Failure is an ugly word. No one likes to admit their failures and the same holds true for businesses. However, a bad experience can be used to learn what not to do in a future business endeavor. Failed businesses are a reality, but you can redeem yourself and restart a failed business or pursue a new business venture. The experience may be a humbling one, but very necessary in order to tip the scales in your favor the next time around. With a few simple steps, you can get your entrepreneurial spirit back and make your next business a success.
Walk down memory lane.
The first task is to go back to the beginning and try to determine where mistakes were made. Ask yourself key questions and be honest. If you made appointments but never kept them or was always late, admit it. Did your business partner forget to pay some bills, or, did you? Was your product flawed in some way? Were your customers unhappy with a service you were providing? Did you miss deadlines or promise something and not make good on it? These are important things to discuss with your business partner or to discover about yourself. Now, that’s half the battle. How are you going to change it?
Accept what you cannot change.
There are some things in life you just can’t change. It’s said that the best advertising is from word of mouth. A business can also fail from word of mouth. People talk to each other and you can be sure they will talk about your company; good or bad. If your business offered a service to people and you didn’t make good on it, someone will hear about it. Bad news travels faster than good news. Your company’s image is everything, so try to think of ways to rebuild your image. Offer discounts or free products, provide a satisfaction guarantee and follow through. Unfortunately, some impressions may not change and you should prepare yourself for that. The important thing is to put procedures in place that prevent mishaps from happening again.
Recognize your shortcomings and correct them. If you’re a great salesperson but horrible at math, then why would you not outsource your accounting? If you are a great baker, but not good at marketing, then you should probably have someone else handle that aspect of the business.
Revisit your business plan.
The cause of most failed businesses is due to bad planning. If you never had a business plan, then you need to create one. If you had one then you need to revisit it and see what changes need to be made. Did you have enough capital to pay start-up expenses? Did you map out methods for shipments or deliveries that failed? Did you go into the business with not enough education or knowledge about your niche product or service? Did your employees represent your company in a manner that is consistent with your business goals or vision?
A successful business is achieved through planning. Planning should take place before and during the course of the business. Extra steps should be taken to ensure the business is staying on track. This is achieved by having internal business meetings, cultivating good relationships with your vendors or suppliers, getting customer feedback, and handling complaints properly and quickly.
Pat yourself on the back.
Running a business is not easy. Whether you’re offering a product or service, there is a ton of behind-the-scenes work involved. However, even failed businesses have areas where they excelled. Maybe your product was great, but your customer service was terrible. Or, alternatively, you may have had a product or service that was not in demand but had exceptional customer satisfaction. Whatever the case may be, take note of the things you did right and make them part of your new business plan. Find ways you can add to your achievements and magnify them. In other words, don’t just dwell on what went wrong, but also on what went right.
The public has a good memory and will remember things about their experience with your business such as the extra time you took to make sure something worked or how you followed up with weekly calls. A consumer will not soon forget that their product or services rendered by your company was impeccable, despite arriving later than promised. Recognize your achievements and don’t lose sight of them. They will become invaluable to you on your next business endeavor.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Try and try again. A successful business entrepreneur is one who has failed and redeemed themselves. A failed business does not mean it is the end of the road. It is an opportunity to step back and take a look at what worked and what didn’t. Very few businesses are overnight successes. It takes trial and error, hard work and determination. Just because you fell off the horse doesn’t mean you can’t get back on.
After taking an objective look at your weaknesses or mistakes, rationalize them and brainstorm on methods you can use to improve or prevent them from happening the next time around. Review your business plan, or have someone else look at it; get a second or third opinion. Implement changes in your business plan that will best serve your company and your customers. Research other companies like yours to see if you can adapt some of their practices to suit your business needs. Determine if you need to change your business venue to something else in another niche market.
Be proud of yourself for taking risks and learning from your mistakes. Relish the fact that you don’t have to stay down or give up; you can turn things around and now are better prepared to be successful. Like any good thing, sometimes you gave to fail to succeed.
So get your spurs out and get ready to climb back up on that horse!