Every business faces setbacks at some point. Whether it’s a campaign that didn’t perform as well as you expected or a product that experienced major delays in production, setbacks seem to be part of the everyday entrepreneurial experience. What really makes a difference is how you respond to them.
Here, 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share how they respond when they experience setbacks in their businesses and what steps they take to effectively reset and move forward.
1. Lean Into The Failure
We pull every team member involved into a retrospective and encourage everyone to dump every failure they can think of on a board. Once that happens, the group sheds ego and is able to learn from the failure, which is the only thing you can do once it has happened. The opportunity to learn through failure is the single most impactful driver of growth for any company. – Anthony C Johnson, Stellium.co
2. Reflect And Identify The Root Cause
When facing a setback, I prioritize taking a step back to reflect and analyze the situation. By identifying the root cause and learning from our mistakes, we turn challenges into opportunities for growth. This approach allows us to adapt and implement new strategies, ensuring continuous improvement. Embracing a resilient mindset and focusing on lessons learned fosters a strong, agile team that can navigate setbacks effectively and drive Velvet Caviar toward long-term success. In a dynamic business environment, resilience and adaptability are key to thriving amid challenges. – Michelle Aran, Velvet Caviar
3. Analyze Data And Evaluate Individuals
Take a two-pronged approach: analyzing data and evaluating individuals responsible for key performance indicators. First, collect and analyze data at every level of the organization. Identify areas costing the company significantly with little return on investment, make informed decisions about where to cut back and invest more resources in growth drivers. Second, evaluate individuals associated with underperforming metrics. Understand why this has happened and whether it’s due to a lack of training or poor performance. Address the root cause, provide necessary support or take disciplinary action as needed. This step ensures a culture of accountability, allowing the business to bounce back from setbacks and maintain a growth trajectory. – Jinny Hyojin Oh, WANDR
4. Maintain A Positive Attitude
I know that setbacks are a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey and it’s how I handle them that defines me. By staying optimistic and persistent, I can overcome any obstacle that comes my way. Maintaining a positive attitude is effective for several reasons. First, it helps me maintain a sense of resilience in the face of adversity. Rather than giving up or getting discouraged, I can stay motivated and focused on finding a solution to the problem. Second, a positive attitude is contagious. When I’m able to maintain a positive outlook, it can inspire and motivate others around me. This is especially important when working with a team, as a negative attitude can quickly spread and lead to a toxic work environment. – Sujay Pawar, CartFlows
5. Look At The Full Picture
The first thing I do when our business faces setbacks is a fast zoom-out to see the full picture and not only fix the issue, but also see the opportunity out there so we win from that situation. It’s been effective for the past 14 years. It led me to realize that any recession, attack or business problem came with something good at the end of the day. – Alexandru Stan, Tekpon
6. Check In With Your Mental State
When I experience a setback in business, I first take care of my mental state—my motivation and confidence in my abilities. It is important to stay positive and remind yourself of your bigger purpose, the impact you are trying to achieve and that this setback is simply feedback so that you can improve. It is also very helpful to reread thank-you letters from your customers or even positive Google reviews of your business to remind yourself of your past success and that your work matters. This usually cheers me up, helps me to refocus my attention on my mission and build a growth mindset. – Feruza Djamalova, Sobirovs Law Firm
7. Take A Moment To Pause
Pause and reflect! Running a business is a game of “go, go and go.” However, it is important to take a step back and reflect when setbacks happen. You can do this by going offline, asking the team to take a breather or just focusing on other things besides the setback at hand. In those moments of reflection, you begin to understand that some setbacks could be a function of your product, others might be a function of your strategy and more. Once you are in a much better headspace, you can reenergize and make the right decision with the team. – Paul-Miki Akpablie, Akos Technologies Inc.
8. Adopt A Growth Mindset
Setbacks are an inevitable part of the business journey. While it can be discouraging to encounter obstacles, I have learned that the best way to deal with setbacks is to adopt a growth mindset and approach them as learning opportunities. One thing I do when faced with a setback is to take a step back and analyze the situation objectively. I ask myself questions such as: What went wrong? What could I have done differently? What can I learn from this experience? By reflecting on these questions, I can identify the root cause of the setback and develop a plan to prevent similar issues from happening in the future. Finally, I remind myself of the big picture and focus on the long-term vision for my business. It’s important to not let setbacks derail me from my goals and to stay motivated. – Kelly Kercher, K3 Technology
9. Maintain Perspective
Acknowledging the setback and keeping it in perspective is key to moving on. It’s not productive to dwell on what went wrong. Spending time figuring out how to correct the problem and making sure it does not recur is essential. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan
10. Take Full Responsibility
Taking full responsibility is effective because it helps me avoid blaming others or external factors for the setback. Instead, it allows me to focus on what I can do to improve the situation and move forward. I also reset my vision by revisiting my goals and objectives to move forward. This helps me stay focused on what’s important and avoid getting sidetracked by setbacks. – Renato Agrella, Acerca Consulting
11. Slow Down
Slowing down is the hardest thing for me to do. However, when you slow your roll, you are already head and shoulders above everyone else. Reacting instantly or reflexively rarely results in a good choice. Once I have slowed down, I examine the situation from every angle to determine where I could have done something differently. Where did I ignore my intuition or stray from a closely held value? Where did I presume I was the exception rather than the rule? Both of these are incredibly effective because they are things you can control. You can control how quickly or slowly you react to a situation (and often your pace will impact those around you) and you can control your accountability and what you learn from a setback. Otherwise, you’re just putting out fires. – Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media