Despite your most conscientious work and your best intentions, your business idea might flop. Of course, most entrepreneurs would rather anticipate success—but planning for the possibility of the ‘F’ word can help you turn a perceived failure into a temporary setback.
What percentage of new businesses is unsuccessful? According to the 2009 nationwide statistics from Industry Canada, 96 per cent of new businesses with less than 100 employees survive for at least one full year. Eighty-five per cent last for three years or longer, and 70 per cent are still around at the five-year mark.
Nevertheless, until there is a way to guarantee success for your new business, every entrepreneur should keep this in mind: your attempt to start a business may not work. The reasons may be out of your control; but what you do if faced with a “failure” is up to you.
If your idea bombs, begin by examining what went wrong. Was it a combination of factors, or one serious mistake? Should you have allowed yourself more preparation time before entering the market? Did you hire an untrustworthy right-hand employee? Did a similar business have better advertising? It may be difficult or even painful to appraise your mistakes (come on, at least a few of them were probably yours), but the sooner you do, the better you will be able to recall details which help you pinpoint what went wrong. Do another “examination” when a few months have passed and your perspective may have refined. The point here is not to beat yourself up—you probably did several things right, and you should remember those successful moves as well. The idea is to start seeing your business “failure” as a learning process right away so that next time, you will be better able to avoid the potholes you got caught in this time.
Begin thinking about your future sooner than later. To decide whether to try again, take a break, change direction, or close up shop for good, will pave the way for you to determine what to tell the public and what to do with your business assets. One acquaintance of mine who was unsuccessful as a singer now encourages and supports younger artists. A family friend started selling motorized window coverings with a buddy of his in 2008; their partnership dissolved when the recession started picking up speed, but he chose to stay on alone, and was still going strong in 2010. My aunt had to close her clothing store 13 years ago; today she is working full-time in the fashion industry and developing a new invention in sports, an entirely different field. Will these ventures be successful five years from now? Who knows? The important thing is that these entrepreneurs chose not to let their invested time and resources go to waste.
So if you stumble or fall, get up, dust yourself off, and get ready to face your next challenge. Only you can determine whether your so-called failure is an ending . . . or a brand new beginning.
D C Dolabaille