Being a business owner means getting comfortable with things not working, going the way we want, or failing.
At first, it’s scary and brings up a lot of doubts and fear. That’s normal; we live in a world that teaches us that you either succeed or fail. There’s no in-between.
In business, that’s not true, though, not even close.
There are really only two ways to truly fail. One, to fail and then quit, and two, to fail and not learn anything. Everything else is just a road bump, a lesson, and an opportunity to improve next time.
Successful business owners endure the setbacks and keep pushing forward because they realize business is not a game to win or lose but a journey of continuous improvement.
So what do you do when failure strikes?
The worst thing you can do is to pick up and move on as nothing happened. But this is what most business owners want to do because it’s not fun facing failure.
What you should do is analyze.
You’ve got to pick apart everything that happened and figure out what went wrong and where.
Let’s say you launched a promotion that flopped.
The first thing you’d do is make sure all the technical parts were working. Did the ads get shown to the right people? Did your emails get delivered? Was the form working for people to put their information in?
(Tech breaking happens more often than people think, so don’t skip this.)
Next, you’d want to make sure that your audience wanted the promotion. Did you survey them and figure out their biggest problem? Does the promotion/offer solve that problem?
The offer is often where most people miss the mark. Many business owners forget that their primary purpose in business is solving their patients’ most significant problems.
If you didn’t before, talk to your audience and ask them what their biggest problem is. In-person or over the phone is best, so you can have a conversation and dig in deeper. At the very least, you should be sending an email or a text.
If everything looks good there, the final thing is to make sure your promotion and offer are clear. If your audience can’t immediately see the benefit of saying yes right now, then it’s not clear enough.
As business owners, we can be too close to our products and services sometimes. We may know all of the benefits and how they will change people’s lives, but the majority of the population probably has no idea.
(This can be true even if they’ve been in your sphere of influence for a while.)
Having a conversation with your audience is the quickest and easiest way to figure this out. This could also save your promotion. Understanding where you weren’t clear enough and clarifying things can often get a few people to say yes when they initially said no.
Once you’ve done this work and figured out all the places you went wrong, it’s time for the most critical part.
And repeat the above post-analysis each time and keep improving.
This framework can work with any problem in your business. You just need to spend some dedicated time thinking about it. This is also where having a community of other business owners is incredibly helpful.
More than likely, someone else has faced this problem and can share how they solved it. Another good practice is a pre-implementation analysis, where you look at everything that could go wrong ahead of time. Having other business owners help point out holes can be invaluable.
While it can be a bit hard on the ego at first, it gets better over time as you start to realize that failing forward is how you win the game.
The most important thing, don’t quit and always take the time to analyze and learn. Those are the only ways you can truly fail. Everything else is just a lesson learned and one step closer to more success.
-Jason Duprat, MBA, MSA, APRN, CRNA