For more than two decades, the numbers surrounding the survival rate of small businesses have remained unfortunately consistent. Only 20 percent of all new businesses make it past their first year. After five years, 50 percent of new businesses no longer exist and only one-third are able to enjoy their 10-year anniversary.
As entrepreneurs tackle the legal formalities of assorting with a failed startup, including dissolving it with the state, they are also faced with the stigmas that surround what it feels like to have a business that failed. Getting back out there and trying all over again is really tough. It takes a lot of courage, confidence, and a solid strategy to get back on track — which, believe it or not, your unsuccessful startup has actually prepared you for.
If your first business wasn’t a success, here’s how you can bounce back using the lessons “failure” taught you.
1. See “failure” as a time to reflect
Use the moment you “failed” as a means to reflect and think about what happened. Where did you go wrong? Was it your approach? Did you underestimate your market? Did you spend too much or try to grow too quickly? Did you lack support or guidance? Track what you learned and look to mistakes made as valuable lessons for improvement with the next business. You might even find it cathartic to blog about your experience. Transparency matters to your customers and sharing an honest account of what went wrong helps paint you and your business in an authentic light with your audience.
2. Solicit feedback
One of the reasons why startups fail stems from a lack of feedback. Some entrepreneurs take their ideas and make them inaccessible to anyone else. Often times, the reasons for doing this range from fear the idea will be stolen by a competitor to striving for perfection in the hopes of catching an investor’s immediate attention. Now that the business is no more, use this time to ask partners, providers, and even employees for their feedback. Encourage them to be open with you on everything from how the business operated to the offerings themselves. Be honest with yourself in acknowledging what went wrong, especially if there are common issues coming up with those who worked alongside you.
3. Get strategic about venturing into a new business
You’ve already used your time to reflect on what wrong during the first go-around, now it’s time to avoid repeating the same problems from your prior failed startup. Keep the following areas in consideration.
- If you ran out of money… Place a stronger focus on ROI. Studies have shown that over half of businesses shutter because they are under-capitalized or lack a profit from the start.
- If your partners were not effective… Try to go it alone in your next venture. For a startup to succeed, its entire team from employees to partners needs to be fully invested in its future.
- If your investors went south… Opt for organic growth of a business. Start small so you don’t fail big and revel in knowing that without outside investors, your success will be your own.
4. Avoid the “get rich quick” approach
So, your business failed.
Chances are pretty high that you’re carrying some debt, like a small business loan, and are concerned about making the payments back quickly. If you place money first on your list of priorities, you’re likely to leap into a scheme where the only end goal is to make millions. Don’t do this. Your startup is your baby and one that you’ll be investing a lot of time and energy into, so make it a business that you’re excited about and that solves a problem your customers care about too.
5. Don’t hurry yourself if you’re not ready
In some respects, bouncing back into business can be a lot like dealing with a break-up and bouncing into the first relationship you find immediately afterwards. Not all of those relationships are successful because you haven’t been able to digest what happened and get your priorities back on track. Don’t hurry back into a new entrepreneurial venture because you’re worried about keeping up with an invisible timeline you’ve set for your life. You might find it’s helpful to take a break and use the time to clear your mind. Or, you might want to re-enter the corporate world as an employee for some extra inspiration.
The choice is all yours, but whatever you do, don’t feel compelled to rush into the next thing. Let your passion and motivation naturally propel you forward. If you pace yourself, get strategic on what to do next, and focus on your calling, the next business you start might just be the one you were meant to be a part of the whole time.