Business development 10 October 2017

How to use failure to your advantage and build business resilience

Business failures can sometimes present opportunities to grow
Failure is not a word business owners often like to hear, yet Mary McGuire, author and personal development coach, believes that handling failure in the right way can lead to entrepreneurial success.

The word failure? is usually the elephant in the room we would rather not address. Failure means our business might perish, or we might do irreversible damage to our reputation. It might mean we lose jobs, threatening our financial security and that of our families.

Of course, failure is not something we should court, or welcome into our working life, but when viewed in the right way and used as a learning experience, it can provide more insight than unbridled success.

As Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, famously said: For every adversity, there is a seed of equivalent or greater benefit.

Sometimes, when we are in the midst of failure it is hard to see this. Look at any serial entrepreneur (including Richard Branson) and you will certainly find that failed projects have paved the way to their one big idea that was to break through.

I have worked in management, in business consultancy and as a business owner for over 25 years and Ive seen my own fair share of failures.

As a manager of residential services, I woefully underestimated the mood of my staff and nearly had a mass walk out to deal with. In some of my consultancy projects, Ive had to deal with spectacular fallouts with my clients. Ive even had to walk away from a very promising tech startup when I could see the lead inventor was not up to scratch.

I have learnt that for every failure there was an opportunity to grow, to reflect and to decide on a different path going forward.

Learning to accept failure does not mean that we lower our standards we use it to power us forward towards success and to do this we need to build up our business resilience.

The building blocks to business resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks or difficulties and quickly move forward, which requires us to have good building blocks.

The first of these building blocks is belief. We cannot achieve anything if we do not believe in ourselves or our efforts. But this belief needs to be grounded in a realistic awareness of what we can achieve. If we do not believe wholeheartedly in our efforts we have doomed them to failure from the outset.

Preparation is everything, and the best way we can do this is to plan in detail the steps we intend to take. The old adage fail to plan, plan to fail? is very true. Planning gives us a roadmap and allows us to re-trace our steps and find a new route sooner.

Understanding our plan, allows us to realistically estimate the work that is involved and assess the efforts and resources needed to help us to deliver the result.

This is a great skill for any business owner and if you find difficulty in getting down into the detail, find a partner who can, so that at least one person understands exactly what is needed and by when. Spending time on the detail will always pay dividends.

Put your efforts into a wider context

As a business owner, you need to be able to see challenges as just another blip on your journey, rather than proof that life is against you.

Avoiding drama when crisis hits allows you to stay clear headed and look at your options dispassionately.

You won’t be the first business that has faced some form of failure and you won’t be the last, so don’t dwell on it for too long. As soon as possible, pick up the pieces and start to build a better plan and a clearer vision.

Be realistic


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