Start-up is hard. Building products and teams from the ground up is challenging and mistakes and failures are virtually inevitable. For start-up success, you have to be good at handling the storm of setbacks.

There’s one mentality that I adopted early at Shine called ‘Win or Learn’. It runs through our DNA and is part of every conversation, every milestone and every achievement. I’m adamant that it’s one of the main reasons why we have been able to take Shine from a humble idea, to a nationally-leading beverage brand that is now sold through more than 6,000 stores across Australia within just five years.

Simply put, the Win or Learn mentality reminds us that all situations, decisions, projects and goals end with one of two outcomes: a Win, or a Learning.

If the goal was achieved, it’s a Win. Keep doing what you thought was right and take confidence in your ability to achieve again and at even higher levels.

If the goal wasn’t achieved, it’s a Learning. This is not a negative; quite the opposite. Clearly at the start of the goal, you thought it was possible and you had an idea of how you might achieve it. Now at the end of the goal, and armed with more data and insights, you are gifted with the learning that either the goal wasn’t in-fact possible (in the relevant context), OR you now know of at least one way that doesn’t work to ultimately achieve that goal. You’re better and stronger this knowledge.

If you, as a business leader, maintain and exude positive energy, it’s highly-likely that you and all aspects of your business and team will benefit from the many learnings that come with trying to achieve any goal. Be grateful for the lessons you’ve learnt the hard way.

A win is even sweeter when it comes with learnings; but you must remain open to realise the learnings and gain maximum benefit. For example, one of the big Win or Learn examples we experienced at Shine came in the form of our 400ml sparkling range project.

The Goal

Create Australia’s first carbonated nootropic drink and become the Number One selling better-for-you brand across national retailers.

The Wins

Many of our assumptions were proven correct, giving us confidence that people love carbonated (sparkling) drinks, the functional nootropic ingredients within Shine, how it makes them feel, and Shine’s fruity flavours.

The Learnings

We wanted our brand to stand out on shelves so we invested in custom glass packaging, big bold colours and we wanted to maintain premium pricing (about $1 above the category normal price) with limited promotional spend.  However, a number of these assumptions proved to be incorrect or sub-optimal.

We learnt that mainstream consumers are sensitive to pricing, and expect to pay the category normal.

We learnt that we had to reduce the drink size from 400ml to 330ml as the 400ml option is too large to entice first-time trial purchases.

We learnt that we have to keep consistent yellow branding on all packaging to build our brand identity and recognition, so we reneged on the idea of using big bold colours – apart from our signature yellow.

We learnt that our retail partners expect promotional support to drive their margins and foot traffic into their stores.

There were many more learnings, but the above encapsulates the point of a Win or Learn mindset.

In the end and after many iterations of Win or Learn, we did achieve the original goal and I’m humbled and proud that Shine Drink is today’s Number One selling better-for-you drink brand sold in scores of national retailers.

Only with humility, patience, discipline and maintained positive energy can you embrace the Win or Learn mindset.

Be humble with a student mentality, be open and hungry for learning, and realise that having an ego may blind you to opportunities for growth.

Be patient because you often won’t get everything right the first time and keep at it.

Be disciplined because it’s hard, it’s scary and some days you won’t feel like searching for another learning. That’s reality. Business – especially startup – isn’t always easy. Keep a clear and positive mindset and always aim to keep shining to ultimately achieve success. #WinOrLearn.