Napoleon Hill, the self-help writer, famously said, “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” Personal and business failure is arguably one of the biggest constants in human experience. No matter the CEO, entrepreneur, artist, or politician, there is no doubt that everyone had to fail at least once before succeeding.
What Is Failure?
According to Clotilde Dusoulier, a popular French writer and life coach, failure is just an absence of an expected result. That is, when you say that you have “failed”, all it means is that you worked toward a result or that you expected something you ultimately didn’t receive.
The fear of failure is extremely common in the world of business. Nobody wants to lose clients, run out of money, or face social stigma. In fact, the fear of failure can be very crippling as an entrepreneur.
This fear is the main reason most people never take the plunge into entrepreneurship. However, without business failure, there is no such thing as success. Similarly, failure is the ultimate teacher, and how we deal with it determines whether or not we succeed.
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It goes without saying that learning how to overcome our failures, how to transform them into successes is a superpower. Resting secure in the knowledge that whether we succeed or not, we’ll be alright, is the ultimate antidote to fear. That’s why in this article we’ll be discussing several solid ways to turn your business failures into successes or how to fail forward.
3 Important Ways To Turn Business Failure Into Success
Let’s assume that your company has experienced several losses in the past year, and nothing seems to be going right. Or say, you’ve run out of capital and don’t know what to do next. For all intents and purposes, both of these scenarios are failures. But how do you turn these business failures around?
1. Embrace Failures And Seek Inspiration
Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. However, our human craving for approval and admiration can make it seem like it is. Successful people use failure as stepping-stones to greatness. The key is not to lose confidence.
After failing, embrace the fact that you have failed. Acknowledge that this does not say anything about your value as a human being or an entrepreneur, and vow to learn. If you’re struggling to embrace your failure, take some inspiration from some extremely successful people who overcame theirs.
Richard Branson, the billionaire business magnate and investor said, “There will be lots of downs. Do your best to fight tooth and nail to survive. And if you don’t survive, if you have worked damned hard, don’t get down about it. There’s a lot of successful entrepreneurs who have picked themselves up and started again.”
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2. Perform SWOT Analyses Of Your Business Processes And Systems
The goal of a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is to locate the business processes that are working and those that aren’t.
Failure gives you the opportunity to see your business through new eyes. With a SWOT analysis, you can test business processes and make them better than ever before.
Here are the elements that you must assess in an effective SWOT analysis:
- Strengths: The strengths of your business are the internal systems and processes that are working well. These are the factors you want to capitalise on and develop further.
- Weaknesses: These are the subpar internal processes. The weaknesses of your businesses aren’t working properly and need to be examined to prevent further damage. Failure offers the perfect opportunity to find these weaknesses and fix them.
- Opportunities: These positive external players that hint at great possibilities in the future. This is another area on which to capitalise.
- Threats are negative external factors that potentially lead to company damage. One example of a threat is your competition.
Business failure often results from unforeseen threats. However, these failures allow you to foresee and avoid another potentially more damaging threat in the future and head off a greater failure.
You want to figure out what areas of your business are vulnerable to these threats and devise a plan that will make these areas less vulnerable to harm.
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3. Gather Feedback, Get Organised And Take Action
Be sure to gather feedback from the stakeholders in your business. These are your employees, your customers, and your sponsors. Distribute surveys and ask these players for their suggestions and complaints.
Additionally, note that the lack of organisation kills progress. With the information you’ve gained from your SWOT analysis and from soliciting feedback, start to organise your next actions. Being organised means that you manage your time properly, have good habits, and allocate the right amount of attention to each task.
Business failure serves as a wake-up call allowing you to reassess your goals and to devise plans to achieve them. Without any organisation, your business would have been doomed from the start.
Next, take action. To move past failure, transforming it into a blessing for your business, you need to act. No matter how little, be sure to take action every single day in alignment with your plans. Essentially, remaining consistent in your actions and avoiding procrastination at all costs is key.
Finally, take risks, challenge the status quo. Guido Laures, the CTO at the multi-billion dollar company Spreadshirt, said, “If failing is an accepted part of doing business and the blame game is not embedded in the organization, the risk is not perceived as a threat anymore. The emphasis is on learning from mistakes to not repeat them rather than being too timid to attempt something for fear of reprisals.”
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Failure is not the end. At the risk of sounding trite, remember that in life and in business, we must all encounter failures to come out on top. Be sure to learn from the stories of entrepreneurs who have failed before you and failed forward.
Have you ever failed as an entrepreneur before? How did you move past it? Let us know in the comments below!
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