What to Do When Your Business Fails

The saying, “what goes up must come down” can unfortunately apply to the success of your business. Making mistakes and failing at certain ventures from time to time is a natural part of life. Many of the most prominent business tycoons today have experienced their own small business nightmares. No one is born a raving success.

It takes time and experience to learn the skills and attitudes that a business professional needs to excel in their industry, and one of the best ways to learn is by failing. Of course, don’t go out of your way to fail on purpose, but instead of seeing each mishap as an unrecoverable defeat, perceive it as the learning opportunity that it is. Learning from success can be tricky, but you can always learn from your mistakes. Here’s what you can do to make the most of it when your business fails.

Find the Value in Failure

As mentioned before, failure is a part of life. If you look closely, you’ll realize that there’s actually value in the failure of a business. Mistakes and mishaps should serve more as helpful guides to success rather than utter pitfalls. It’s really all about having the right mindset.

If you go into a business venture already knowing that there’s a chance you will fail (and most likely there will be one time or another), then you will not receive as much of a shock if it happens. It’ll help you remain optimistic when the time comes and push you to persevere despite setbacks.

Use this time to reflect on the why, as well as what, should have been done to prevent it from happening (instead of fearing when your next failure will occur). Perhaps the cause was something more technical, like needing more up-to-date emailing systems or accounting software. Or the problem could lie in not understanding your target audience enough.

Experiencing these mistakes and understanding why they occurred now can also help you prevent larger ones from happening in the future. Although you may be doubting your instincts now, it’s important that you still listen to them. Learn from your failures, but don’t lose faith in yourself and intuition because of it.

Time to Clock In

After your business fails, you’ll most likely have accrued a good amount of debt that needs to be repaid. This doesn’t mean you need to give up your entrepreneurial dreams for good. Howver, you do need time to process what happened and form a new and better game plan for your next venture. Don’t see returning to a full-time job as a sort of failure either.

Plenty of successful entrepreneurs have had to return to office work when they experienced setbacks of their own and became more skilled business professionals because of it. Not only will you rebuild your finances, but you will also gain more experience and learn from the ups and downs of the company you work for.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the boundless networking opportunities as well. You never know who could be a future client or mentor. However, depending on how long you were previously in business for, companies may or may not be as willing to hire an entrepreneur.

Candidates who have been self-employed for over five years may be perceived as having problems with authority or will have conflicting loyalties and not stay with the company for the long haul. The best thing you can do is sell yourself the best you can and explain how the skills you gained as an entrepreneur would make you a stellar employee.

Try Again

Okay, waiting time is over. Today’s the day to start again with a new business. You have experienced failure, but you came  stronger for it. Take what you’ve learned and incorporate it in the business you’re trying to build.

  • By being proactive and doing your research, it should be easier to come up with a plan for your company from start to finish to ensure a greater chance of success. Your plan should not only address the personal side of small businesses, but also the technological aspects of it as well.
  • Utilize all the contacts you have made to receive input and give your entrepreneurial venture a fighting chance. Even when you don’t succeed at a particular kind of business, it can still open your eyes to new opportunities you could be better suited at. You learn more about yourself and gain new skills that can help you in different markets and niches.
  • It’s OK to move on from old plans and dreams and explore something you’re more excited about. Working for yourself in a business you feel lackluster about isn’t any better than working at the desk job you’re trying to escape.

It’s never fun to fail, but failure has more uses than we could ever imagine. It helps to have the right attitude before going into any venture, and returning to a full-time job after a business failure can improve your skills and finances as well help you with networking. Then you’ll be ready to try again, whether it be in the same or in a different industry.

With the survival rate for small businesses on the rise, you too can make it as an entrepreneur, despite setbacks you may have experienced before. Whatever you decide to do, remember that failure happens to us all, but it’s ultimately up to you to treat is as a road block or a stepping stone to future success.


Devin Morrissey

Devin has been a dishwasher, a business owner, and everything in between. It took him a while to settle on a dream, so he tried out everyone else's to varying degrees of success. You can find him in Daly City or on Twitter, whichever is closer.

Hello my name is Richard my excavating business is failing badd some mistakes are mine and others are general contractors who flat don’t pay which led me to this position I am in now one lesson I have learned is it really does not pay to be the nice guy all the time (lesson learned)learned)

Richard- Sorry to hear of your troubles. Managing cash flow is one of the biggest challenges for businesses and when you don’t get paid it can often be disastrous. I wish you the best of luck and hope you can survive these tough times and come back stronger in the future.

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