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4 Ways to Get Back Up After Miserable Business Failure Knocks You Out Cold
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Have you ever felt like you would never, ever, ever succeed?

Sure, you get the occasional pat on the back from your boss, or a colleague congratulates you for a job well done, but have you ever tried failing so bad that you thought no one could do worse?

Your retail store isn’t selling as much as you would want. You only get 20 people in the entire world to buy your new book. In fact, you’ve been working so hard day and night, churning out great content every time,  but you’ve recently noticed that no one is actually reading your blog. And that’s when you feel it.

You feel that you’ve somehow become part of the world of small business failure.

You didn’t do well way back in school, and now things are coming full circle. Everything that you’ve done for your business is going wrong.

You’re afraid to look at your family and friends in the eye, and admit that you’re a loser.

When people think of entrepreneurs, business owners and the like, they instinctively think of people driving a BMW, living in a cozy mansion with a perfect family and a couple of German Shepherd Dogs.

Then they look at you, and all they see is a business failure. How do you get back up after that?

Wile E. Coyote’s Obsession

If you remember the old Looney Toons character that often spends every waking hour of his days chasing down a speeding Road Runner, you’ll know who I’m talking about.

The coyote endlessly hunts down the Road Runner using every means possible, often resorting to wild contraptions from a mail-order company called Acme Corporation. The problem is, he fails every single time. In fact, he fails so miserably that you sometimes feel sorry for the poor guy.

Every entrepreneur experiences ups and downs. At the beginning of their journey, they feel it hit them the strongest.

You’ll notice that you’re endlessly writing great content, even going to lengths as to research your topic for hours and hours. But then at the end of every day you’ll notice that no one really comments on your blog. You have some traffic, but they only spend a few minutes on your site.

When you’re running a business, you don’t always get the results that you were expecting. No matter how much effort your put into your business, you’re bound to face reality that people just might not like your product.

But if we could learn something from watching The Coyote’s seemingly endless obsession with catching the Road Runner, it’s to always get back up on your feet and try again.

How to get back up after failing miserably

Business Failure is part of the journey. What we can do is just to adapt to what’s just happened, and move on.

But moving  on isn’t always about quitting.  If you truly believe in your  purpose, then you’ll fight for it. You’ll fight to survive.

Sounds easy, huh? It’s definitely not, I tell you. But if you want to get back up and fight for your brand, here’s what you can do.

1. Stomach it. The Coyote doesn’t whine, cry or give up. He realizes his failure, decides to get back to work, orders another contraption from Acme, and give it another try.

When you encounter a problem, be it a failed product launch, low traffic to your website, running out of ideas to market your business or not making enough sales, the first step to get back on track is to realize your failure, stomach it and trudge forward. Giving up will lead you nowhere.

2. Keep your goals in mind. Even after several attempts that only end up in failure, the Coyote doesn’t forget what he’s supposed to do, which is to catch that infernal Road Runner.

  • What are your goals with your business?
  • Are you planning to sell a revolutionary product or a service?
  • Do you want to get heard so you could finally get your career as a fitness coach started?
  • How much does this really mean to you?
  • Is there a market for what you’re doing?

Whatever your goals may be, always get your head in the game. It’s a tough journey, but the adventure is worth it. The rewards are just the bonus.

3. Split-testing and Research. The coyote never uses the same contraption twice. Once he realizes that the device doesn’t work, and only backfires at him and causing him pain (which doesn’t exist in cartoons), he orders a new device and tries to get it to work.

This is where actual research comes into play. What do your customers say about your product? Do they think that you’re offering them mediocre service? Finding out which works (and which doesn’t work) for your business is the key to finding success in the future.

Here are some things that you can do that don’t involve split-test software:

  • Take some time to call people personally and ask them for opinions about your product, or your business as a whole.
  • If you have a mailing list, you can use that to ask for their opinions. Everyone uses email.
  • Surveys have been around since forever, but it’s still one of the best ways to find out what people think.
  • Use sock puppet accounts to ask for honest feedback on social media and forums (actually did this on an old forum where I was one of the administrators).

4. Be open to new ideas. When you find that a certain strategy worked, even though you don’t like the method, try and use that. Don’t be stubborn.

