The Joy of Small Business Failures

Slips, hiccups, jitters... fancy words for one thing: Faceplants. I've made just about every mistake in business (and very publicly) which was NOT a lot of fun. I cannot explain how NOT fun it all was. But karma has a loooong memory and yours truly spent a lotttt of time drinking her own Kool-Aid in the early days so I certainly deserved what I got. It wasn't easy to admit that, but I did do my mea culpa time. Big time.

As exciting as the war stories are, especially for anyone who would've gotten a little high seeing me slip up, it's what you do with the failures that are more important. In this #tbt clip from a segment I did on Fox Business with Lauren Sanchez, I cover my little plan for recovery. And it's a plan I elaborated on when I was in Austin recently speaking to the ISES group.

Here's the Clip:

The key small business failures with takeaways are:

  1. Acknowledge the failure.
  2. Face it head on.
  3. Glean the message.
  4. Ask for help.
  5. Help others.

Well thanks, Mary Poppins. I've written about those 5 small business failures before and talked about them at recent events. While the list above might be the same, and yours will be slightly different because you should take mine and MAKE IT your own, in the Fox Business segment, it's the examples that Lauren and I go through that really teach the lessons. In fact, the segment was a good customer service reminder for me, even though I was the subject of the interview.

More Small Business Failures and Takeaways to Put Into Practice:

Usually when we make mistakes we keep making them over and over for awhile.

But why? That's the big question. Why do we keep stumbling on a particular issue? Do we continuously put ourselves in harm's way, trusting people we shouldn't? Jump in too fast without doing our due diligence? Net/net question to ask on this one: What could I have done differently to change those patterns? Hint: THEN DO IT NEXT TIME.

Big Take Away - Swallow your pride:

This is a big source of small business failures. Why? Because we stay too long, don't want to look stupid for closing a whole business or a segment to which we're attached. Even though this means we feel like a failure every time we have to look at anything to do with that business. Just makes you want to cringe. But swallow your pride, knowing that we ALL make huge mistakes all the time, but fail faster. Recognize where you blew it and just move on.

Other Small Business Failures Lessons?

Quit blaming everyone else.

Really. In my old days, I was so looking to point the finger at anyone with more mass density than a cloud that I rarely looked in the mirror. Oh, wait, I did blame it on the weather - we were slow last night in the restaurant because of the weather/fires/rain/holiday/month, etc. So even the clouds weren't safe. You will get SO much further if you just stop passing the buck. Put your big girl underpants on and handle it. You're the boss, you're in charge, you're responsible, whether your staff committed the egregious customer service error or not, the buck stops with you. Fix it.

And Here's One for Small Business Failures and Customer Service:

We all just want to be heard. As small business owners we have the benefit of being in charge AND being a customer for other businesses. At times, sure, customers aren't right, but there is a right, or better way to handle customer service when you're the boss. Take a deep breath and let the customer go OFF. It's ok. You don't have to huff and puff and get ready to cut them off. Even the biggest balloon runs out of air eventually. Put yourself in their shoes and just LISTEN. L-I-S-T-E-N. Even if you think most of what they said was malarky, glean the messages that ARE worth hearing.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the point of them ranting?
    • Do they want to be heard?
    • Have they tried and tried to get ahold of someone and we haven't responded?
    • Is it frustration?
    • Fear that we're not going to deliver?
    • Nerves that we're going to stiff them? Try and get to the root.
  • What will it take to fix the situation?
    • Do they want money?
    • Just to be heard and validated? (Sometimes that really is what it's about).
    • Can you even fix it? No matter what, some people will never be happy, but if you can turn them from mortal enemies who will shout from the rooftops about your horrible company, it is worth it to at least get them somewhat mollified.
  • Where did you blow it?
    • Come on, I know you're bugged and most of what the irate individual on the other line said was exaggerated, but what part did you play?
    • Could you have responded faster?
    • More kindly?
    • More thoroughly?
    • In a different manner altogether?

Growth happens when we stop and examine where we are, how we got there and where we want to go. Sometimes it brings us to the question of: How did I ever get HERE? It's not always a fun one to answer, because usually by the time you're asking that question, you're not a happy camper, but take a deep breath and write down the answers.

Small Business Failures Abound - Tell Us Your Favorite Trick:

Let us all learn from eachother's mistakes. Give us your tips, tricks, feedback and resources in the comments below. And if you like it, wouldja be a sweetheart and share this post?

xx - Marley

Oh, and here's the video, which was the point of this whole blog. Get over failure with my proven strategy on YouTube!

Sign up for FREE weekly small biz tips!

(All the tricks your competition DOESN'T want you to know about!)

Success! We're matched!