We don’t spend enough time talking about failure. No matter what stage you are in, at some point, life goes out of its way to karate chop you in the chest. And when that happens, what do you do? How does your brand not just survive, but thrive?
Failure is one of the best things that can happen to you at the worst time. With it, you gain insights you may never have encountered otherwise. Today, I’m going to share ways to take failure and turn it into actionable next steps.
Level One: Missed Milestones
I’ve categorized failure into three subgroups. On paper, the first one is a minor issue. It’s when you forget to return a phone call to a lead, miss an important meeting or don’t hit your milestones. These things happen all the time. They’re the slap-on-the-wrist type of offenses.
The core problem with level-one failures is that, if they happen enough, you will lose revenue. Imagine not returning three or more leads’ phone calls. Business just doesn’t work like that.
So, what do you do? Well, these failures are usually the result of weak execution on a process. All the examples above were lacking some type of execution. You get one freebie, one mistake. If it happens twice, you need to stop, look at your process and determine how it can be improved.
As an example, what if you never missed a milestone again because, within your process, there were sub-milestones and reminders to heighten the chances of success? As long as the expectations are realistic, you should be advancing.
Level Two: Money Problems
You’d think this would be a level-three threat, but you would be mistaken. Money problems are a common source of stress for new businesses. Where do you get leads, how do you keep clients, where is that next check coming from? These are all speed bumps you must find a way to overcome or you risk going out of business.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ease the weight on your shoulders. For starters, put aside a portion of your current revenue for a rainy day. The ideal situation is to have enough reserves to last a year without new work.
Let’s say you don’t have any revenue to put aside — then what? In these cases, remind yourself to live within your means. If you know your revenue projections aren’t going to blow up in the next few months, don’t waste all your money on crazy stunts. Preserve what you have.
Use this time to review your past campaigns and analytics. Go back and let the numbers decide what move to make next. Let’s say you only have $1,000 left in the bank. You can’t afford to try something new, so don’t buy anything. Go back and looked at what campaigns worked and find out how you can improve them and relaunch.
The obvious cure to money problems is to bring in new money — that’s a given. But to bring in new money, you need time. Don’t get distracted by the noise and make terrible choices. Instead, take time to reflect on what could be done better.
Level Three: The Dream Team
No man is an island, and no man can change the world alone. Everyone needs help. At some point in running your business, you will lose top talent. Sometimes they will be forced out, while other times, they will leave by choice. Whatever the case may be, losing top talent is one of the most crippling things that can happen not only to your brand but to the team that is left behind. It shakes everything and everyone.
If talent is forced out, ask yourself why. It’s easy to blame others, but it’s hard to reflect and determine whether they had the tools to stay. If talent walks out, go back to when you hired them. Did you really understand why they wanted to work on your team? Did you see their career vision? So many times we lose dream team members because we are so focused on ourselves and our cause and forget that it’s a team effort.
Failure isn’t always bad. Sometimes, it’s the best thing that can happen to someone. The secret is, you need to be open to learning from it. You need to take responsibility and see what gems you can pull from the carnage — I guarantee there will be some.