Recover from Entrepreneurial Failure: BREATHE.
I’ve been full-time as a solopreneur since 2009. I’ve launched many services, programs, and events. Some of them have been busts, getting few to no enrollments.
My first reactions to those experiences had been discouragement and slight depression. Many times I’ve been tempted to quit.
Some might be surprised that a business/marketing “expert” like me would still experience failures anymore.
Actually, the most experienced professionals often have more “failures” than the amateurs. Professionals are willing to keep trying new things, keep failing if need be, and keep extracting the lessons from “failures”.
Trying again and again, they get a little more knowledgeable with each experiment.
One of the most prolific and well-known business gurus, Seth Godin, has this to say:
“The rule is simple: The person who fails the most will win. If I fail more than you do, I will win…. So, if you fail cataclysmically and never play again, you only fail once. But if you are always out there putting your work into the world, creating and starting things, you will learn endless things. You will learn to see more accurately, you will learn the difference between a good idea and a bad idea and, most of all, you will keep producing.”
While I was in a state of discouragement, I asked myself:
“What would I say to a client who was experiencing this… and what therefore should I do to also recover?”
The word that came to me:
Intentional deep breathing is always a good reminder! However, I also got curious what else BREATHE could mean. In the next few days, what formed was a simple system bouncing back from setbacks.
It’s important to have a recovery process quickly available to you when you start to get discouraged. The next time you encounter a discouraging mistake or failure, try the BREATHE method. (You may want to bookmark this page to come back easily.)
B = Breathe
Take a few gentle, deep breaths.
Get some oxygen into your body and brain.
You’ll feel a bit better right away.
Such a simple and quick practice, yet it can shift the direction of your day.
R = Rest
When feeling discouraged, take a pause, rather than push.
Take a nap if you can :)
If you don’t feel you have the time, then just close your eyes for 2 minutes, continuing to take gentle, deep breaths.
Then do some kind of an Energy Reboot that works for you.
E = Extract the good
After you’ve rested a bit, ask yourself:
“What did I do well?”
No failure is ever 100%. There is always something you did well. Look for it. Name it! Please don’t take it for granted.
And is there any other good you can extract from this failure experience? What can you be grateful for?
When I was feeling discouraged from one of my (many) failed launches, I thought about the many people in my audience who also encounter discouraging launches in their businesses. If I only have success, I won’t be able to relate to my clients and students. I’m grateful to be reminded of this perspective.
In your case, what good can you extract from your failure experience?
A = Ask for guidance
If you believe that divine or higher guidance is available to you always, then ask in the way you know best: pray, journal, meditate, dance, go for a walk, etc.
Also consider asking for help from a trusted advisor, someone you can quickly reach out to from among your friends, family, colleagues, coaches, groups.
Message them and simply say… “I’m feeling discouraged… can I seek some guidance from you?”
Maybe message more than one person, so you can get a faster response and multiple perspectives and encouragement.
T = Trust
Come back to a deep knowing that all will work out beautifully for you. I believe it to be true. I hope you do as well.
Trust in the process of Life’s unfolding. It will work out for the highest good of you and everyone else. Yes, it’ll take time, but it is working itself out in a mysterious and necessary way.
Give thanks and trust in that Truth.
H = Help someone
When we turn our attention towards helping others, we simmer down the focus on our own negativity.
- Look at your calendar and see what appointments you have coming up. Take a moment and set an intention to be helpful in those appointments.
- Go into a Facebook group and be helpful there. Comment supportively on two threads.
- Reach out to a past client. Sincerely ask how they are doing. Perhaps share a helpful article or video with them.
- Reach out to a supporter, someone who has engaged positively on your social media posts. Thank them sincerely. Giving others true appreciation is so rarely done.
- Pray for someone’s well-being.
No matter how you do it, go and be helpful to someone. Get outside of your current focus on your problem. You’ll find an expanded perspective.
E = Experiment
By taking the above actions, you’ll recover your energy once again.
Now, it is time to get out there and experiment some more.
We enjoy successes, but we perhaps learn even more from failure. We develop in important ways: inner strength and wisdom.
If you aren’t failing, you probably aren’t trying enough new things to uncover your true potential.
So go for it: experiment with the next step, create the next thing, announce the next launch.
Know that no matter what, you can always come back and BREATHE.
Know that no matter what, you can always recover your perspective and joy!
(Originally written in 2017. Updated for 2022.)