Making a Business Comeback
Business failure is just like any other setback in life: it is not just about the failure it’s about what you do with it. Do you throw your hands in the air, quit, or try again? A few years ago, I began working with a startup company. I poured maximum time, talent, and trust into the venture. As time went by, instead of getting better, returns on my investment and appreciation for my contribution deteriorated. Eventually, I was forced to stand back and analyze the company through an objective lens and determine the degree of my continued involvement—if any.
I believed in the vision and the mission of that company. I was totally committed. However, blind faith can in certain circumstances be rightly defined as a lack of wisdom. I had to decide whether this was another one to chalk up to experience. Could I accept failure and move on?
Failure can provide greater lessons to aid future success than you think during the struggle. This holds true in private, personal lives as it does in business. There are many inspiring stories of hugely successful businessmen whose catalogue of failed ventures provided the fodder that fueled their continued rise to success. Historically, Henry Ford is one notable example of someone who learned from his failures. It seems the current US President learned valuable insights from failure as well, as he filed a number of bankruptcies on his rise to real estate success, and beyond.
The best advice I received during my period of reflective analysis was to accept that failure is never the end but possibly the beginning of the journey to success in future endeavors. Below, I share 5 helpful principles that I believe will aid in business comeback after failures or setbacks:
Resilience in the face of adversity: I believe that resilience is perhaps one of the most important characteristics for a comeback. Being resilient enables a person to face adversity rather than surrender to defeat. Resilience is founded in a person’s conviction of purpose and their determination and perseverance to self-realization. In other words, it will determine if that person equate the failure of their venture to failure as a person/business owner/entrepreneur.
Revisiting core concept: This leads to the second lesson that can be learnt from a failed enterprise: examination of the idea or concept on which the business was founded. It may be that the core or pivotal idea around which you established the business was not as great as first imagined. It may even be an idea for which a viable market does not exist over the log-term. Equally, it might be that execution of the marketing strategy was miscalculated or poor. Whatever the case, having a good look at the core idea of the venture, as well as the way it was sold to potential clients will provide guidance on whether to move on or to reorganize, reposition and rebrand.
Resources during development: Many businesses fail simply because owners lack the right resources and people to make their business work well. This is true, namely for small businesses, where the owner is largely dependent on his/her/family financial resources and skills. It takes money to set up in business, and it’s always advisable to have at least one year’s worth of funds to keep going until money starts coming in to cover expenses including staffing costs. Recognizing the need for unplanned expenses and the need to have accurate projections to underpin the next business venture is a valuable lesson that cannot be underestimated.
Refinement of processes, procedures and policies: This is especially applicable in production and manufacturing enterprises. It is often deceptive how much more is required to manufacture or produce a product on an industrial scale in comparison to making a prototype. In many cases, it takes failing to force the owners of such a venture to refine and streamline their processes and systems in order to become a viable and efficient business concern.
Review: In other words, critically do an evaluation of the failed venture. Some of the best business ideas and successful products grew out of adversity, challenges, disappointment, and other notable personal experiences. The lessons gained from a failed company or business should better equip a person to try again. Experience is a great asset that makes it possible to prepare for future challenges from an intimate perspective and avoid pitfalls that may initially have sunk their less experienced self. The personal qualities and experience of a leader ranks at the top of a list of the contributing factors to the success or failure of a company.
Finally, failing in business is really just par for the course. “Like riding a bike,” an individual, who dreams of being their own boss; starting a company or organization; impacting their community for better; building a legacy; and achieving their fullest potential, expresses that you should never give up at the first, second, or however many hurdles it takes to succeed. These are life goals worth sacrificing for. If one idea does not work, try another. Plan and strategize for those areas that a full analysis revealed were previously areas of weakness and vulnerability. A personal inventory will also demonstrate any skills gap. Plug them and get moving. Reconnect to your vision. Regroup with your support base, and ensure you have sufficient resources in place. Then, re-engage the world of business and entrepreneurship. You can be better. You can be successful. You can make a business comeback.