Whenever we are stuck with a project or an enterprise that we have failed, tackling the emotional aspect can be far more daunting than dealing with the real problem.
Here are 5 tips that will get you rejuvenated and help you tackle your actions:
1. Accept it
Don't be afraid to accept that something has gone wrong. When things go wrong, we move through several emotional stages before we reach acceptance. Our first reaction is to deny the failure or loss; this is followed by anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. It is important to move through the various stages to acceptance as fast as possible. Here are some ways that might help you to do this.
- Create social support: Connect and network with entrepreneurs and groups (online and offline) so that you can learn from other's solutions and ways of dealing with different issues that may come up.
- Don't generalize failure: Work on dis-associating business failure with personal failure, this can be a challenge if the family and friends environment is not supportive of failure.
- Learn to let go: Above all, work hard and try your best, if you have not succeeded in spite of this learn to let go. This is hard, but not impossible.
2. Understand that failure is part of the learning process for most entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurial resilience comes from mining failures for lessons on how to succeed in the future.
A SBRC (2002) study tracked what the owners of closed businesses had done on exit. The majority (60 per cent) continued as business owners by opening or buying a new or similar business to the one closed, or through the existing ownership of another business. Around 10 per cent of owners retired from active involvement. Only 30 per cent dropped their entrepreneurial ambitions by returning to employment or becoming unemployed.
Some entrepreneurs believe that coping with setbacks and crises is the best way to learn about entrepreneurship and running a business. When asked to rate their skills after closure compared to when they started, entrepreneurs cited a number of improvements including business planning, building a customer base and ﬁnancial record keeping. However, they rated managing and motivating themselves through the changing fortunes of their venture as the most valuable learning experience (SBRC, 2002).
3. Welcome the fear of failure
Fear of failing, often prevents an entrepreneur from trying again. This fear can be turned around to an entrepreneur's advantage. Extreme fear can paralyze and keep us in our comfort zones. Entrepreneurs can challenge this fear by looking at it in a different perspective. Fear of failure helps us to plan better, take more calculated risks as well as have a plan B in place to face crises. If hope of success is an accelerator then fear of failure is a brake. Both are important to ensure that the car of entrepreneurship completes its journey successfully.
4. Deal with the shame
Most entrepreneurs are Achievement Motivated and possess an internal Locus of Control, which means that they attribute the reasons for success or failure to internal causes. It is this tendency that creates the experience of shame for many failed entrepreneurs who hold themselves solely responsible for their failure. Loss of status is another factor that adds to this sense of shame. It is important not internalize failure to reflect an entrepreneur's worth as a person. Failure is not a reflection of the whole self rather it is a measure of the inability to accomplish one specific task at a single moment in time.
Managing hurt pride, loss of face and not giving too much importance to other people's opinions and judgments will also help the entrepreneur maintain a sense of efficacy.
5. Strengthen your strengths
While it's important to learn from mistakes and failure, it is equally important to take stock of our strengths. Entrepreneurs also need to focus on what went right, recognize the strengths of their entrepreneurial style and reinforce these to create the foundation for future success. This also helps entrepreneurs to deal with the negative emotions that are typically associated with failure and bounce back once again.
About the author: Mukti Shah is a Clinical Psychologist, Corporate Consultant and an accredited Entrepreneurial Motivation Trainer.