Gisela Wood, co founder of Momentum Property Education
When you’re an entrepreneur, every mistake feels personal. Lose your own money and it’s upsetting.
Lose someone else’s and it’s catastrophic. You might as well have a sign flashing ‘failure’ above your head. And that failure can seem insurmountable. But one of the hardest lessons to learn when you’re starting out in business is that setbacks always happen. And they can be a gift in disguise.
The voice of experience
In 2019, the co-owners of Momentum Property experienced spectacular loss. The business lost £400,000 of investor’s cash. Faced with the choice between giving up and seeking to redeem themselves – and their losses, Gisela Wood, Daniel Wood and Lukasz Brzyski chose the more difficult path, and began the gruelling climb back towards success. It was not an easy journey. But it did provide a veiled opportunity.
How to learn from failure
There’s a saying that goes: ‘the only way you can fail at failing, is to learn nothing from the failure.’ And when you hunker down and hide from your mistakes, that’s exactly what you end up doing. You learn nothing because you’re so bruised and embarrassed by the fall. So, you hide and hope that no one was watching. When the best way to recover – and to learn – is to look that failure square in the eye, and work out where you went wrong… And that’s the first step to recovering from a business failure.
Three important steps for recovering from business failure
Ask for help
When you start out in business you have this grand idea of going it alone. And sometimes it works. But even when you’re in a partnership, it can feel lonely. And it can be really hard. Because you can’t know everything. Sometimes, talking can bring the most incredible insights from the most unexpected sources. And it turns out that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness – as too many new entrepreneurs believe it to be. But, actually, a sign of really good sense. By seeking help when things first begin to go wrong, you can slow your descent, or even turn yourself around. And by seeking help and advice from every available avenue you can gain the insights you need to succeed.
As a startup, it’s common to feel the need to take a DIY approach to everything. It’s only your time that you’re using, so that’s obviously the cheapest option, right? But if it’s going to take you six months and all your spare time to build a substandard website, and another eight weeks to populate it, that’s a really poor ROI. Knowing when to spend money, where to invest your time, and when to outsource is a skill that can be really hard to grasp. But it’s one that pays in avoided mistakes.
Setbacks can floor you. And there are times when the only sensible option is to give up. You need to stop pursuing the pathways that are leading you to more debt, stress, and loss of control. But that doesn’t mean giving up on your ambitions. It just means acknowledging your mistakes. Most entrepreneurs have untapped depths. So, when things go wrong, take that week off. Indulge in whatever you need to do to find your motivation. Then start again. If you’re going to succeed, walking away simply isn’t an option.
Failing in business isn’t something that anyone aims for. But it’s something that most entrepreneurs will experience on one level or another. You may not crash as spectacularly as we did. But mistakes of all sizes are what shape us as people – and as people of business. It’s how we deal with those mistakes, and the lessons that we learn from them, that makes the difference between true success and failure.