Dealing with Failure as an Entrepreneur

All entrepreneurs will face failure at some point in their careers. Whether it’s a product launch that doesn’t go as planned, a client who feels they didn’t get what they were promised, or a big idea that just didn’t pan out, failure and disappointment are a part of every entrepreneur’s life. Because the fact is, if you’ve never failed in your business, then you’re playing it way too safe.

The difference between successful entrepreneurs and those who don’t make it lies in how they deal with those failures. You may think it matters how often or how frequently you fail, but in reality, it’s how you cope with and learn from those failures that makes the real difference.

Here are some steps to maximize the value of that experience:

Accept it and acknowledge it.

I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs trying desperately to pound square pegs into round holes. They know their efforts have been futile, and yet, they still keep pushing. Or they play off the failed launches or disappointed clients as flukes and don’t acknowledge that their strategy just didn’t work. By accepting and acknowledging that you failed, you can begin move on to the next step.

Reflect.

You learn far more from your failures than you do your successes, so take this as an opportunity to reflect on your initiatives. What worked? What didn’t? Why? How did you feel at the beginning of the launch? How do you feel now? What would you do differently? What would you continue doing? For the reflection period, I like to spend a lot of time journaling and taking walks outside. By stepping away from the screen, you’ll be able to think more objectively.

Seek feedback.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, life as an entrepreneur can be a lonely one. You are the primary decision maker, which can sometimes lead to failures and missteps. Take this time to seek feedback from your team and members of your community. Ask them what they feel could be improved upon or done differently. Ask them to share their current struggles or specific things they need help with. Use their input to analyze what went wrong and what could have been done differently.

Pivot and try again.

Vince Lombardi once said, “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up.” I agree, but with a caveat. If you get up and make the exact same moves you did the last time, then you can expect to get knocked down again. Successful entrepreneurs always get back up and try again, but they also have the ability—and willingness—to learn from their mistakes and try a different approach.

As an entrepreneur, I have experienced my share of failures. I’ve created products that didn’t sell, programs that didn’t fill, and come up short in meeting my goals. Failing is always discouraging, but the steps I’ve outlined above will allow you to move on and learn from your experience.

Individual failures do not mean you have failed as an entrepreneur. On the contrary, failure is an indication that you’re trying new things, putting your work out there, and learning from your mistakes. It’s easy to get discouraged and disappointed, but by taking these steps to overcome and learn from your mistakes, you are sure to see success down the road.

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