  • Video marketing is getting bigger. This is another great way to attract people, specifically those who prefer not to read huge blocks of text (like this post, hah). It’s relatively easy, and there are a lot of free recording tools out there, like Jing. Chris Brogan, Danny Iny and Jon Morrow love using videos. Videos are easily shared and consumed. The easier it is for people to get your content, people will come back for more.
  • Feeling a little camera shy? You can try podcasts or radio shows. People get to hear your sexy voice, and they don’t need to see your bad haircut. It’s also easy to share and consume compared to text. Copyblogger has their radio show, and so does Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living.
  • Provide something extra for people who opt to do business with you. Some opt for discounts on their services, others do referral bonuses or free ebooks/reports.
  • Get into social media. A lot of people will say social media is a waste of time, but there are also others who say it’s crucial for business. Either way, social media can be a great tool to communicate with people who are just “on the fence” when it comes to buying from you.

Don’t settle for doing what you are comfortable with, but doing what’s interesting and helpful for your target customers.

Bonus tip: Ask for help. One thing that the Coyote never did, despite failing miserably dozens of times, was that he never asked anyone for help. He didn’t use his own cunning and speed to try and catch the Road Runner because he knew his target was just too fast. So he sought refuge in using contraptions that he believed would one day help him get his prey. But he was never successful (except for one time, but the Road Runner was too big for him to eat).

When you’re having trouble with your business, whether it be lack of traffic to your site, not getting enough sales, or getting hate mail from dissatisfied customers, you can always try to reach out and ask for help from other people who have experience in running a business. They’re always willing to help out someone in need, especially if you’re determined enough.

  • Blogs on Marketing - There are a lot of them on the Internet. Firepole Marketing is one of them. I’m pretty sure Danny has at least 30 things he can tell you.
  • Local businesses - It’s difficult to get tips from the big businesses. The smaller ones that are going strong is where you need to go. Ask the owner(s) how they started, what they had to do to get people to buy from them, how they handled bad publicity, and just about anything that pops in your head.

It’s hard to run a business alone. Networking, marketing, community and knowing the right people are the keys to success. But if what comes your way is business failure, you need to learn how to get back up and start fighting for your place in the world.

Josh Sarz is a Freelance Writer, Blogger and the founder of Sagoyism.com, which talks about Epic Content Marketing, Storytelling and World Domination. He also likes punk rock and metal, among other things. Read more of his crazy, creative ramblings like the 3 Main Acts of a Blog Post.

32 Comments

  1. Great article Josh,

    There is this fine line with failure. Do you change what you once believed to be the solution? Or do you stay the course and hope time and effort eventually gets you to the finish line?

    The answer is TESTING…

    If you are testing the entire time and can wrap your brain around the WHY of the fail then how you re-start becomes much easier.

    Failure is a great topic!

    Ryan H.

  2. These are all great tips. The biggest one is never give up. No one thought the Wright brothers would ever fly.
    And remember all of these statements?
    “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” – Decca Records executives rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
    “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.” – The President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.

    “I would say that this does not belong to the art which I am in the habit of considering music.” – Alexandre Oulibicheff, reviewing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

    It’s OK to change your plan but I always remember people may not understand your vision – it wasn’t given to them it’s YOUR vision. And quite frankly a majority of the time people don’t have a clue what they are talking about- DON’T GIVE UP.

  3. Tom Treanor says:

    Josh, these are great points. This is the kind of post that’s worth printing or saving somewhere to go back to when you’ve just had a let-down with your business.

    I think the goals are so important (#2). They allow us to adjust and try different things in order to achieve that end purpose. Without good goals we’re just doing tactics that don’t tie together.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. Davin Ogden - Affiliate Actuator says:

    An excellent post Josh. I think it’s fair to say that everybody has had some major disasters when trying to get the whole business thing going, whether online or off.

    You bring some great tips here for people to follow..

    One of the sayings I always think about when I’m down if something isn’t working out as planned is..
    “It doesn’t matter if you get knocked down, what matters is, what you do after you get back up!”

    It may sound a little cliche, but, it comes to mind during those times for me, and helps..for sure.

  5. Thanks Josh. Great stuff. Except, not sure on your suggestion for sock puppet accounts. Sounds like a recipe for pr problems in this day and age of transparency? Otherwise, love the post. Thanks for sharing your wisdom… :-) Eric

  6. Dan Lew says:

    This is totally a nice stuff you got here man. Even if a business really failed, don’t just “fail” yourself totally. Just try to stand up and do something to get back your business and make it even more profitable. In other words, “NEVER GIVE UP!”

    Dan Lew

  7. Jane says:

    Split testing is always a winner in my book. You never know what you’ll learn every time; I always got a thing or two to learn every time!

  8. Josh Sarz says:

    Never give up. Never surrender.

