Did you know that Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates' first business, Traf-O-Data, was a flop? Or that before he was president, Abraham Lincoln had a retail store that went bankrupt? As an entrepreneur, it's important to recognize and understand that failure is a part of business. Many successful business owners have failed in a business venture at some point in their entrepreneurial career.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of "entrepreneur" is a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money. The key piece of this definition is willing to risk loss. Going into business is a risk--but where there is no risk, there is no reward. It's the reward of entrepreneurship that should encourage you to start again after a failure.
If you have had multiple failed business attempts in the past, here are some keys to help you start again.
Before you begin, take some time for reflection:
Evaluate why the business failed. Write down everything that went well, and everything that didn't. Think about what you can do differently next time if you are faced with a similar situation. How can you handle it better? How can you improve in your problem-solving? There is nothing wrong with making a mistake. The key is to learn from those past mistakes so you don't repeat them. Take the knowledge you've gained from your experience and use it to build your next venture.
Separate your identity from your business. A true entrepreneur is resilient. They are able to bounce back and recover quickly after a failure or misstep in business. You didn't fail; the business did. Although you do have to reflect and assess why it happened, it's important to not lose confidence in yourself. A failed business does not define who you are as an entrepreneur.
Assess your attitude. In order to succeed, you will need determination and a positive attitude. Many top entrepreneurs share a key trait: optimism. You have to be able to find the silver lining in every situation.
After reflecting, the best thing to do is keep moving forward. Forge ahead with these tips:
First, find a product or service you are passionate about that will fill a need in the marketplace. What can you offer and how can you make it stand out? Begin to develop your new business plan. To be a successful business, you have to solve someone's problem. Take time to do research on your business idea and the market that you believe will support it.
Find your "why." Why does this business exist? Why is the company here? When you have a full understanding of why, you then have a motivator and driving force to help propel your business into success. Knowing the why in your business will be the catalyst that inspires action. When you have a unique and genuine why, you will set your business apart from the competition.
Calculate the costs. Being able to accurately estimate business expenses and project income is key to success. Make sure to have a budget for the expenses, and set sales goals for the income. Although it is understandable that every business doesn't profit immediately, the closer you are to your estimations, the better chance for success you will have. Learn how to keep your expectations high while remaining realistic.
Build a dream team. Having the right people in place on your team can make a world of difference in the success of your business. Find and hire people that are willing to make your vision their vision. Find people with strengths in areas that you know you need help with--it might be sales, marketing, social media, scheduling, or writing. Take time to carefully search for and select the right people to fill each position needed on your dream team. Communicate the company's mission, vision and values, and make sure each team member puts them at the forefront of what they do.
Set clear goals. You and your team need clear goals to aim for. Having well-written goals will provide a road map for the direction of your business. You will also gain clarity regarding the action steps to take to reach them. Set goals for everything, and review them often.
If all else fails, keep trying. Pick up and try again. Don't ever give up! There is another side to the blood, sweat and tears of entrepreneurship: among other things, it's the freedom, the fulfillment and the unlimited income potential. In the end, the payoff for your hard work as an entrepreneur is guaranteed, but only if you keep at it!