How to Weather Bad Days in Your Business

Into every business, a little rain must fall. It’s all part of the process. We do the best we can, and yet mistakes are made.

It’s not about the mistakes themselves. Everyone makes them. Really. Everyone.

The paths of the most successful businesses include some failures.

When you’re building a business based on your authentic expression, you’re involved in a great experiment. You are finding your way, and that involves the occasional side trail.

It’s not the mistakes that ultimately matter. It’s how you respond to them and what you do with them that does count.

About 10 years ago, my business was in debt, to the tune of almost one-third of annual revenues at the time.

In my attempt to grow my business quickly, I made some mistakes. I hired inexperienced staff, which is what I thought the business could afford. I made choices that were informed more by kindness than smarts. I took on overhead expenses in the form of office space that was larger than immediately needed. In just a few months, the business went from a healthy cash situation to debt.

That time was characterized by some bad days.

The good news is, I didn’t let those days define the business.

I took action to remedy the situation. I had some tough conversations. I let some staff go, so that only those who could contribute substantially stayed. I renegotiated my lease and moved to smaller office space. I increased our focus on projects that could be completed quickly and efficiently, to boost cash flow.

In less than 6 months, we were back in the black.

There’s a temptation when things go awry to either delay in taking action because of fear or to be unnecessarily hard on yourself. I did both, and learned from the experience. Both sides of that particular coin do not serve you, or your business.

When you have a bad day in your business, here’s what to do:

Take immediate action. Delaying your decisions and response will often only worsen the situation. Do your research, ask good questions, find out what you need to know, and then act.

Go back to what you know works and start from there. When you’ve wandered off onto a side trail, the best way to get reoriented is to go back to the point where things were working. That serves as a new starting point.

Retell the story. There’s a difference between accepting the reality of a situation vs. painting a grim scenario of ‘what-ifs’. Think of your sad what-if story as a train. You can get off that train at any time. You don’t have to ride until the end, the point where you run out of track and fuel and you’re completely demoralized. It’s a long walk back if you let yourself do that. Instead, just step off the train. Go to the station coffee shop and have a latte. Repicture how this situation could be the beginning of something new and beneficial. Make that your story.

Learn from it. It’s not enough to experience a bad day, and then move on. You have a great opportunity here. What is making this a bad day for you? Is it your mindset, or your perception of the situation? Is it a decision you’ve made? Is it related to choices you’ve made about your partners or clients?

Do better next time. When the lesson becomes clear, you’ll have that much more to bring to new situations, and you’ll make better choices. You do not have to be defined by your past, in any way. Each moment is a new starting point.

Every business has bad days. Everyone makes mistakes. It is what you do with them that matters.

Make every day count. Turn your bad days into your best lessons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *