Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dealing with Setbacks in Business

It’s common knowledge that a large number of businesses fail during their first five years. However, it’s how you deal with setbacks that determine the ultimate outcomes.

Let’s look at some of the common reasons why businesses experience the setbacks that ultimately cause them to fail.

Your reasons for starting a business should not be to make a lot of money, spend more time with your family, or so that you won’t have to answer to anyone else. These reasons lead to quick setbacks because the truth of the matter is, when you first start a business, you must wear many hats. At this point your days will become longer than you ever imagined and you will inevitably spend more money than you planned to. Instead you should start your business because you love what you do, you have the drive, determination and patience to persevere, and you’re not willing to let failure defeat you.

The second reason businesses fail or experience setbacks is poor management. New business owners cannot afford to be naïve about their weaknesses. If you lack expertise in areas such as finance, production, or marketing, then you need to surround yourself with people that have strength in those areas. New business owners must also be entrepreneurial in their thinking; always looking for the next big thing, innovative.

Thirdly, insufficient capital due to underestimating start up costs and operating expenses as well as unrealistic sales expectations, can also lead to setbacks.

Finally, lack of planning can deal a devastating blow even to well established companies. A sound business plan, marketing plan, and financial plan are all essential to starting and maintaining a successful company. It is here that you can develop strategies dealing with potential setbacks. Without plans in place, your company may not rebound. An entrepreneur, if he is to truly be successful, must be able to plan and organize.

Now that we have looked at potential setbacks, let’s talk about how to deal with them.

It’s safe to say all of us deserve to be successful. The reality is, however, that we will most definitely experience setbacks or failures in our lifetime. The same is true in business. But, what separates a successful business from a failed business is how you deal with setbacks.

Parker Palmer once said, “In the west, our fixation on success discourages us from risk taking because it values success over learning and it abhors failure whether we learn from it or not.”

With this mindset our successes are sure to be few. Instead when setbacks arise, we must stop looking at the glass half empty and begin looking at it as half full.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

Setbacks are not a sign of weakness, stupidity, or dumbness. They are a chance for improvement and growth. CEO’s from companies such as Dell and Microsoft admit that some of their biggest failures led to some of their greatest innovations. They took the time to learn from their setbacks. Every setback teaches you something. The more mistakes you make, the smarter you can become.

“Never allow anyone, including yourself, to label you as a failure.” Abraham Lincoln

Every success story is also a story of failure. The only difference is, the successful people didn’t give up.

Finally, when dealing with setbacks, be patient. Setbacks can cause your goals to be delayed, but in the long run, things will work out.

Look at setbacks as an opportunity to improve; a road to success. Be committed to your business. Counteract setbacks with innovative and new ideas. Dealing with your setbacks effectively will catapult you into the realm of the successful.

Cheryl Lacey Donovan is an author educator, inspirational speaker, and talk show host. Visit her at

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