4 Strategies That Will Get You Through Your Entrepreneurial Setbacks

Learn from my setbacks, and bounce back stronger than ever before.

learn more about Peter J. Burns III

By Peter J. Burns III

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you have been an entrepreneur long enough, you have been knocked down. It's inevitable, whether your obstacle is a business setback or a health problem.

I have had many setbacks in my life, too numerous to itemize. When that happens, there are steps you can take to get back up. But more on those later.

The setbacks that became lessons

In early 2020, I had an idea to bring luxury group homes to the marketplace. Specifically, I focused on Phoenix, Arizona, where the demographics are extraordinarily favorable. I also had a builder there that I had known for more than 20 years. The plan was to purchase mansions, or white elephants, at a discounted rate and convert them to luxury group homes. After doing our due diligence, we purchased three mansions and began retrofitting them and taking reservations for residents. Then the unthinkable happened – a pandemic. By the time we threw in the towel in 2021, we had lost more than $2 million.

About the same time in 2020, I invested in a cannabis church in Los Angeles. While a little riskier than the luxury group homes, the idea that cannabis can be used as a sacrament in California and was legally protected had been established. Covid killed that one, too, since "worshipers" could no longer enter the church.

In all cases, like every other entrepreneur, I was knocked to the mat. How did I respond? These steps brought me upright, and stronger than ever.

Related: Your Setbacks During COVID-19 Will Fuel Your Success Tomorrow


If you have built a successful business before, you can definitely do it again. Instinctively, you will follow the right steps and find success. Even if you have always struggled, understand that you will have learned from those mistakes. The history of entrepreneurs is littered with people that failed, only to succeed on the next try. It's a numbers game. The more determined you are, the better chance you will have to get it right.


I have curated a network of tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, partners and subject matter experts that I can call upon in response to a setback. For example, comb through the messaging section of your LinkedIn account and reach out to those who have been most inspirational to you through the years. Ask them how they are doing. Inevitably, the conversation will turn back to you. Be upbeat with your network and trust that there will be some direction that emerges from the conversation.

Related: The 4 Most Common Business Setbacks and How to Recover

Take your time

Have you ever watched a boxer get knocked down and get back up? The smart ones, who aren't dazed, will take a knee and scan their surroundings. They know that they could pop right back up. But they may face the same danger again. Instead, the smart ones pause to think about strategy and what tactics they want to employ. Perhaps they missed something the first time. They know the setback was really an opportunity, waiting to be capitalized.

Be willing to bet on yourself

A lot of entrepreneurs who are recovering from a setback or facing bills from a medical problem may decide it is time to hunker down, and maybe go get a job. They lean towards putting the dream on the backburner. Wrong move.

Do your due diligence and come up with a good idea. Vet it with your network. Then, bet on yourself. You'll probably need funding. Get the capital your need, whether it comes from friends and family, banks or alternative resources. The funds you need are there, even if you have to select the last option.

Above all, stand up and advance confidently. You are an entrepreneur. Believe in yourself.

Related: How Steve Jobs Turned Setbacks Into Success

Peter J. Burns III

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor


Peter J. Burns III, a successful serial entrepreneur, has started or helped start over 200 businesses over the last 40 years. Most recently, he started Burns Funding to help entrepreneurs secure funding and Millennial Queenmaker, a company that helps young women become successful entrepreneurs.

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