Failed? So What?

(Pour lire une version en français)

Did you know that small and medium enterprises represent 99% of Canadian businesses and that they play a critical role in the Canadian economy?

Some statistics are really depressing – 50% of new businesses close up shop after their first year according to Statistics Canada, but this number is sugar-coated for the media to avoid making people panic. The real numbers? Somewhere around 80% of entrepreneurs don’t make it past their first year and only half of the survivors are still in business after five years. It’s that second statistic that’s a cause for concern. New businesses require close to five years for a decent profit, so if 90% of all businesses shut down in that period, is it a sign of how difficult it is to become a successful entrepreneur?

With these numbers and statistics in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that many of my fellow entrepreneurs are failures! But is failure an option? Can we strive to somehow claw ourselves back following a failure?

In my 18-year entrepreneurial career, I’ve had seven companies or projects that were total disasters and three that were highly successful. To put it bluntly, when I look back, would I have done things differently? NO – I made brilliant and honest mistakes! I am successful today because I made so many mistakes in the beginning. These mistakes are a reminder of my journey, like scars or tattoos on my skin.

My failures produced so much psychological stress and setbacks for my family that I came up with guidelines to make sure I pulled myself back up again from every single one in the future!

Once again, failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey and, by the way, chances are that you will fail too at some point, and that I will fail again!

Here are the rules I developed to ensure that I make intelligent decisions along the way and also to help me bounce back every time:

  • ALWAYS pay yourself first

I know it sounds awful but you are like the fuel that goes into the engine of a car. And without fuel, you won’t go far!

  • When things get really tough, don’t wait before downsizing

It’s the hardest thing to do, as it’s tough emotionally, but you must control your cashflow.

  • Protect yourself

Your business may be failing, but that doesn’t mean it has to drag you down with it. Pay attention to your personal finances.

  • Absorb and learn

Your failed business has proven that you don’t know everything, so don’t be overconfident, just TRY AGAIN.

  • Remember the nightmare

Carry yourself with confidence but be humble. People might assume you’ve forgotten, but you haven’t and you shouldn’t.

We all stumble and fall – it’s part of the journey. You need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off. It’s important to be confident in yourself and your abilities to re-engage. If you think you’re awesome, others will think so too. AND remember that what separates successful entrepreneurs from those who aren’t is the speed with which they get right back to creating companies and forging a new path straight ahead like an unstoppable tank!

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