The entrepreneurial life isn’t a smooth-sailing course. In fact, you’ll experience not just bumps along the way, but sometimes major setbacks. Obstacles that are so overwhelming that it can feel like you’re on the edge of failure. A lot of these setbacks may be out of your control, like economic turmoil or bankrupt clients. There are also those that are the result of your control, more specifically, misguided control like poor financial management or oversight in your operations. Either way, these can cause you to get stuck. You may not know what to do, or you fear that what you’ll do will make the situation worse. But, at the same time, you know that not doing anything won’t solve it. If you’re in this dilemma, here are the proactive steps you can take to address the problem:
Seek advice from others.
Not just any other person, but someone who either has full knowledge of the situation or has a similar experience as you. If that person has both, better. In the case of startups, go to your investors. For franchise ventures, franchisees can turn to their parent company or co-franchisees for that sound business advice. It’s important that you do this step because, at the point of realizing you’re in the middle of a business dilemma, the problem may rattle you and affect your judgment of things. Decisions made out of emotions are the last thing you need at this point. Keep a level head and remember your goal in consulting business coaches: to analyze the situation you’re in and brainstorm options for moving forward. Not to wallow in the dilemma you’re in. Meetings, if unchecked, can quickly slide into a pity party.
Ask yourself the hard questions.
As you talk to advisers and unpack the dilemma you’re in, you need to raise things that you wouldn’t normally bring up in a typical meeting. For instance, if you lost your biggest client, is it possible to cut down on spending and borrow money for the next months until you’re able to recover? Should you create a more robust team for business development? If you’re going through an economic turmoil, do you have to downsize? Would it be wise to lay off people?
You should also ask tough personal questions: Do you still believe in your business? Is your vision still alive, or is it time to start over? As much as setbacks are painful, there’s a positive side of it: this forces you to go back to your purpose and passions. Although you may feel crushed and hopeless, don’t lose this good opportunity to reflect on what you want to do.
Commit to your action plan.
Once you’ve done a thorough examination of your problem and planned your next steps, dedicate all your thought and energy to that strategy. You’ll be tempted to look back again and lament at how you could have prevented this dilemma, but there’s no use in crying over spilt milk. Focus on the task before you. At the same time, your entire team should also be on board. If you decide to keep your restaurant or your office franchise despite the economic conditions or operations flaws, that means empowering your staff and making the necessary changes to achieve efficiency and better productivity. If you choose to leave your venture, then take with you the lessons you picked up from this experience.
Major setbacks in the business mark defining crossroads for entrepreneurs. Refuse to get paralyzed by your problem, rather, make every effort to be proactive about it. Remember these steps as you navigate this tricky, complex situation.