When you’ve put all your time and energy into a business idea, seeing it fail can be a soul-crushing experience. It’s certainly not uncommon, though, and the rate of business failure gets higher with every year. You have only a 50/50 chance of hitting the five-year mark, and less than one-third of businesses make it to year 10.
But if you treat a business failure as a learning experience, it can be your stepping stone to greater success. In the mid-80s, FedEx released Zapmail, which offered electronic deliveries. Two years later, it had cost the company nearly $350 million. As you undoubtedly know, FedEx didn’t fold. It kept going, and in 2010, it had $35 billion in revenue.
Don’t let a business failure beat you down. Here are seven secret weapons that will help you bounce back from a failure or setback.
Learn with SCORE
“You get what you pay for” isn’t always true. SCORE is a nonprofit offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that focuses on assisting small businesses.
Not only does it have a wealth of valuable information on its website, but it also allows you to find a free business mentor to help you take your business to the next level.
Evaluate your company culture
It’s easy to overlook the role your company culture plays when it comes to success, but a positive culture will lead to much better results, less employee turnover and increased revenue.
If your employees are happy, they’ll handle challenging problems more quickly and even outperform their peers by 20 percent.
Consider ways to improve the culture at your company, such as more open communication and asking for your employees’ opinions and ideas. By making a few small changes to your workplace culture, you can make a big impact on your bottom line.
Automate what you can
The best business leaders use automation to save their time for higher priority tasks. No matter how long you work, there’s only so much time in the day. As a leader, it’s important that you use your time wisely and focus on what you’re good at, and what brings money in the door.
Marketing expert, Bradley Shaw, offers these suggestions for automation, “There are many tools that can help you automate everyday tasks. Hootsuite can schedule social media posts for you. MailChimp can handle your email marketing. With every task you perform, see what automation options are available and consider the potential return on investment.”
Burn your business plan
Your old business plan didn’t work, and clinging to it will only hold you back. Erase it and perform a SWOT Analysis of your business to figure out the best way to move forward.
A SWOT analysis helps you evaluate your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. By mapping those out, you can brainstorm ways to take advantage of opportunities and avoid future pitfalls.
Once you have some ideas in mind, make a new business plan, but this time, make it easy by using a Lean Canvas. This will allow you to implement your new plan more quickly, and get your new business ideas underway.
Get rid of underperforming products and services
It’s never easy to abandon products and services that you’ve spent time creating and marketing. Just like you need to purge yourself of your previous business plan, you also need to eliminate anything that’s underperforming.
When you continue to provide these products, they only distract from your real moneymakers and take up time you could use for development. Set a hard line in terms of profitability and cut anything that doesn’t reach it.
Re-evaluate your target market
A great business idea means nothing if you’re targeting the wrong people or casting too wide of a net. Think about whether you could have better success by focusing on a new target market that your products better serve.
Make sure your target market is specific, as well. A broad target market is just as bad as having no target market at all. After all, no product or service is a good fit for everyone. But if you can find your tribe, you’ll adopt a following of loyal, raving customers.
Hire an accountant
Money management is vital to any business’s success, and that’s exactly why you need an accountant. Your accountant can help you maximize your tax deductions and track where your money is going, each of which can save you quite a bit.
Making money is important, but so is using your money wisely. If you don’t have an accountant, you could be overspending without even realizing it.
No one likes to fail, but success in business depends on how you react to failures. When you learn from your business failures and move forward with your newfound knowledge, you’ll have the right tools to improve your startup and find long-term success.