How to Overcome Adversity in Your Business Venture

More than 20 percent of all new businesses fail within their first year. Although that is a grim statistic, it doesn’t have to be you. If you do your homework and carefully plan how you approach every aspect of your business, your chances of being successful are much higher.


The truth is that running a business is hard. It can be stressful, tiring and overwhelming at times. There is a lot to do and a lot to think about. However, adversity and struggle is part of the process, and if you accept that, you can use it to your advantage and learn from your mistakes and improve overall.

Don’t go into business convinced you will fail, but reasonably expect to experience some challenges along the way. Consider each bump a learning curve that is preparing you for the road ahead. With each issue you resolve, you add more knowledge and experience to your background and are better for it.

Successful People Who Failed Miserably and are Better For It

Most people we think of as successful have had a few stumbles along the way. People like Albert Einstein and Bill Gates experienced significant struggles and came out on top. Even Oprah Winfrey came from very troubled beginnings, and look at her today.


Before becoming a billionaire, Bill Gates started a small business with Paul Allen. The company failed miserably and what Gates took away from it were the lessons of what not to do next time. Albert Einstein couldn’t even qualify for college because his grades were so poor, now we recall him as one of the great minds of our time.


The story of James Dyson is inspiring. Before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum, he failed with 5,127 prototypes. How is that for perseverance? James didn’t give up; he just kept moving forward and learning from each iteration why it didn’t work. Now he is a billionaire running the top high-end vacuum company in the country.

Job Shadowing Can Help Avoid Failure

One of the best ways to prepare you before you start your new business, it to learn the ins and outs of it by job shadowing. Find other successful people in your area of business and attend meetings they go to, events, seminars and even ask if you can shadow them for a few days to dig in deep and learn what they do and how.


Job shadowing is not just for employees or interns; you can ask someone to mentor you and observe their activities throughout the day learning as you go. Take lots of notes or record things so you can study them later, with permission of course.


After shadowing someone for a few days, you will know pretty well whether or not it’s a good fit for you. Once you have become established in your own business, offer to allow a trainee to shadow you. Giving back will help you, as they ask questions, to look at things from a new perspective and improve your business even more.

Failure Can Actually Help You

Most of us want to avoid failure at all costs. A fact of life is that failure happens no matter how hard you work at trying to prevent it. Succeeding is great, but it doesn’t teach us the life lessons that adversity does. Failure contains a nugget of gold in the center: experience.


When you fail, you feel pain. That pain reminds you how you want to do something different in the future. Since you have failed, it is a great time to reflect on what happened and why. Often, great insight comes from pausing a minute to see things from a top-level view. If you are a fighter, then failure may motivate you to work harder, and stretch further to reach your goals.


As humans, we often fear the unknown. Once the worst that could happen does, you feel a bit lighter, a bit more room and some level of comfort. You have already failed, there is nowhere to go now but up. When you face fear head-on, you take away its power. Now, you can move forward without worrying about what might happen; you already know how to get through it.

Protecting Yourself Against Adversity

The most important thing you can do is prepare for adversity. It might be as small as losing a big client, but in business losing is part of the game and it will happen to you at some point. Don’t panic, take a deep breath and focus on the next action items to fix it or move on.


Another critical item to keep an eye one when you are in business is cash flow. At all times, you will want to know where the income is coming from and when. If you see any problems looming ahead, take swift action before it becomes a problem. If things get too tight, consider a partnership to take some of the load off you. Always keep your personal finances separate from the business. This division of assets protects you if anything goes wrong.


While you are working hard to keep your finger on the pulse of all critical areas of the business, don’t forget about your employees and customer relations. These are two additional areas that can make or break your business. Request feedback from both groups on what you are doing well and what needs improvement. Listen to the results and change accordingly. Many successful people consult those who came before them for advice.

Preparing for Success

Now that you know how to prepare yourself and use failure as a tool to improve your business, it’s time to prepare yourself for some success too. First, keep a close eye on your expenses and continuously look for ways to reduce overhead, without sacrificing service. The tighter your expenses are, the more profit in your pocket.


It’s not a bad idea to align yourself with investors. If you have a good product or service, you can market yourself to them and keep cash flowing healthily with an influx of investor money. Even if you don’t prepare them yourself, keep a good set of profit and loss statements updated at all times. You will need them for investors but also to see a snapshot of where you stand financially at any given moment.


Liberally rely on experts such as accountants to do your books, a lawyer to deal with any audits and IRS issues, and marketing firms to help promote your business. In areas where you do not have the time, nor the expertise, use outside sources to ensure things get done and are done right. You don’t want to leave anything to chance, and if you are unsure, ask for help.


Starting a new business is a gamble for sure, but if you view all the ups and downs as a learning journey, not the destination, you will do just fine and find your own success.


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