Four steps not to take after a setback

It can sometimes feel like every entrepreneur’s story starts with a failure. Many of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs suffered a setback before they reached the levels of success that they are known for. But being able to succeed after a setback relies on responding in the right way. Here are four things not to do…

Lose your focus

Arianna Huffington is no stranger to a setback. She failed to garner publishers’ interest in her second novel. Fortunately, her mother reminded her that “failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a steppingstone to success.”

Instead of losing your focus because of the failure, focus on solutions and what you’re going to do to instead. “Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state,” Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart, says. “When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions which hinder self-control. When you focus on the actions you’ll take to better yourself and your circumstances you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.”

Bury your emotions

Failure is hard. You’re bound to feel upset that your plans haven’t worked out and scared of trying again. Rather than burying your emotions, embrace them and deal with them.

“Embrace fear, learn from it and move on to your next business venture with courage and the knowledge that if you don’t hit upon a success you’ll have the will to do it again and take on the next challenge,” Richard Branson says.

Ignore the lessons

Every failure comes with lessons. Whether it’s specific things that you shouldn’t repeat in business, or just that you need to hone your idea more, every mistake in business will come with ideas that you should take with you into the next step.

“Why is failing, or losing our way, considered such a bad thing? Why don’t we see it as the next step in our journey – as a learning experience, or as an opportunity to try again with more knowledge behind us?” Sam Branson says. “I see life as one long lesson, so if you’re learning from your mistakes then you can never really fail – you’re just on a constant journey to success.”

Continue as normal

When you’ve suffered a setback, you need to take the time to analyse what’s happened and what went wrong so that you can plan what your next steps are properly.

“By analysing it, hopefully what you do is give it some emotional distance,” psychologist Kim Stephens says. “Then if you can get your critical friends alongside you, you can dissect it a bit and try to work out whether it was fundamentally a good idea, whether there are changes needed to the business plan, and whether there is a way that you can make it work.”


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