When you started your business, you might have pictured a gradual-but-rewarding climb to success. Sure, you knew there might be a few bumps in the road, but you never imagined the rollercoaster ride that building and growing a business actually is.
Over the course of adding new clients and bringing in revenue, you could suffer a serious setback. It may be the loss of your biggest client or a major flaw in the manufacturing process that forces you to go back to square one. If that happens, it’s important to remember that some of the most successful companies of all time suffered big setbacks at some point. Here are 12 ways to push past the disappointment and find success.
1. Stay calm.
When something goes wrong, your first instinct might be to panic. Yet in business, keeping a cool head will help you prevail. Staying calm is even more important if you have a team that looks to you for direction and leadership. Take a deep breath and prepare yourself to tackle the challenge ahead. You may not solve the problem, but your odds of success will increase if you do it calmly.
Related: 10 Ways Smart People Stay Calm
2. Learn from it.
When a setback happens, you can usually learn something from the experience. There’s an entire school of thought out there that says there’s no such thing as failure, because every mistake has the potential to teach you something that will help you improve down the road. Instead of panicking, pay close attention to the reason(s) for the setback. What could have prevented it?
3. Move forward.
Too many professionals waste too much time tracking down the reason for the setback. While it’s important to identify the cause to prevent it in the future, the blame game is a waste of time and effort. You need to save your energy for moving forward from here.
4. Seek advice.
You likely have someone you respect who can help you through the rough spots you’ll experience throughout your career. Don’t hesitate to contact that person and ask for advice. You may think you’re bothering your mentor but, chances are, he or she will be flattered you asked.
5. Brainstorm your options.
Once a disaster happens, you may feel torn on how to proceed. If you work with a team, gather everyone to help brainstorm ideas on how you can move forward from the setback. If not, brainstorm alone or ask a trusted advisor or colleague to help you.
6. Look for the opportunity.
In every serious setback is the opportunity to learn and grow from any mistakes you made. A manufacturing flaw may bring a chance to fix issues that always bothered you with your product, for instance. Look for those opportunities and embrace them.
Related: The 5 Benefits of Being Optimistic
The worst thing you can do after something bad has happened is to try to cover it up. Openly communicate with your customers and business partners to ensure that when the news does get out, they don’t feel blindsided.
8. Put it in perspective.
It may seem as though this setback is the end of the world, but it isn’t. Learn to put setbacks in perspective and resist the urge to let disappointment cloud your judgment or your attitude. This includes making time for fun with family and friends, as well as not feeling sorry for yourself. Also, keep an objective viewpoint on just how big a setback actually is. This way, you’ll be better equipped surmount any obstacle.
9. Revisit your mission statement.
Sometimes moving forward requires taking yourself back to the beginning. Review your business plan and pay close attention to your mission statement. Why did you found this company? What goals do you hope to accomplish moving forward?
10. Know that you're still on the path to success.
Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel G. Amen describes the path to success as a series of experiences, complete with peaks and valleys. Yet many tend to think of it as a straight line upward. Understand that there will be ups and downs on your way to achieving your goals and this latest setback may just simply be clearing the way for you to begin climbing again.
11. Study your financials.
The biggest part of any setback is the financial devastation it can potentially wreak. If possible, meet with a financial expert to take a serious look at your situation and decide what you can do to minimize any damage. Wrapping your head around the financial scope of a problem is a vital part of overcoming it.
12. Look to the future.
Instead of focusing on the past or the present, turn your attention toward the future. What will things look like in a month or even a year? What steps do you need to take to get there?
With the right mindset, startups and their founders can survive many setbacks and create lasting success. Of course, the best approach is prevention. If you can anticipate setbacks before they happen, you’ll save yourself and your business significant energy and time. However, even if you can’t, never forget that setbacks give you an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and move forward, stronger and more determined than ever.