Being an entrepreneur carries a lot of self-imposed pressure. You can’t help but feel a need to prove yourself – to the world, and also to yourself. And any setbacks, no matter how small, can feel like an enormous failure. But, although it’s hard to see it when it’s happening, setbacks can often be an unexpected gift. Perhaps not one that you’d have chosen for yourself! But still worth having.
How do I know?
In 2019, Momentum Property Education came close to bankruptcy. I was at the helm, along with my two business partners – one of whom was my husband. Thanks to a series of errors, we lost £400,000 of investor’s cash in a very short space of time. And it was terrifying. Everything we thought we knew turned to dust, and we were left having to decide between declaring bankruptcy, and clawing back our reputation. We chose, what to us seemed like the only option, and started on the road to recovery. We learnt a few lessons along the way.
How to come back from failure
Rebounding from failure isn’t easy. Your confidence has been dented, and it can be a challenge to just keep going from day to day. Recovery comes from learning from your experiences. And these are the lessons that I learnt as we navigated ourselves back towards success.
It’s always okay to ask for support – No entrepreneur is an island. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. We can’t know or do everything. No matter how much we think we should be able to. Asking for help and sharing your thoughts can be liberating, even when everything seems lost. The deepest insights can come from the most unexpected places. So, whether you’re just unloading to friends and family, or seeking the support of a mentor, or another entrepreneur who’s been there, you will always benefit from asking for help.
Focus on what you can do – When things go wrong it can be totally overwhelming. Looking at the bigger picture can often make the situation seem insurmountable. By focusing on the things that you can do – whether picking through the admin, reaching out for advice, or simply answering the phone – you can start to make progress. Doing something is always better than doing nothing for the state of mind.
Persevere – Not every situation is salvageable. And if every pathway is going to lead to increasing debt and stress, then there are times when you should consider cutting your losses. But just because you’ve had one bad experience, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways forward. And it doesn’t mean that you, personally, are a write off.
Try to see a setback as an opportunity, even when you’re at your lowest ebb – For many, the most difficult part of handling setbacks is the psychological drag. When you feel hollowed out and as if you’ve let everyone down, it’s not easy to see a way forward. But by looking at the positives, it becomes easier to see a way through. I’ll admit that it took some time for us to see this, but our initial loss enabled us to make our business bigger, better, and stronger than it ever could have been before things went wrong. Because it shone a light on our naivety and helped us to see where we needed to improve. At the time, the idea of paying back our creditors with interest seemed preposterous. But they had a far greater ROI than they would have had our original plans worked out.
Setbacks are really hard to deal with. Being an entrepreneur is almost always a lonely experience. When things go wrong, you can feel entirely isolated. And that’s never a good thing for your self-esteem. Seeking help, focusing on the positives, and learning from your mistakes can help you to turn even the most hopeless situations around.