Building a business isn’t always a guaranteed pathway to success. You can have the best of intentions, a solid product/service offering, a great team and still end up having to shut down or sell your business. How you bounce back from your business’ failure can make or break the rest of your career. If you’re an ‘serial entrepreneur’ facing yet another failed business or a first-time entrepreneur needing to shut down your company, bear the following tips in mind.
Don’t Make it Personal
Just because you needed to close your business, that doesn’t mean you are a failure. If you learn important lessons from launching, growing, and subsequently shutting down your business, then your endeavor wasn’t a complete write-off. Business lessons are how entrepreneurs grow. Seeing the situation as a temporary learning curve is the best attitude to take out of the experience. If some of your endeavors don’t fail, how will you learn to get better and grow? We often mostly just hear about people’s successes. But the path to these milestones tend to have many setbacks. The story of someone’s success may seem only bright and fast-moving in what’s told in the media or we see in our minds. But the reality – and the useful way to approach setbacks – is most often more like this quote by Steve Jobs:
“Embrace every failure. Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.”
If you accepted investor financing for your failed business, the closure of your company can be especially hard. Whether you accepted friends and family funding or accepted backing from outside angel investors, the knowledge you burned through someone’s money can haunt you for years to come. The efforts you make to correct your behaviors can go a long way towards easing your guilt. Understand the decisions you made that led to your company’s closure, make it up to your investors by continuing to send them investment leads, and do your part to pay your investor’s faith in you forward by mentoring other up-and-coming business owners who can learn from your mistakes.
Successful marketing that draws attention and accolades from others in your industry can often make you feel like you’re winning as an entrepreneur. Too many entrepreneurs fall prey to press mentions or high social media follower counts and think they’ve made it as a business owner. All the press in the world or social media shares mean nothing if you can’t pay your business’ bills or keep your staff employed. When you have to shutter your business and send out announces that your company will no longer exist, you realize those accolades meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Learn the lesson that you should have kept your head down and continued to work on acquiring paying customers and use that knowledge in your next business.
If you can learn to live with failure as an entrepreneur, you can become a stronger business owner who survives tough times.