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Turning a setback into a success

Behind every great business success there's often a tough learning curve and even failure along the way.

October 2019

One famous example of overcoming adversity in business is Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who was forced out of the company in the 1980s. In 1997, with Apple just months away from bankruptcy, Jobs returned.  By 2011 he had turned Apple into the biggest company on the planet and, in many ways, changed the world we live in. “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” said Jobs.

Closer to home, British entrepreneur Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes – and all his savings – before perfecting the vacuum cleaner that became an international best-seller. This year’s Sunday Times Rich List valued Sir James at £12.6 billion.

Stories of resilience
Though not always on quite the same scale, there are countless examples of setbacks or wrong turns made by successful smaller businesses – whether it’s expanding the business too quickly, failing to anticipate a sudden change in market conditions or being too busy with existing customers to build a pipeline of new business for quieter times.

Many of the businesses we’ve worked with over the years have had to grapple with issues such as over-reliance on a single client putting the business at risk when that client scaled back or went elsewhere, or an underperforming team member having a detrimental impact on overall business performance.

What marks out many of the most successful businesses is that, in most cases, they’ve recognised the problem and set about changing their approach or structure to tackle it. As a result, they’ve often emerged as stronger businesses through overcoming those difficulties.

This illustrates just how resilient and inspirational businesspeople can be when faced with adversity.

Essential mindset
The most successful business owners seem to have certain essential attitudes that can transcend failure. At one of our recent Godalming Business Clubs we discussed this very topic  and came to the following conclusions.

The more resilient business owners view failure as a necessary part of growth to create something new. They learn not to take failure personally and not to be held back by the fear of  failure.  In fact, they’re determined to learn the lessons from their mistakes, are honest with themselves and take responsibility for their choices rather than looking for someone else to  blame. Above all, they have the ability to stay calm and see the opportunities among the challenges. To help them with this, they often surround themselves with a team of people who inspire them, give them direct feedback and provide emotional support.

Find the right response
So, what can we learn from this?  Setbacks are part and parcel of business life, but if handled well they can help to build a stronger, fitter and more successful business. At Shipleys, we’ve helped many business owners rebound successfully from a challenge. Here are a few tips based on that experience:

Our business advisers are always happy to help.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, in relation to this summary, if you would like advice or further information, please speak to your usual Shipleys contact.

Copyright © Shipleys LLP 2019

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