February 9, 2016
It’s a simple and self-evident truth: not all business ideas were created equal. Sometimes you hit the right mark but at the wrong time, and sometimes you simply didn’t have the necessary skills to get your business to a sustainable level. Sometimes it’s time to wrap a business up carefully, and then move on to your next idea. So how do you do that? How do you make peace with what went wrong, and prepare for the next big event?
Conduct Your Postmortem, but Don’t Dwell
An important part of winding down a business is gaining a deeper understanding of what went wrong. You need to understand both any market forces that were working against your business, but also what you personally did or did not do that contributed to your business’s failure. If you find yourself saying “The time just wasn’t right,” or “The market was working against me,” without any understanding of what you might have done differently to convince the market to work for you, you’re not digging deep enough.
Evaluate What You Need to Learn Before Your Next Venture
If your business fell apart because you couldn’t connect with your audience, it’s time to relearn the basics of digital marketing and content creation. If your company fell victim to the ongoing increase in cyber crime it’s time to learn more about how cloud services can keep your data more secure, as well as IT protocols that can protect your customers. If cash flow was your problem, time to take a class in accounting or money management.
There are many ways to gather education in the 21st century, from classes at your local community college to attending conventions and meetups in your city, or taking online courses from respected entrepreneurs.
Reevaluate Your Team
If you went into business with friends or family, and are considering doing so in the future, this is a good time for you to start analyzing how things went. While there are many great businesses in the world where family works together, it can be very difficult to go into business with someone you care about and both maintain a relationship and a successful business. If this was a factor in your business’s struggles, it’s a good idea to use downtime to discuss what went wrong, and if you want to try again, or if it’s better to move in different directions.
Consider If You Need a New Idea or Just a New Start
Sometimes you realize that your idea just wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. But sometimes you realize that your idea is still solid, but your content wasn’t good enough, or you didn’t have a good lead up, or you didn’t reach your audience where they are.
Depending on how much money you sank into your launch, it’s possible sometimes to turn things around and start again. Some ideas to help you refocus:
- Was your website clear and well targeted? Was your landing page capturing attention, or were your bounce rates very high?
- How did you share content? Did you focus your content marketing to help bring in search engine traffic, or were you not specific enough?
- Was your description of your ideal customer tightly focused, or were you trying to market to “everyone?” If everyone, then take the time to sit down and really understand who the ideal customer is for your business. Decide who they are, where they spend their time, and what their problem is that you can solve.
It can sometimes feel like the only way to be successful as an entrepreneur is to find success straight out of the gate. 90 percent of startups fail, meaning that most successful entrepreneurs are not winning the first time they sit down at the table. You can’t look at statistics like that and assume that you’re the one to beat them, especially the first time out.
Sure, it can feel like no one is ever going to loan you money or invest in your business again, now that you have a business failure on your resume. But that’s where the deep dive on what went wrong becomes so important. Investors may be more interested in your product if you can put forward a concise, professional discussion of what went wrong, and what you’re going to do to protect your new business from the same fate. This is especially true when you can show that you’ve worked on your skills during your downtime, either through mentorship or formal education.
Don’t give up because your business didn’t pan out this time. Pick yourself up, write that post-mortem, and try again.
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