Don't Let Failure Drag Your Small Business Down

January 03, 2013

Small business owners must overcome obstacles on a regular basis. Those that succeed learn to turn these obstacles into assets.

As an entrepreneur, every failure you encounter is actually an essential building block in your future success. What’s important is being able to recognize that. As the inventor Alexander Graham Bell said: “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Colonel Sanders and H.J. Heinz all went bust before going on to earn huge success. It took Ford three attempts to set up a company capable of fulfilling his vision of mass-producing affordable cars. So what does it take to shrug off adversity and persist in following your dream of starting up your own firm – even when reality seems to be telling you to give it up?

Two of the most important traits of successful entrepreneurs are a stubborn determination to not take no for an answer and a tenacious persistence no matter what the obstacles. Some might say a touch of madness is necessary also; certainly the hard-driving style of many of the most successful entrepreneurs has, at times, resembled lunacy to others. An unshakeable belief in yourself and an unswerving faith in your own ability and your Big Idea are important (perhaps essential) traits of a founder of a successful small business. That means not going gaga when mishaps occur, but instead dealing with the ups and downs as the comes and, most importantly, turning the situation to your advantage. Seeing the bright side of every setback isn’t the naïve optimism of Dr. Pangloss, the mentor of Voltaire’s Candide, who refuses to be downhearted by all the mishaps and accidents that befall him, because of his fervent belief that in this best of all possible worlds everything is for the best. It’s the flexibility necessary to succeed in business. Mistakes aren’t terminal failures, so much as signposts on the road to success. Sir Winston Churchill certainly thought so – and he made plenty of them. His definition of success cheerfully acknowledges that fact and it is one that every entrepreneur should take to heart. He said: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Because if you fail enough times, sooner or later, you’re going to know exactly what it takes to be successful.