  9. Josh, woo! Great post.

    This goes hand in hand with my post for Firepole, “8 Failed Businesses In 6 Years” – I’m a living example of what you’ve recommended here.

    http://www.firepolemarketing.com/blog/2011/12/13/8-failed-businesses-in-6-years/

    It also taught me that I love maximizing my chances of success, teaching success, focusing on success, leveraging failure into success, and overall sexy success.

    I really wish I’d done more testing during my failures, but it’s never too late to start :)

  10. Great article Josh, it can be so demeaning to fail in business and hard not to take as a personal failure. Too many knock backs are hard to take.

    I agree with your statement that “failure is part of the journey”. If everything was easy and rosy all the time we wouldn’t appreciate what we have, and we wouldn’t grow as humans. Sometimes we feel we get more than our fair share of setbacks though! I’ve had loads of challenges to my online businesses recently, which almost made me want to give up (see my post about losing my laptop and 13 of my 18 websites due to hacking.

    Thanks for sharing your strategies for picking yourself up and keeping going. Keeping focussed on the rewards of achieving your goals is a powerful one.

  11. Missy says:

    Hi, Josh:

    Congrats on the article and good luck in the contest. On number 3, how does one go about polling and or asking readers – if they’re kind of silent readers and you don’t have a mailing list?

    I have been blogging for quite a while and have had my blog (linked above) for a few years, but never bothered to do email marketing (a colossal mistake) and or I didn’t do it right.

    Your tips and ideas are appreciated – on garnering new feedback from an old site.

    Cheers!

  12. Matt says:

    I have had several failures in business but that is how you learn to better yourself. It is impossible to avoid mistakes, but how we learn from them that is important.

    Good Luck in the future

  13. Thuvy says:

    Thank you Josh,
    came at a perfect time.

  14. Ashvini says:

    HI Josh,

    Very nice story. I am a fan of the cartoon series and I agree with all your points . There is a severe disconnect between the entrepreneur and most of the people connected to him/her. It is “money”. For the entrepreneur money is just a means to the end, to achieve professional satisfaction while for people connected to him, money is everything. I am sure nowhere in the world entrepreneur (except a very few) get money and fame instantly. They have to work thru the obstacles to be where they are today.
    I think the entrepreneur really needs to understand that his goals and those of people who are connected with him will not match for a long time and prepare for it.
    As you rightly said , you need to open to new things. Flexibility is the most important criteria for staying in for long and winning.
    Thanks for such an awesome article.

  15. kayus says:

    This is really motivational.i have been there even till this moment.I almost gave up on blogging and informational marketing until like the coyote,i decide to forge on due to motivation i get from post such as this.

  16. amy swanson says:

    Great stuff here, Josh!

    It’s amazing how many times entrepreneurs can be told to ‘hang in there’ and things will get better, but when we’re knocked out we instantly forget that advice. I also feel that I should print this awesome post out for when it feels like nothing I’m doing is right. Thanks!

  17. Amy Turner says:

    What is important is whether you have the strength of will to come back after you have sunk to the bottom of despair. I know this happens to some business owners mostly during economic downfall. For me, it takes a lot of soul searching and gearing up before I can totally move on. And yes, moving on can either be to continue fighting for the company or just call it quits.

  18. Linkswitch #97, Analytic Tricks, Fun Website Design, Your Path says:

    [...] 4 Ways to Get Back Up After Miserable Business Failure Knocks You Out Cold [...]

  19. Lynn Wallace says:

    My business has been slow, but I’m determined to never give up. I like an old song by Fanny Crosby, “Never Give Up.” It has encouraged me to keep going. I’ve started asking for opinions about my book, received some, and 5 great book reviews. I’ve been on 3radio interviews, and made several speeches. I’m starting to make some comments. I need lots of help. I’m not sure if Danny’s scavenger hunt will work since I don’t have Google Chrome, but I’ve gone through my promotional materials from various places and am encouraged.
    That sock thing sounds deceptive and I trust in my God and Saviour. Thanks for the input and I do need lots of help.

  20. […] Remember you are your first reader. When you start going places with your blog and business that you don’t resonate with – when you don’t have the feeling that your audience is a reflection of yourself – the very best that will happen is that you’ll burn out and lose interest. The worst that could happen is absolute business failure. […]

  21. […] Truthfully, most of the people that start a new business will experience business failure. […]

  22. […] enough attention is given to business failure – the process of trying something, not succeeding, learning from the experience and building […]

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