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A Business Setback: 3 Steps To Take


Failures: 3 Steps ToTake When You Have A Business Setback

Is That A Cloud I See?  


I took this picture on a beautiful sunny morning not too long ago.                                        

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and this amazing set of clouds was sitting on top of the mountains right behind my house.


And I was struck by how magnificent this cloud looked. And it also hit me that I saw something beautiful while my friend looked at this same cloud and said “oh no!”


I smiled at our very different reactions to the cloud and it reminded me of a conversation I was having the previous week about starting 

up a new business, and how commitment and expectations are very important and that you must be in it for the long haul. We both agreed that if you do not give yourself three years, you are making a mistake. And we also both agreed that there will definitely be bumps along the way. And finally, we agreed it is important to expect bumps, to not let them get you down, and to keep going.


Bumps and Clouds Are Guaranteed

When taking on a new endeavor, be it a brand new business, a new product, a new marketing campaign, or a new strategy, it is important to reach for the stars and plan to achieve the maximum possible. Be passionate. However, bumps and clouds are guaranteed. Thomas Edison said it well when he said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” So, when planning to take on something new, here are 3 key guidelines to handle the inevitable “failures” along the way to your success.


How to Handle the Clouds: 3 Key Guidelines

1.Set not a doable goal, but a stretch goal.  Dream, and make a plan to make that dream a reality. And then divide that plan into very small measurable steps. This is key. If you divide the plan into very small executable, measureable steps, then when you do fail, it will only be the failure of a small step, not the entire plan.


2.Be realistic, and work with your eyes open.  Do not lie to yourself, but rather acknowledge quickly when something has failed, when something is not working. Blame is not important. What is important is recognizing the failure and analyzing why the failure occurred. What failed exactly? Learn from your failure. I know you have heard this a zillion times, but it is really what differentiates those who ultimately succeed. Document the failure – what occurred and why.


3.Coming up with a solution to the failure, a different approach, a different method, a different angle is the final key. Do not just keep doing the same thing over and over if it has failed before and expect a different outcome. It won’t happen.      


You have to change something!  I know this sounds so logical that it seems silly to set down as a rule. But let me tell you, in the throes of a failure, even a failure of a very small step, it is so easy to just try the same thing again, maybe with a slight variation, but really the same.  


It’s like that Dating-Gone-Bad Advice show where the girl keeps dating the same type of guy, yes he has a different name, but he is the same guy, and every time, it ends up not working. And she can’t figure it out. Or making the same New Year’s resolution year after year, but not doing anything different to make it happen. 


So, in summary:  

1.Plan very small executable and measureable steps.

2.Analyze and learn from your failure

3.Find a solution, and be sure it is different from what failed


And finally, at the end of every day, it is great to take 5 minutes and note the accomplishments and successes you had that day, whatever they were. I suggest putting this 5 minutes on your calendar, whether it is at the end of your work day, or after dinner, or before bed. Compile a list, by date of what you accomplished on that day. Why? Because sometimes we focus on the negatives and forget the good things we accomplished during the day. And most importantly, on those days (and note I used a plural “days”), when you do have a failure, you can pull out that accomplishments list and find the motivation to keep going.

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