Sooner or later, every business has to deal with a bad situation that can have damaging effects on its growth and development. Whether it's leadership issues or losing a major client or facing a security breach, the key is knowing how to overcome these challenges and finding the silver lining in even the worst situations.
Below, these six entrepreneurs share some of the most devastating events they went through in their businesses that turned out to be a blessing in disguise and an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson.
Leadership Team Fallout
"My first attempt to bring in an experienced leadership team ended up in failure: we lost a lot of money, had people fighting with each other and ended up dissolving that leadership team only to end up more or less where we started," Yeti president Tony Scherba recounts.
Despite this major setback, Scherba did not give up. He learned from the experience and used the information to approach the situation differently. "In reapproaching, I've carried forward the lessons learned in this endeavor of taking the time to hire slowly, building executive relationships and managing expectations properly."
Growing Too Big, Too Fast
If you think there's no such thing as growing too fast for a business, think again. Growing too big, too fast was a real problem for Alphametic, as it reached critical mass in clients and services and was forced to hire too quickly without proper HR systems.
But with clients' ebb and flow, this growth soon incurred setbacks in funds, according to CEO Matthew Capala. "The silver lining came when the work was redistributed and we were able to redirect focus and build an incredible corporate culture," he explained. "Our culture now attracts clients and talent!"
A Client Not Paying Their Bill
Client-related problems can quickly become devastating for a business if not handled properly. This was the case with Marquet Media, LLC, which had to deal with a particularly difficult client in its early days. "We had one client that would pay bills 180 days late and then complain about every aspect of their campaign," founder and creative director Kristin Kimberly Marquet says.
After 240 days of not paying a final bill, the company decided to terminate the contract and turn the client over to collections so it could focus on other clients. "Despite the collection headaches, it was one of the best decisions we made," Marquet adds.
Getting Fired by a Long-Term Client
As difficult as some clients may be, losing a major customer can be quite a setback, especially for a company that mostly relies on regular, long-term clients for most of its revenue. "Losing a long-term client in 2019 really put our business behind the eight ball," Little Dragon Media founder Amine Rahal says.
It took the company six months to find a similar client that was both profitable and low maintenance enough to replace the loss, but this was a valuable experience, according to Rahal: "In hindsight, it's been a blessing that taught us lessons we can carry forward now."
A Security Breach
One of the worst nightmares for any company is having a security breach, but this too can prove to be a blessing in disguise if it will lead to better security policies and strategies in the future, says WPForms co-founder Jared Atchison.
"Before anyone knew what our company was, we had a tiny security breach on our website. Luckily, it was nothing major, but it taught me a huge lesson about cybersecurity and taking the proper steps to ensure customer confidentiality," Atchison adds.
Geographical Location and Bureaucracies
"My business is originally from Latin America, a very unstable area in socioeconomic terms and with constant crises affecting us," says Kevin Leyes, founder and CEO of Team Leyes, talking about how a challenging location with unfavorable laws can be damaging for an organization.
The key, according to Leyes, is turning the situation into an opportunity to become proactive and look to other regions for growth. "This gave me the opportunity to open my eyes and expand the company on an international level, meeting and connecting with many new people and partners," Leyes explains. "It is said that the lower you start, the more you value success and progress, and this is also a reality."