How to Deal with Failure as a Small Business Owner

Are you sitting comfortably? Welcome to my Workplace series of podcasts that will help you to navigate those inevitable difficult events at work that are part of being a small business owner.

Today I want to talk about how to deal with failure as a small business owner.

Failure is a fact of life. We have all read the stories of people who failed spectacularly and then became successful against the odds. So why do we think of a failure as a dirty word and something to be feared and dreaded? Why do we hold onto failures and not have the self-compassion to let them go?

A huge part of overcoming failure is how you think about it, and how you deal with it. It begins with a positive attitude and a willingness to adapt and learn from it.

So how can you make sure failure doesn’t affect your confidence and stay on track?

Firstly, remember that you are not the failure.

Making failure personal can really affect your confidence and it can negatively affect your business. Just because something didn’t work out, it’s no reflection on you as a person. You are not a failure. Failures do not define you or your business.

Next, it’s so important that you learn from the failure and move on.

This might seem difficult, but try to put your feelings of anger or frustration aside for a moment. Then analyse the failure. Were there circumstances or events that were out of your control? What could you have done better? Think about what you learned, then use this information to move on and move forward.

Moving forward is only possible if you stop ruminating about the failure. Dwelling on what happened isn’t going to change anything, it’s just going to make you feel even worse than you do. It can effectively paralyse you and prevent you from moving on. The key is to look to the future and think about what positive steps you’re going to take next.

Another important point to remember is that what other people think is not important. If you’re so afraid of failure and how it will look to others, that comes from a place of fear. The fear of being judged negatively by others. It’s your business and you are the one running it, nobody else. And even if people think one thing about you or say another, it doesn’t make it fact. Don’t give your power away.

You don’t have to listen to negative opinions of you or your business, but you can seek help and advice from people who have been in similar situations. Why not hire a business advisor or mentor who can encourage, guide, and reassure you, especially during tough times? They’ll have experienced failures and setbacks just like you, and they’ll share their experiences with you to show you that a) you’re not alone, and b) setbacks can be a great teacher and they can encourage you and your business to grow.

Finally, reframe failure. You might have grown up believing that failure is unthinkable, and that it’s somehow a character flaw. But failure does not mean that you are stupid, weak, or incapable. Try changing the way you view failure. See failure as a learning experience. After all you know more now than you did before it. See it as being one step closer to being successful. You know the famous quote from Thomas Edison, the pioneer of the lightbulb. After numerous unsuccessful attempts at designing one that would work, he did not give up. Instead, he said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Look at the most successful people in the world today. I guarantee that virtually all of them have experienced failure on the road to success. But the difference with successful people is that they didn’t allow failure to derail them, they used it a motivator, and as something that could be learned from. And they never gave up.

Failure in business doesn’t have to be the end. Just as in life, there will always be obstacles you have to face, but you will nearly always find ways to overcome those obstacles. Be inspired by the stories of others but remember you’re also creating your own. And one day it might just inspire someone else.

I hope that you got some good tips from today’s podcast, and I’ll see you next time for the next one in the series. This is The People Mentor, signing off.

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