How to overcome failure in business

Posted in Business and entrepreneurship.

In life and in business, it is expected to run into failure at some point. What is important is being able to overcome those failures. There are a myriad of proverbs that encourage people to get back up after they fall down. Perseverance is admirable and the most successful people are generally those who persevere in the face of overwhelming shortcomings. However, the people that succeed are those that learn from their failures.

These steps will help you to overcome any sort of failures you may come across.

1. Take responsibility

The first step to jumping over a hurdle is to recognise that the hurdle is there. Ignoring shortcomings will lead to them never being addressed. Once you know where you failed to succeed, you need to take responsibility for it. You are the one that has to jump over the hurdle. People do not like failing. Ignoring failures or shirking responsibility for it is a way that we protect ourselves from it. Fight that sort of reaction.

This is not to say that all the responsibility lies on you, though. Not all things are as simple as “X did/did not do Y”. Oftentimes, failure is the product of several people. You need to determine what part of it is your fault. Accept blame reasonably before pointing fingers.

2. Tackle it with a healthy mental attitude

Failure is unpleasant. An unhealthy mindset will extrapolate on that unpleasantness. Too many people that face failure think that they will never be able to succeed. This kind of attitude holds them back. Seeing failure as this all-powerful black stain on us leads us to fearing it and thus hesitate to take risks. It is very hard to jump over hurdles when our fear drags us down.

It is okay to feel through your emotions. Accept those feelings instead of repressing them. It is okay to feel anger or sadness. What is important is what you do with those feelings. Use those feelings to drive you instead of wallowing in pity or frustration. Use those feelings to fuel your determination.

Remember, failure should always remain separate from your identity. You failing does not mean that you are a failure. It is hard to tackle problems that failure brings while you are distracted by your own shattered self-image. It was your actions that led to failure, not you. You can still learn and improve.

3. Manage your losses

Failing in business often means that you suffer negative repercussions beyond just your hurt feelings. Once you have calmed your emotions, it is time to think rationally. What did you lose? Profits? Image? Business partners? Can you stop more losses from happening? Can you retrieve the things that you lost? These are things best thought about with a level head.

A business contingency plan will make sure that in the event of any losses, your business will be able to continue strongly. A contingency plan will turn a drastic failure into a measly hiccup if done well. People may say not to plan for failure, but some take that sentiment too literally. Plan for failure and you can be confident in your actions regardless of how it pans out.

The most important thing to remember when managing your losses is that your business should have a consistent cash flow. The business is not out of the game as long as there is a steady source of income. You even have to work more to ensure money is coming in.

4. Learn from failure

When we fail, we get back up and learn from it. Doing the same thing again is likely to lead to failure once again. The point is to overcome it. Adapt and improve. After the heat of the failure has subsided, take the time to reevaluate what led to the unfavourable outcome. What factors were integral? What could you have done differently? Would it have changed the outcome? Consider how you may approach a similar situation in the future.

Do a SWOT analysis of your business to see how you can improve:

  • What are the Strengths of your business? Think about what you are good at. Future problems can be tackled more effectively if you lean into your strengths more.
  • Where do you fall short? Think about the Weaknesses of your business that make it hard to succeed in what you want to do. If you can overcome your weaknesses, you can overcome the failures it caused.
  • What Opportunities can your business take advantage of? After incurring losses from a failure, it is useful to keep an eye out on how you can quickly jump back.
  • Are there other Threats to your business? Planning for possible failures is much easier when you are aware of possible ways that things could go wrong. Also, make sure that even if things went wrong, you are prepared to prevent it from derailing further.