Newspaper articles. Magazine profiles. Online blog posts. Entrepreneurial success stories are everywhere.
You read about entrepreneurs whose businesses started as personal projects and blew up. You read about entrepreneurs who had zero experience, yet they somehow managed to succeed in their businesses. You read about both the money they’re making and the happiness they’re experiencing.
Then, you think about you.
You’re dealing with entrepreneurial failure. The results of your efforts don’t meet your expectations. You should just give up altogether, right?
What is Failure and Why Is It Important for Success?
Though failure—defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a “lack of success”—is painful, it’s inevitable on your way to success.
And, guess what? It shows you tried. You took a risk, or two, or three and now know what doesn’t work for your business.
So, don’t throw in the towel because of fear and regret. Instead, bounce back. Recover. Rebuild. Start over.
How to Deal with Failure When You're an Entrepreneur
To help you overcome failure and bounce back from your business shortcomings, here are 7 habits to consider. They’ll help you get up, adapt, and move forward with your entrepreneurial pursuits.
1. Redefine the meaning of failure
You should avoid and minimize entrepreneurial failure, when possible on your part. But, as you already know, it happens. And when it happens? Your perception affects your ability to overcome it.
Do you see it as something negative and shameful—to the point of avoiding the necessary progression?
If so, then to bounce back, you must redefine your meaning of failure. View it as an opportunity analyze and adapt to what went wrong. An opportunity to learn from the results. A chance to move forward and try again with more knowledge than before.
2. Acknowledge and accept your failure
Let’s start with the following assumption since you’re reading this: you’ve acknowledged your failure.
You know things didn’t work out as planned. You know you didn’t reach your revenue goal. You know you should no longer invest in the approach you’ve been using.
What’s next? Accept your failure. This is no sign of weakness in entrepreneurship. In fact, it’s a courageous act of taking responsibility and recognizing the need for improvement.
3. Step away and mourn
Don’t underestimate the benefits of mourning your failure.
Failure brings a wide-range of emotions: anger, disappointment, discouragement, frustration, guilt, regret, self-doubt, shame. Avoid suppressing these feelings. Why? Because research shows, it can affect your mental and physical health.
If you need to step away and re-energize yourself, then do it. Business mogul, Richard Branson, for instance, takes 24 hours. “I will work day and night to avoid failure, says Branson, but if I can’t, I’ll pick myself up the next day.”
Need more than 24 hours? Take the hours you need. What matters most is: you give yourself the time you need to rest and reflect before taking your next course of action.
4. Maintain a positive attitude
Don’t see the point of maintaining a positive outlook during this time?
You shouldn’t feel bad. But, beware: your attitude influences whether you give up—or deal with failure and bounce back. And, a positive outlook proves beneficial in doing the latter.
It takes effort to keep your attitude in a positive place when challenged by failure, but it’s worth it. Consider:
- Monitoring and improving your self-talk
- Staying away from negative sources and influences
- Seeking out the positives and being grateful
5. Evaluate, learn, improve, and grow
Henry Ford once said, “Failure is the simply opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
To avoid a similar failure in the future, you must evaluate and learn from the outcome. John C. Maxwell, Leadership Expert, Speaker, and Author, agrees with learning from failures through evaluation. “Evaluated experience,” he says via Success Magazine, “is the best teacher.”
So, dedicate time to:
- Reviewing the expected outcome
- Gauging what went wrong—and what went well
- Assessing what you could’ve done differently
- Reevaluating and adjusting your business-related priorities and expectations
- Seeking help from others—if you need it
From there, you’ll be ready to get back up, make the necessary improvement, and try again.
6. Move on and past it
You’re in pain because you’ve fallen short of your business’s expectations. You’re going through a major setback and can’t stop obsessing over your failure. While going through these motions, you might be thinking it’s easier to avoid another failure by not moving on.
But, please, don’t give into this thought. You can still take the necessary steps needed to reach your goal, so move past your failure.
What are a few steps you can take today?
- Researching a new idea?
- Evaluating tasks to see what you should delegate or outsource?
- Implementing a new procedure for meeting deadlines?
- Optimizing your website for more growth?
- Asking for a referral from a satisfied client?
- Recreating your marketing strategy?
These steps might seem small. But, they can assist you in going forward.
7. Seek out inspiration and support
Next time you read an entrepreneurial success story, remember: most of them have experienced failures. The thing is, they embraced them. They didn’t let failures stop them progressing and accomplishing their goals.
So, instead of beating yourself up while reading, you can use their stories for inspiration, knowledge, and support. Learn from both their successes and failures. Ask questions, if you can reach out and genuinely connect. Then, apply what's applicable to you, your goals, and your entrepreneurial journey.
Pro Tip: Redefine what failure and success mean to you—before seeking out inspiration and support—so you can stay true to yourself, your vision, and your path.
Remember, Small Setbacks Set the Stage for Major Comebacks
Though you've been suffering from the devastating blow of entrepreneurial failure, it’s not too late to bounce back and move forward.
Remember, failure is temporary and can lead to success. But, it requires you to evaluate, learn, and make the necessary improvements actively.
So, build your resilience muscle. Reassess, adapt, and adjust. Have the fun you had when starting out. And, don’t stop until you reach your goal.
That is how to deal with failure when you're in pursuit of success.