“I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison

If you feel entrepreneurship calling, jump right in! No one has ever learnt to swim while standing on the shore.

A growing body of research shows that experience is not a precursor to success in a startup. Instead, what you need is the following attributes to help you succeed:

  1. Problem-solving mindset
  2. Audacious imagination
  3. Resistance to naysayers
  4. Resilience to failure
  5. Grit to get to the finish line

If this is you, join the club.

Starting a new business without experience is drinking from the fire hose. The experience helps you discover your true self-potential. Experienced entrepreneurs don’t have higher success than newbies. People who don’t know how hard the climb is aren’t handicapped to reach the summit. Young entrepreneurs continue to prove this every now and then.

“Failure doesn’t kill you… it increases your desire to make something happen.”

Failure is a reality in business; let’s explore 10 ways of overcoming setbacks to get back on the path to success.

1. Failure is a Matter of Perspective

Every setback is an opportunity to reassess your options and reset your compass. What you can’t do is give up, cave in, and stop believing in yourself when you suffer a loss in business. Every hero story at its core is how they handled difficult situations and triumphed. So, stop grieving, start re-evaluating your business strategy, and adjust your course.

Failure is part of the learning to go on to build successful business empires. Embrace your learning curve, and you’ll find the answers. To be completely honest, successful entrepreneurs get addicted to overcoming failures. This journey keeps them testing their limits, breaking the barriers.

2. Refusing to Change is the Same as Killing Your Dreams

During the 1920s, Henry Ford’s Model T dominated the automobile industry. Subtle but sure trends emerged that signalled an impending change in the market.

Automobiles were becoming a status symbol for many Americans. Yet, Henry Ford refused to believe the growing change. His Model T continued to have the same pricing strategy and bland colour. Soon, rival General Motors gave customers options and took over market share.

This story repeats itself in every industry, every decade. Successful companies ignore the shifts in the market. Startups faster, nimbler, in tune with changing customer perceptions end up taking over. The recipe for capturing and retaining market share changes with time. Keep your ear to the ground to detect these changes, embrace them, and set a new course.

3. Keeping it Simple — Apple’s Secret to Success

Customers don’t need overhyped marketing principles that only serve to confuse them. The trick is to keep things simple. Apple utilized simple marketing tactics that were generally straightforward. Their campaigns were devoid of feature lists, special effects, and price tags.

Instead, Apple let the product speak for itself without any flashy noise and jargon. There’s no need for technical speak that takes away from what you’re actually offering your audience.

Apple also relies on positive customer feedback, along with influencer marketing. You can also use this winning strategy by simplifying your marketing strategy.

4. Cultivate a Strong, Supportive, and Engaged Network

You will experience loneliness, stress, rejection, deceit, loss, and more. Plan for every one of these emotions and use the right tools to cope with them. In my case, daily meditation plays a key role in alternate perspectives to challenges. This allows for meaningful self-discovery and growth.

My coping mechanism involves hiking, access to nature, and reading. This heals me and creates a barrier between me and my stress. We need a coping mechanism in place — yours may be different from mine.

You will also need a strong supportive network.

To create a strong support network, start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Who are your go-to people?
  2. Where can you be vulnerable without judgment?
  3. Whom do you deeply trust?
  4. Who will watch your back and give you candid, honest feedback?
  5. Who are the advisors, your sounding board? Do they have the context and experience to provide honest and sensible advice?

These relationships you nurture will provide emotional succour in your times of stress. For me, this network is a very small inner circle.

Remember, coping tools, emotional support, and sound advice.

5. Lead From the Front, Take the Arrows for Your People

Johnson & Johnson made a crucial decision — one that would set them back nearly $100 million in cash. About 3 decades back, Tylenol killed seven people after they ingested cyanide-laced capsules in Chicago.

Johnson & Johnson responded by recalling and removing the products from every store around the world. That’s $100 million worth of capsules.

They didn’t search for scapegoats but worked on a solution. Johnson & Johnson revolutionized packaging capsules with tamper-proof technology and regained customer trust.

The lessons learned?

  1. Your company can overcome the crisis if you offer genuine trust and credibility
  2. Assume responsibility for the crisis
  3. Act quickly and decisively

6. Admit Your Mistake to Customers and Move On

Uber, an upstart business, disrupted the rigid world of transportation. Uber’s plans weren’t to introduce a brand new product, but to solve the problem of transportation in a quick, easy way.

Uber wasn’t without its controversies. The company culture needed a drastic makeover with growing controversies and scandals. But part of what made Uber so successful is its genuine effort to improve its PR. They changed their toxic company culture and continued to win customer support.

Turns out, that even the most successful entrepreneurs are prone to mistakes. You will mess up. That’s life. Apologize, learn from your mistakes and move on.

7. Roadblocks May Impede Progress, But Don’t Let Them Stop You

There will be several roadblocks– the odds may seem insurmountable. But if you have clarity of your convictions, you will overcome every roadblock.

Let’s take the example of Uber again — many regulatory bodies tried to stop them.

By offering convenience and affordable pricing to customers, they had public support. This was enough to override and re-write laws at a city and state level — an unimaginable feat.

The lesson learned?

Don’t let anyone stop you from realizing your goals — no matter how outlandish.

8. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

It pays to step out of your comfort zone and take sensible business risks, which isn’t the same as gambling.

For example, let’s say you want to try a new marketing strategy that costs 30% more than your usual campaign. Start by testing the campaign first by doing a sample run with a smaller investment. If it turns out to be successful, pour more money into the new strategy.

9. Scaling the Business Model

Most businesses are not prepared for scaling too fast. The early promise in MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and GTM is not proof enough for rapid scaling. Most companies hit the scale button and want to see hyper-growth. Before you do this, ask yourself the following:

– Do you have the right team at every level to deal with the type of growth you want? Getting orders is no cause for celebration if you fumble on shipping in time.

– Can your website handle the surge in traffic or will it crash? This is another nightmare that can put you at risk of losing customers

– Do you have enough funds and cash runway to scale your business? Gambling with unrealistic expectations on fundraising can cost you.

Every business is not prepared for rapid scalability. Make sure you have the people, processes, product, and productivity in place.

10. Keep Customers at the Heart of Your Business

Did you know that the majority of a company’s revenues come from 20% of its customers? Your ‘influencer customers’ form the success stories of your business. Involve them in your marketing campaign planning, business strategies, and product development. Listen to their feedback (both good and bad) — in other words, make them an important part of your strategy.

Uber, for instance, puts customer experience at the forefront of its strategy. They used behavioural sciences at scale to create an industry-leading customer experience.

The Bottom Line

Entrepreneurship is to prepare for failure, expect it, and embrace it. Behind every success is the story of crisis overcome. It requires a willingness to change and innovate.

I would love to know your views on overcoming setbacks in business. What are the business hacks that worked for you? Comment Below.