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Recovering from a Failed Business Attempt

You went into business for yourself with a big entrepreneur’s smile and a bigger entrepreneur’s plan. You had a better idea! It would make other’s lives easier and yourself richer than the Sultan of Brunei. When you threw open the front door (or launched the website), it was a given that people were going to show up. The only question was how many? Did you have enough product or enough bandwidth? After all, you wouldn’t want to run out of your great new idea.


Well, it didn’t work out at all the way you expected. Recovering from a failed business attempt can be crucial. You had plenty of bandwidth and ample inventory because not enough people showed up to grab a carload of your idea. It turned out that yours was one of the 50% of new entrepreneur’s businesses that failed between the fall of 2013, and a week ago today.

You are devastated and lost. Where do you go from here?

First of all, emotional healing is in order, and you need to find your best route to it. Each person has his/her specific needs here. For some folks, time spent with friends, family or a supportive group can be valuable. Others should take some time away from everyone to rediscover the fire within. Neither route is wrong, and both can be very helpful.

While you are healing, recall how Steve Jobs was summarily shown the door at Apple. He spent time wandering the back roads of Europe, trying to renew his motivation to continue on. Remembering Jobs might help you on your way.


Then, the post-mortem, when it’s important to spend time reviewing events that led to your initial failure as an entrepreneur. (We say “initial” because we know you will be back, even if you don’t know that yourself.)

There will be a few obvious factors that caused your business’ demise. Perhaps a client fell away. Maybe startup capital was insufficient. But, it is critical that you study contributing factors like, for example, the need to have more than one major client, and ample cash at the outset of the business. This inner dialogue helps you find peace while teaching lessons for building your next venture.

Because you may be too close to the problem, consider seeking outside advice. You could consult a mentor or perhaps a veteran entrepreneur who might provide additional guidance. Just as in the emotional healing piece, finding your best route to answers is an individual endeavor. Eventually, though, it is time to prepare for your next attempt.

After you’ve regained financial and emotional stability, you are ready for your next opportunity. After 2-4 months apart from your old business, you’re healthy enough to decide whether entrepreneurship or a more traditional career is the right move for you.

Whatever path you take, branch out! Attend networking events. Talk to other folks in your entrepreneurial industry. This leads to job opportunities, or investors and/or partners that can make your entrepreneurial business a winner.

Wherever life leads from here, don’t take the first business failure personally, and don’t allow it to define you. For many an entrepreneur, initial failure leads to success!