In 2007, I had to make the decision that every business owner dreads: it was time to shutter my business. This was especially hard for me, as it was the first company that I'd started on my own. It was something I was so proud of; something that I got other people to believe and invest in.
At the time, I didn't have a backup plan. As an entrepreneur, you're told to go "all in" on your ideas, and not think about failure, only success. It was especially difficult, therefore, when it was time to admit defeat. I felt an intense depression, and it was only by following a strict routine that I brought myself back to normal.
Are you stuck without knowing what to do next? Here's a good place to start.
I always find it much more productive to think about the future than to ruminate on failure. At the time, I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do next, but my mind was always full of ideas.
Picture some new goal that you want to reach clearly in your mind-- you don't need to know how you'll attain it. Then, write it down clearly and give yourself something you can visually look at to remind yourself of your goal.
2. Do your own legwork.
With only the germ of an idea in mind, I wasn't going to waste any money or other resources. Instead, I did everything myself until I figured out if my next thing was going to work.
Make sure that when you are growing your business or working toward a goal, you are actively involved. Only delegate things that are nonessential, even if they are out of your skillset.
3. Keep moving forward.
There's a saying that for every "yes" you'll get 99 "no's"-- which adds up quickly to a lot of wasted time and can be emotionally draining. When asking for favors from people, try asking a few people at a time rather than all at once. That way, you can get lots of feedback on what you're doing right and wrong to get you closer to a 'yes.'
4. Be vulnerable.
While figuring out the next thing, rather than closing myself off because of past failure, I decided to publicly own up to my mistakes. I started talking and writing about the things I'd been through.
While it can be difficult to draw boundaries while being transparent, lean on your intuition and experience to tell you when you should hold back.
5. Have a sense of humor.
One of the best things I did was turned my failure into a pseudo-comedy routine that I shared at an event. By laughing and joking about it, I was able to move on-- and be instructive as well.
Business ownership is a major stressor, often accompanied by financial hardship, family dysfunction and strain on your professional reputation. Instead of feeling ashamed and hiding situations like company failures and bankruptcies, sharing them with your support network can lift your spirits and help you move forward faster.
By heeding these five things, you're already well on your way to long-term success.