We all experience setbacks.
In life. In business. In general.
Not everything always goes to plan.
And that’s not always a bad thing.
These setbacks can actually become opportunities.
These so-called “setbacks” teach us about resilience, problem-solving, and prioritization — especially when building our dreams as entrepreneurs.
You’re Cutting Me Out of the Business?
Last year — out of the blue (for me, anyway) — I had a disagreement with a business partner. We had a call the day before, as usual, and everything was normal. However, our disagreement became emotional. And he disclosed that he had been taking steps to move the business to an LLC I was not an owner in.
Cutting me out.
My hands were tied. I had no real choice but to accept a low-ball buyout offer for my stake in the business. It wasn’t worth getting lawyers involved from a time or expense perspective.
I felt cheated.
I felt hurt.
I felt confused.
But most of all, I felt frustrated.
I’m normally calm and motivated. I’m the type of person who’s always found it easy to move on from things. But not this. This situation was frustrating.
Instead of allowing it to get to me, I committed to growing from the experience. This was the only way I could process and move on. I knew that if I could turn this negative situation into something positive, I would grow as a person and entrepreneur.
I needed some help — some tools to help navigate the situation.
I couldn’t let this experience hang over me.
The Magic Eraser
I listened to an audiobook recently called Awareness by Anthony De Mello. De Mello is a Jesuit priest, teacher, and author who was born in Mumbai in 1931. He combines eastern and western spirituality to attain and demonstrate a unique perspective on life.
This book resonated with me. It completely reframed how I felt about the situation.
In the book, De Mello asks you to imagine that you have a magic eraser. One that can erase any experience from your history.
And ‘poof!’ Just like that, the experience is gone.
The magical eraser would also erase everything that happened as a result of that experience. Along with its effect on your life. Permanently.
Think about something that you’d rather forget (sorry). If you had this magic eraser and could remove this experience and its circumstances from existence…would you use it?
This got me thinking about my own situation. Although it had been difficult, frustrating, and disappointing — it also led to significant personal growth and positive changes in my life.
This experience allowed me to open up my time to other business opportunities and allocate my attention to better ones. I’m now having a more significant impact, my earnings potential is higher, and I’m managing my time better. Not to mention, it’s led to better communication with my other business partners.
The business I parted ways with was generating me the least income out of all of the businesses in my portfolio. It was the furthest from hitting seven figures. I realized it didn’t exist in the same space as the other areas I focus on.
I’m able to work better as a result of not having that business in my portfolio. I’m now in a different headspace, and I’m thankful for that.
With hindsight, I think that my former business partner was finding certain things challenging, which he never communicated. As a result, it led to problems for us both.
The short takeaway from this is: no, I wouldn’t use that magic eraser. And, if you experienced growth from your experiences, neither should you.
Think about that negative experience you identified again. Now think about all you’ve achieved, learned, and moved forward with as a result.
As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial to treat setbacks as just that; temporary setbacks. No situation is permanent, and this negative chapter will pass.
Building Resilience and Moving On
So, what should you do if you’re experiencing a situation which — as you’re going through it — you think you would use that magic eraser? Here are some tips to become more resilient and move on without regret:
Take a step back and review the situation
What are the positives coming from these negatives? Are there any opportunities that can come of this? Even if it’s “just” freeing up more time or finances, think how this will impact you in the short- and long-term. Some entrepreneurs even keep a log of mistakes, allowing them to transform their setbacks and solutions into KPI’s. I didn’t go that formal, but I can see how it would work, especially to build resilience.
Problems? Solve ‘em
Making decisions — going through the choices and using options to solve issues — is part of running a business. Ignoring a problem — however small — won’t make it go away. Avoid “busywork” to remove focus from your problems. Instead, focus on coming up with solutions that promote growth. Staying strong in the face of adversity is a big part of resilience.
Focus on your goals
It’s easy to get distracted by the day-to-day — to forget why you’re doing what you do and where you want to be. Keeping your goals in mind is an effective way to keep things in perspective and handle the tough stuff effectively. Being able to stay motivated by your goals, especially when it’s most challenging, is an important part of being resilient.
Know when to tap out
Sometimes, the most resilient thing you can do is move on and know that it’s the right thing to do.
Ever heard of the “sunk cost fallacy?” This is where we feel that because we have time/money/effort invested we have to keep going. Even if it’s going in a bad direction. Now, this doesn’t always make sense as an entrepreneur — you’ve already spent that time/money/effort and it’s gone, regardless of whether you cut your losses or carry on. If you’re on the wrong path, sometimes, the best thing to do for everyone is to stop and move on to something better aligned with your goals, skills, experience, financial capacity, etc.
Get some external perspective
Whether it’s advice from a mentor, reading or listening to something inspirational (Awareness by Anthony De Mello was the one that did it for me), or even talking it through with a wise, trusted friend. Sometimes, it’s easy to spiral into overthinking a situation, even if it isn’t really that bad in the grand scheme of things.
Back to the Beginning
I’ve now been able to move on and progress to new, more exciting, and more profitable opportunities. If you’re finding it challenging to build resilience as an entrepreneur, please be assured that it will pass.
What you perceive as a “setback” may actually be the “push-forward” you need — for so many reasons.
Resilience is essential. Being consumed by your problems and losing focus is not.
Keep pushing on in the face of adversity and hardship, and continue building your resilience.