Not every venture is destined for success—and that’s not a bad thing. Failure helps us understand that there are other ways to achieve what we want. It gives us a new perspective and lets us try new ideas. But it’s important to make sure that you don’t let failure derail you. Bounce back hard and fast to move on to your next great idea.
Zero In on the Problem
Failures happen for a reason, and knowing why they do can help you succeed in the future. Each situation is different, and knowing whether the idea, the marketing, the staff, or the location of the business was what caused the failure is essential. To determine exactly what happened, start by making a list of the steps you took to make your business work and compare them against a list of things that went wrong. See whether your actions intersect with the problems and decide what you could or should have done differently.
If your business failed because you didn’t get funding, you know that you have to have a better plan in place for finding the money on your next venture. Failures due to scaling show that you need a better balance between what your startup can manage and the size of your business. For every problem, you can find a solution and use it to propel yourself forward.
Re-Target Your Market
Sometimes an idea is good, but the market is bad. If you’re confident in your idea, consider changing your approach at marketing it by looking at the people you targeted. There are several ways to find out who your potential clients are and what they like. One that you might not have considered is called sentiment analysis. It can tell you how people feel about a product, company, event, or idea. It can also show you how customers compare products, how they view competitors, or other useful information. It uses technology like text analysis, biometrics and natural language processing to extract information so that you can find out more about your market. Once you know, you can target accordingly.
To see an example of sentiment analysis and data visualization, look at Trump Today, a news site for information about Donald Trump. The site shows the opinions of people on social media about hot topics related to President Trump. For example, the topic G-20 is displayed with a sentiment rank of 6 and a green smiley face. People on social media felt relatively positive about the G-20 summit. Moscow, on the other hand, has a sentiment rank of -3, which means people felt negative about news related to the Kremlin.
Don’t take too much time off after you’ve had a bad turn. When you do, you risk never getting back on the horse and moving on to your next successful idea. Keep doing work in your niche and eventually you’ll think of something new to try. It’s fine to take a break, but don’t let your vacation become a lifestyle. When you do, you risk never getting back to your venture. It’s important to maintain your forward momentum. Definitely grieve the failure, but decide up front how much time you’re going to devote to that process. When you hit your limit, move on and start fresh.
For example, when Rob Kramer tried to make his website PopRule into a success and failed, he continued doing contract work with his business partner. It kept him afloat and engaged in business for more than a year while he waited to come up with and develop a new idea. His new venture, HipSwap, had more than $1.1 million in seed funding.
Try New Ideas
As long as you’re taking a step back, take a look at some new ideas you can use to make your business a success. For example, step into targeted marketing on social media. Consider taking a seminar on customer engagement. Learn about leveraging YouTube channels to get new customers interested in your business. Even if the things you learn aren’t applicable to your last idea, you never know where the next will come from, or what you’ll need to be successful.
Consider Brian McClendon, who moved away from California and to Kansas, looking to spur tech growth in the Midwest. It’s a risk, but it’s a calculated one designed to help startups flourish in an area that needs the jobs those startups could bring. While many tech startups gravitate toward booming coastal cities, McClendon is willing to try something new and explore the benefits of investing elsewhere.
When you try new things, you build a better base of skills and competencies that will have a positive effect on any new businesses or ventures you launch. Stagnation will stop you from any meaningful advancement. With a little space from the failure, you may see the time as a boon because it will let you innovate. If you have employees, encourage them to come to you with new ideas that can benefit the company as well. It helps keep everyone engaged and active in moving the business forward.
Look for New Avenues for Money
Funding can be the difference between success and failure. When you’re ready to bounce back with a new idea, make sure you have more than enough, if possible. Look for new sources for funding from outside investors if it will help you launch your next idea in a way that works. You can also find partners who provide money, connections, and experience to help you get your idea off the ground.
Take Richard Moross, for example. He launched a business card company that failed after it outspent more than $150,000 in seed money. In retrospect, Moross felt that the reasons for failure were the company’s name, the concept itself being unrefined, and the non-targeted marketing. After that business failed, he met with Flickr, which had been acquired by Yahoo. He pitched the idea of allowing members to create customized cards with pictures on them, and the company accepted the partnership. His new business, MOO.com, worked under a partnership model until they transitioned to a direct sales model after seeing what customers preferred. Eight years later, MOO.com made more than 12 million dollars per year.
The path to success is not a straightforward one. Don’t be surprised when you stumble as your business grows—new ventures will pay off at times and fail to do so at others. Many successful entrepreneurs have faced major setbacks or complete failure, only to rise from the ashes with a new and better idea. As long as you’re learning and adapting, a failure isn’t a bad thing. It’s just part of the process that leads to success.