Setbacks – whether they’re put there by someone else, something else, or ourselves, we’re all going to face them as entrepreneurs.
Given this truth, what are some things we can do when we experience them – ways we can become more resilient?
It’s a big question, with an even BIGGER answer, because what we do when we experience setbacks stems from what we think.
What we do stems from what we think.
And because we all think differently, it becomes very difficult to suggest what one might do when facing a setback without first discussing mindset.
Luckily, we’ve discussed quite a bit of mindset, so I urge you to take time out and identify with how you’re thinking to make sure it’s in line with how you want to be.
Tony Robbins says “Decision is the ultimate power.”
With this, the question of what we do then becomes an individual question of: What will you decide? or as I like to put it, what will you choose when faced with a setback?
How our thoughts shape our actions
One of the biggest setbacks I’ve experienced on my entrepreneurial journey came in February 2012.
I had launched my own business in late 2011 called Kate’s Copy, and I was struggling every single day – over four months later – to find anything to grab ahold of that would give me confirmation that what I was doing would eventually turn into something.
I was attending meet ups regularly to put myself in front of potential clients, and I was offering my services to a few individuals for free with the hope that I’d be able to use those early clients as case studies.
Being present on your journey
While this sort of makes it sound like I had a plan in place, I really had no idea what I was doing.
Instead, I was blindly following a checklist of what others said I was supposed to do without actually being present on my journey.
In my mind, I didn’t know much about pitching myself; therefore, any time I presented an offer to a client, they would surely turn it down; therefore, I wasn’t getting any clients.
I was letting setbacks like clients declining my offers, or me taking 5x the amount of time I had estimated to accomplish something, put me into a negative tailspin.
My mindset was a negative one, and therefore my decisions – what I choosing to do when faced with these setbacks – was only pushing me further from my goals.
It wasn’t until after I made the choice to shut down Kate’s Copy that I finally started to realize how many invaluable lessons I had learned over the six months I was “in business”.
The power of believing you will make it work
It started to become clear to me that the reason I chose to shut down Kate’s Copy was because I never truly believed myself that I could make it work.
Every thought in my mind pointed towards things like:
- All my time is going to things that don’t seem to be moving me forward;
- I don’t know enough about my industry to make this work;
- I’m not good at talking about my strengths, so I’m never going to be able to lock in a client;
- If only I knew more about creating a website and SEO, then I could attract more leads.
As a result, the actions I was taking were right in line with what I was thinking: not knowing what to do and not being good enough to make it work.
The blame game and taking responsibility
When I would come up against a setback it was easy for me to blame my lack of progress – and the fact that I didn’t have a functioning business – on resources.
Looking back, I should have been taking responsibility for the thoughts in my own mind.
Looking back, I should have been more resourceful.
At the end of the day, my lack of progress or the fact that I didn’t have a functioning business had nothing to do with a lack of resources. It had everything to do with the thoughts in my own mind and not being resourceful.
Resourceful: having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.
The question remains
So if our thoughts shape our actions, then the question still remains: what are some things we can do when we experience setbacks on our entrepreneurial journey?
First off, we can’t immediately let ourselves go into negative tailspin.
Setbacks and roadblocks are frustrating.
Given this truth, what we can choose to do when we encounter them?
This is going to seem like the simplest piece of advice ever, and that’s because it is – don’t overcomplicate solutions to problems: give yourself permission to express your emotions in whatever way is best for you, and then get back on track.
“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” ~ Woody Allen
Time is our most precious resource
We all claim that time is our most precious resource, yet we seem to be okay with wasting it on things out of our control.
The things that happen in our lives aren’t going to un-happen, so wouldn’t it be much more positive and productive to spend five minutes venting our frustrations, and then FOCUS on what matters most to us (achieving whatever it is we’re working on)?
Or, we could decide to spend hours – even days – allowing our emotions to choose for us.
I know which direction I’m going to choose, and I can tell you that since making a conscious decision to choose my direction and take full responsibility for that, I’m become happier, more productive, more resourceful and more resilient.
Practice, practice, practice
As with anything in life, becoming good at something takes practice.
Reading this post isn’t going to suddenly help you handle setbacks with ease and confidence.
But I hope that it will set the wheels in motion – that it will help you make a conscious choice about how you react to setbacks, and the actions you take next as a result.
Because only then can you begin to practice becoming better at it.
Maybe your next setback will take you 20 minutes to get over.
The next, 15 minutes.
The next, 10 minutes.
The next, 5 minutes.
Who can you turn to for support?
Where can you go to find a solution to the setback you’ve just encountered?
We need to practice resiliency as entrepreneurs, because the truth is: we will face setbacks on our journey.
Those who continue their journey are the ones willing to improve how to they choose to react and the actions they’ll take next.
Those who continue are the ones willing to be resourceful.
Stop standing in your own way
On your journey, you must stop and recognize when YOU are standing in your own way, because it turns out a majority of the setbacks we face and roadblocks we encounter are ones we’re creating ourselves.
Stop letting yourself be the reason you’re not creating the business you want.
“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” ~ Florence Nightingale
Up next in Season 4 on What it means to be an entrepreneur
Up next, we’re going to be talking about a new understanding of patience (because growing a business takes time)!
You can visit our home base right here to find all the posts and episodes in Season 4!