His Next Startup

How to Develop a Positive Relationship With Failure

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Entrepreneurs love few things more than their own ideas. These sparks of inspiration fuel the endless hours entrepreneurs devote to their businesses, and they compel investors to open their wallets in the hopes of making these ideas come to fruition. But even the greatest ideas can’t overcome fundamental flaws.

In 2017 alone, many concept-fueled businesses have shut their doors. Beepi, a used car marketplace, was founded on a great idea but stumbled under bad prioritization. Quixey, a digital app assistant, folded as competition flooded the market. Yik Yak, an anonymous social network whose popularity was underscored by its young user base and a valuation nearing $400 million at its peak, shut down after cyberbullies ran rampant.

The failures of these well-funded companies sent ripples throughout the startup world. But failure itself isn’t the problem — the inability to let go of a beloved idea is. Being an entrepreneur is all about having a healthy relationship with failure.

Failing to fail.

Many entrepreneurs are so fearful of ultimately failing to create a profitable and sustainable company that they overlook the smaller failures that litter the path to success. Failure can also be found in the lackluster marketing campaigns, ill-conceived software updates and rushed hiring decisions that occur while trying to realize an idea.

I’ve fallen in love with a lot of ideas, but I eventually gave up or put on hold the ones whose weaknesses became so noticeable that even I couldn’t deny them. For example, my company, ONTRAPORT, held Implementation Days to provide strategy, copy and design services to support our clients in launching successful marketing campaigns. We knew small business owners would benefit from this additional insight on top of the capabilities our software tools offered.

This concierge service program met with some real success; we had a few deeply happy customers who were thrilled with the above-and-beyond efforts of our staff. A few cried while talking to our employees.

Meanwhile, we had thousands of people waiting. We had let the program veer off course while trying to serve individuals instead of our broader audience. I looked at the numbers and had a hard conversation with myself, concluding that although I loved the program, the business was suffering. These few happy people weren’t covering our costs.

To deliver on our mission, I had to serve thousands and that required putting Implementation Days on the chopping block. I now make a point to cancel programs at the end of each year if they don’t make business sense or don’t result in worthwhile ROI. Determining which ones make the cut, as well as how to rebound from such a loss, isn’t easy, but a few steps can soften the blow.

1. Clarify why an idea must be abandoned.

The financial devastation of throwing good money after bad can’t be overstated. If an idea was once successful but is now struggling, its owner must attach a dollar amount to its current failure. To come up with the full cost, determine how much each stage of the process costs, how much it costs to pay your employees to do that work and how costly it would be to replicate the process in the future.

Then, ask yourself, “If I have $1,000 to spend, what will truly get me closer to my goal?” You may determine that it’s worthwhile to have your designers and writers implement marketing strategies for your customers because the results will outweigh the labor costs. Or you may, like me, come up with an alternative that still supports the goal. In our case, we decided to offer templates with guidance about copy and design strategy, allowing us to provide similar value to our customers, but at scale.

2. Don’t abandon the lessons hidden in the experience.

Failure is hard, which is why most people don’t want to go through it. Even watching other people fail is hard. My 1-year-old nephew is on the verge of walking, but he keeps losing his balance and falling. But he’d never learn to walk if people kept grabbing him before gravity took hold. There’s a payoff to his pain.

Likewise, if you’re going to fail, you might as well make it worth your while. Write down the skills you obtained as a result of your failure. Get competitive with yourself: Compare the current version of yourself to last year’s model. What are you now capable of doing differently to lead your company? What do you know now that makes you more valuable?

I did this at the end of 2015, a challenging year for my business. I found lots of problems, all of which were our own design. I could see exactly why we’d managed to find ourselves in the position we were in. However, we escaped layoffs and grew the company by 3 percent. Looking back, I realized that I hadn’t prioritized data and analytics in my decision-making; I had failed to incorporate the right KPIs and how they were reported.

Today, everyone in the company receives a Daily Stats email first thing in the morning with what we call “cash the plane” KPIs. We then set up better weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting for each of our teams during our weekly leadership meeting.

3. Develop a grateful mindset toward failure.

The idea of thinking of failure with gratitude may feel like salt in the wound. But without the failures of 2015 that forced us to look at what we were doing, our company wouldn’t have uncovered and resolved so many issues that would have prevented us from becoming the scalable business we are now.

I didn’t just get comfortable with the list I’d made of the lessons I’d learned. I sat down with a colleague and put our lists together. There was overlap, but we’d each zoned in on different failures and overlooked others. That meant there was even more learning to be done. We adjusted our perspective and began embracing a new attitude: “How can we be open to that?” There’s no longer a penalty attached to failure.

We also put our work in perspective. In our line of work, unlike that of doctors or firefighters, people’s lives aren’t in danger when we fail. Remembering that makes it easier to absorb the beauty of failure — it’s part of the cost of learning, and it’s why you’ll be paid more down the line. Failing as an entrepreneur is a lot like surviving the grueling rigors of a difficult college program: You pay thousands of dollars, get no breaks and endure lots of pressure. But the “Is it worth it?” question is answered at the end, when you wear that experience like a badge of honor.

Failure resembles grief: The only way out is through. And that makes sense because failure means grieving an idea that didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped. But evaluating the data, embracing the lessons and adjusting your attitude ensures that your failure will pay off with a much stronger company that can take a few blows and remain standing.

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