Every career has its ups and downs. But failure doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs consider it to be the greatest teacher of all. According to inventor Thomas Edison, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Best-selling author Janet Fitch puts it this way: "The phoenix must burn to emerge." So what does failure teach you?

Failure Helps Redirect Your Focus
Often, experiencing defeat reveals weaknesses in your skill set or business strategy. It also forces you to take time out and re-evaluate your game plan. By pinpointing what you're doing wrong and what you can do to improve, you save yourself a lot of wasted time and energy down the line.

Failure Builds Courage
Failing can also be an excellent way to conquer your fears. "I've met people who don't want to try for fear of failing," says J.K. Rowling, the British novelist best known for writing the "Harry Potter" series. And as writer Paulo Coelho pointed out, "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure." In other words, you can't put yourself in a position to succeed without having the courage to risk failure.

Reframe Failure as a Learning Opportunity
If taken as a lesson learned, it can build desirable entrepreneurial character traits, such as resilience and persistence. So the next time you fail, don't look for somewhere to place the blame or for a fault in the system. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to learn, or, as media giant Oprah Winfrey says, "another steppingstone to greatness."