Entrepreneurship is fraught with risks, uncertainty, and emotional turbulence. Business failure is often viewed as a scary, unpredictable, and potentially catastrophic event. Nevertheless, successful entrepreneurs are no strangers to failure. Many have experienced setbacks, bad decisions, or flawed business plans before achieving success. In the end, the beauty of failure is the opportunity it provides to learn, grow, and pivot towards success. As the late Aaliyah said, “If at first, you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.”
Here are six ways to learn and pivot from an entrepreneurial journey gone awry:
Reevaluate Your Business Plan
One of the first steps after experiencing failure is to reevaluate your business plan. Consider pivoting if necessary. Was your product or service not ready for the market? What feedback did you receive? Identify what went wrong and why, then create actionable takeaways you can use in the future. Instead of wallowing in defeat, take constructive steps towards understanding where things went awry. Self-reflection should be part of your quarterly, annual, or semi-annual review.
Set New, Attainable Goals
Setting goals that are smart and attainable is critical. Take a look at what went wrong with the project that failed and understand why it failed. Sometimes our failures are simply viewed as such because of the goals we set. Setting unrealistic goals can set us up for failure. Instead, set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals (SMART goals). For example, if your goal is to achieve 1,000 users, start by collecting enough emails or contact information from your promoted post, build a following or brand awareness that can get you to 1,000 users more easily.
Learn a Valuable Lesson
Failure can be a valuable lesson. After experiencing a setback, take a moment to consider what you can learn from the situation. Did you trust someone without fully vetting them? Did you not have enough money saved for your venture? It is okay to make mistakes, and you can become better because of them. Remember not to make the same mistakes as you move on.
Take on New Skills That Will Take You Farther
Sometimes failure happens because we lack the right skills, or we need to fine-tune our existing skills. Once you’ve realized the areas in which you need to improve or sharpen, use the time to gain more knowledge. Learning new skills only broadens your horizons and can lead to unexpected opportunities.
Discover Your True Intentions and Purpose
Failure has a way of helping us prioritize what truly matters. Take a moment to reflect on what motivates you. Is it chasing money, helping others, serving your community, or something else entirely? Your true purpose may be hidden behind the mask of what you think a successful business looks like.
Encourage Others with Your Story
Sharing your failure story can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing, but it can also inspire and bring hope to someone struggling with similar issues. The vulnerable moments are where we can learn the most about ourselves and our journeys.
As an entrepreneur, taking risks is an integral part of your journey. It’s important to understand that failure is not the end, but an opportunity to learn, pivot, and grow. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your business plan, set new attainable goals, learn valuable lessons, take on new skills, discover your true intentions and purpose, and encourage others with your story. Remember, failure is what defines you as a risk-taking entrepreneur.