Common setbacks in small business (and how to avoid them)

By Julia Keady

Experiencing failure and disappointments when running a business is par for the course. Whether it's a poor return on a marketing investment, a partnership explosion or a financial hurdle, setbacks are inevitable. But they can also provide some of the biggest and best personal and professional breakthroughs, if you allow them.

Avoiding business setbacks is like trying to avoid life's ups and downs - somewhat impossible. Most setbacks can be minimised with due diligence, foresight and creativity. Try these tips for starters.

1. Do your research

Whether it's a new contract with a large client or a partnership with an overseas distributor, take your time to ensure big decisions are well researched and considered.

2. Seek a second opinion

Allow yourself to be guided by others who may have taken that course before, whether it's your accountant, your partner, an industry colleague or others who may know about trends and forecasts that might affect your decisions.

3. Listen to your gut

Intuition is a gift we all possess, one that some people hone and others ignore. It's that sinking feeling when something 'smells off' or that tingle of excitement when something feels right. Often it's worth looking at all the information then checking in with your instincts. What are they telling you? Take it from the wise owl Albert Einstein, who once said that the "intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant".

4. Plan for success

Curve balls can be reduced if you are working with a strategy. It sounds overly simple, but it's frightening how many businesses just wing it across different parts of their activities, be it business development, sales targets or employee retention. If you need to win $50,000 of new business in the next financial year to be profitable, then you'd best have a plan to avoid the alternative!

5. Have something in the tank

Often setbacks hit us harder when we are physically or emotionally exhausted, financially struggling or experiencing hardship on the home front. When you can, take time out to restore equilibrium. A perfect work-life balance is challenging in business, but taking stock to ensure there are reserves in the tank will serve you well if challenges arise on the business front (and they will).

Ultimately, it's how you respond to adversity that will set you apart as a leader.

What's something you have learnt about dealing with setbacks that could help others?


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