Four Ways of Overcoming Setbacks as an Entrepreneur

by | May 11, 2020 | Blog, Inspiration, Mindset, Tips | 0 comments

Setbacks are an inevitable part of starting a business, especially if you started it from scratch. As an entrepreneur, you should expect it and be prepared for when it happens. It is not the setbacks that really matters, it is the getting back on track that counts. 

One of my favourite entrepreneurs is Richard Branson. To me, he is the biggest risk-takers when it comes to business, I don’t think there is anything he wouldn’t try. I tend to be like that myself, you can imagine I have had my share of failures and setbacks. I deal with it almost the same way he has for his failed business ventures, I share a bit of what he has done below along with the four ways I deal with my setbacks. 

I never ever give up.

When I first started my business about 5 years ago, I made a promise to myself that no matter how hard things got, I would not give up and my business still has a very long way to go but I keep moving forward, no matter how small the pace. You can redefine the way you do things, you can start over with a new approach but don’t give up completely. When Entrepreneur Rod Kurtz asked Branson in an interview what he would have done differently about his failed attempt at Virgin Cola, Branson said, “At Virgin, we don’t spend much time regretting the past, and we don’t let mistakes or failures get to us, and we certainly don’t fear failure. We picked ourselves up and tried again and searched for opportunities in other gaps in the market”. This can be true for any business no matter the size or turnover. Remember that every challenge is an opportunity for you to learn something about yourself and your business, take the lesson, and keep it moving. 

I pause for a short while to identify what caused the setback.

It is true what they say, you cannot solve a problem unless you know what created it. I normally take some days to really think about the situation I am in. I cannot think in the middle of clutter and chaos, I have to take myself out of it to clear my head and really think. Now, some challenges are out of our control, but you need to identify how it’s affecting your business and how you can guard yourself in the future. A good example is COVID-19, it is out of our control but it’s affecting every single business, is your business online? Can it be online? If not, what else can you do to stay ahead of a similar situation? Remember, redefine, redirect but don’t stagnate.

I try my best to not lose focus.

It is so easy for you to want to put all your resources towards recovering from a setback, and it is probably something that comes naturally, but it isn’t necessarily the best solution. In the words of Branson, when dealing with a setback, “it is not the time for pointing fingers, or assigning blame – it’s time to reflect and gather data. If you have a team, this is the time to really delegate, to make sure your business keeps operating as normal as possible while you deal with the setback. If you are a sole proprietor, perhaps you should sit and strategize on how you will deal with the setback and still continue business as usual to some extent. These are just examples and it will be different for everyone but the gist of it is, you have lost a battle, not the war, if you devote all your time and resources to that one battle, you will be left with nothing to continue the war. I know I have gone into military lingo here but I hope you get what I mean, don’t lose focus of the bigger picture.

I tap into my support system and ask for help

I do this both on a personal and business level. My friends and family probably suffer most when I am going through a setback because they have to hear me vent about the same thing for hours. I am fortunate enough to have people willing to lend an ear and it really does help to talk about it. The same is true business-wise, I have people that I consider mentors and that I go to for business advise or help. I do not always get the exact help I need, nor do I have people with a magic wand that make everything go away, but just knowing that I can call on them even if it is just for a chat makes me feel so much better. Try to build a network of people you can go to when things are falling apart, it really does help to offload. 

I want to end my article with something Richard Branson said in an interview when asked what he hoped his film Don’t Look Down would teach the latest generation of entrepreneurs, he said “never give up, even if it sounds slightly corny. Fight, fight, fight to survive. If you fight to survive and you don’t, pick yourself up the next day and keep trying until you do succeed.

Further reading: 

Richard Branson on dealing with setbacks:

Richard Branson’s four steps to accepting failure:

Is every entrepreneur a bit of a Daredevil? Richard Branson things so: 


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