Let’s face it: failure happens. The worst thing you can do is convince yourself that nothing wrong is happening and continue as you are. Simply acknowledging that your business needs to recover is a critical first step to doing so. As entrepreneur John Rampton wrote, “Failure is a big part of being an entrepreneur. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs have come face-to-face with a failed business at some point. What makes a successful entrepreneur, however, is the ability to get back up and try again.”
This is a defining moment for you and your business. You certainly are not alone if your endeavor is suffering—even Bill Gates launched an unsuccessful business called Traf-O-Data. It’s true that you put a lot of effort in already, so the fact that you need to recover at all feels miserable, but attitude is everything. Brush it off, don’t take it personally or dwell on it, and get back to work.
Take a good, long, and detailed look at where you went wrong. Were you spending too much money on something that was unnecessary? Were you not reaching your intended audience, or somehow connecting with the wrong one? Were you using any outdated processes? Thanks to advances in technology, it’s possible to automate the more tedious tasks so that you can redirect your focus to actionable or valuable things. Poor record keeping is a trap that ensnares many businesses, so pledge to yourself that you will painstakingly monitor every detail in the future. Do this the help of cutting edge-software. Overexerting yourself may be one of the reasons your business is struggling in the first place.
Pay special attention to what really hurt you. It’s tempting to simply adjust the numbers aspect of your operations, but what you need to fix may be cultural. Entrepreneur notes that every small business market is already over-saturated:
“There will always be plenty of people selling goods and services at low or discounted prices. The strategy doesn’t make sense for long-term success, so stop focusing on them. Stop blaming them. You will succeed only by differentiating yourself from your competitors. A segment of the market will always be willing to invest in a product or service, so long as they perceive the value is aligned with their lifestyle choices.”
Don’t waste your time addressing issues that will not make a difference in the long run. Your business should put the customers first, so what is it that they are looking for that you did not initially give them? Once you determine what you need to do, target the proper audience, and understand that this process is going to take time.
How will you approach your needed changes? Be as specific as possible. It won’t help to have a vague objective, so define a concrete goal you can actively pursue. Financial Mentor recommends the “S.M.A.R.T.” set of guidelines: make your endeavor Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Saying “I want to do better” is not going to cut it. Instead, aiming to earn $20,000 after taxes the first quarter of 2019 is something that points you in an attainable direction. It’s measurable, too, so if you are not close to your goal by the beginning of March, it is clear that something else still needs adjusting. A realistic number is essential, as is a logical deadline: as tempting as it is promise yourself one million dollars, you do not want to stretch your abilities or make guarantees to clients that will only make you fail again. Remember, hard work is good, but overexertion is not.
Executing your plan is going to be emotionally challenging. The quip “kill your darlings” is a phrase that writers say to one another when they need to cut a certain segment of their work if it does not add value to the overall story—even if it is a beautiful piece of language. Determine what you need to spend money on, and what you like to spend money on. You may need to trim expenses that are hard to let go of, or even employees.
Be transparent with yourself, your customers or clients, and your suppliers. If your business is failing, you may need to win their confidence back, but keeping everything to yourself only pushes them away. Consumers want reliable brands, so even if you were not successful the first time around, honesty communicates that you are still trustworthy.
Entrepreneurship is a dynamic landscape, so failure is inevitable at some point or another. What is important is that you acknowledge this and learn from your mistakes—they may be exactly what you needed to shape your business into the enterprise you know it can be.
If you have questions regarding developing a recovery plan, the Currency Capital team is always available to offer guidance. Contact the team here.