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.