In the journey of growth we will experience both successes and failures, bumps and bruises, triumphs and disappointments. Sometimes the magnitude of the disappointment can be so crippling that we become discouraged and make the decision to stop trying. The danger in giving up on our dreams is that we may in turn live in regret and wonder about the possibility of what would have happened if we kept going. Sometimes the hardest decision to make is not what to do to solve the problem, rather to decide to just keep moving forward. In business and life things can change so rapidly that it nearly takes our very breath away. Sometimes the agony of not knowing how we will recover or move beyond a mistake or have what’s needed to keep the business afloat can leave us feeling suffocated. So then, what do we do if faced with disappointment in business when the numbers appear to look not only bleak but beyond repair?
Nikita Lawrence, President of Wealth Success Chamber Enterprises and Executive Mentor for Business Leaders, shares a few strategies on what to do when your business has failed and appears beyond repair.
The first thing to keep in mind for the entrepreneur, business owner, or business leader is that just because it appears beyond repair doesn’t make the individual a personal failure. This part is so critical because it’s very easy to internalize the state of the business and become defined by its success and failure. The success of course is much more fun to take responsibility and accolade from then the failure. Some people may say business isn’t personal, yet I’ve found when you are putting your time, energy, resources, belief, and hope into something that doesn’t work out as planned, it is very much a personal matter. Take ownership in both success and failure, while not allowing either to determine your capacity for future growth and accomplishment. Leaders must be able to separate the results of the business and the value they hold personally as a person, professional, and business leader. This value will be what is used to direct energy into the next two steps.
Next, these leaders will have to insightfully analyze their business and look objectively at the facts, asking, how did we really get here. A few questions to consider are listed below.
What were our financial projections?
What were our sales projections?
What was our execution strategy?
What was our marketing strategy?
What expectations did we set of ourselves as a company?
How do we recover from mistakes?
What is our brand presence in the industry?
What was the experience of our customers? What did they want and need more of? What didn’t they like?
What was our pricing strategy?
What operating expenses could be reduced or eliminated?
What processes worked?
What processes didn’t work?
What was our communication strategy for accessing progress and making adjustments for continued growth?
What team members performed the best and why? Who else would we need to become a leader in our industry?
How did I respond to frustration and stress with my team members and customers?
What are three things I could have done differently as the leader in the business?
Finally, the next step is to look at each of the short comings and mistakes indicated above and extract the lessons learned. The beauty in any mistake made is that the opportunity exists for the mishap to be a lesson learned, so that it isn’t repeated as a cyclical failure. List all the lessons learned and then make a decision on how to proceed into the future, keeping in mind the original purpose behind the company and the new experience customers will have as a result of the changes. A key factor here is to assess whether incremental or monumental changes need to be implemented to create greater success in the future. Leaders should share their analysis with seasoned professionals, mentors, or coaches that can advise here.
The bottom line is that sometimes there’s just a small tweak that makes the difference in success or failure for a struggling business. Other times a complete overhaul in the process is needed to accomplish the purpose and fulfill the vision for the business. I’ve learned it’s ok to pivot, make adjustments, and continue to be committed to the process of serving at the highest level to make a difference in the lives of those we were sent here to Earth to make better. The best advice I have for struggling business owners is to take a step back, keep things in perspective, and remember it’s never over until you reach your last breath. Regroup, re-focus, and keep going.