Episode 21: Crucial Strategies for Dealing With Failure


If there is one thing that’s true about being an entrepreneur, it’s that you have to get used to rejection and failure. These things are a part of the game when you have your own business. Entrepreneurship is all about innovation and curiosity and you can’t have those things without failure. The important thing is knowing how to deal with this reality and not letting it stop you from moving forward. 

We have both encountered failure over the course of our careers. The reason we have successful businesses now is because we learned to deal with that failure and we’ve used it to propel us forward instead of letting it hold us back. 

Today we are sharing some of the lessons we have learned over the years on how to deal with failure and rejection as entrepreneurs. 

Let yourself process the failure

When you experience failure in your business, whether it was a small error or a huge mistake, it is important to deal with the feelings and emotions that come with it. Don’t go into denial or try to cover your feelings with food, drinks, or anything else. You may be angry, sad, depressed, discouraged, embarrassed, etc… You have to let those out. 

Talk to a friend or a loved one. Write out your feelings in a journal. Seek professional help if you need to. Don’t let these emotions eat away at your or cause you to lash out at people around you. Take the time and space you need to process the failure and how it made you feel. Failure will get easier the more you experience it. Just know that you will overcome it and you can use it to help you succeed in the future. 

Focus on what you learn, not so much on the failure itself

It is easy to get obsessed with failure. Most likely your mind will start to analyze everything about the failure--why it happened, what you could have done, how stupid you are, etc… But you need to focus on the lessons you can take from what happened. What can you take from that experience to help in the future? Use this as a learning experience and a way to propel you forward. 

Have somebody to talk to

When the two of us fail, we talk to each other and it really helps. It is so important to have someone you can talk to when you fail. This can be a friend, a spouse, a family member--any one you trust. Talking about things out loud with an objective third party may even shed some light on the situation that will make you realize it wasn’t as big of a mistake as you thought. They will probably have a different perspective on the situation that can help you learn from what happened. 

Sweat it out

It can definitely help to get out and exercise. You can go for a walk or a run. You can go to the gym. You can do yoga. Whatever you can to get moving and refocus your mind. It can also help with chemical imbalances that may also play a role in negative thoughts. This goes along with eating healthy and taking care of your body. If you aren’t taking good care of your body and you don’t feel good physically or mentally, rejection and failure will be a lot harder to work through. 

Put failure in context

Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than we need to be. So you failed, is it something you are new at? Is it something that is out of your comfort zone? Is it something that is extremely challenging that you are still trying to master? Realize that you are doing your best and that failure is natural. Don’t be too hard on yourself or make a failure out to be worse than it actually is. 

Be resilient, but take a break if you need to

You can’t let failure keep you down. It is important as an entrepreneur to learn to live with failure and not get to you too much. Get back up on your feet and do better, work harder, and take what you’ve learned moving forward. 

With that being said, you can also take a break if you need to before getting back up. It doesn’t have to be an instant jump up. As mentioned previously, find ways to process the failure and your feelings, but once you’ve done that it’s time to move on. If you need to take a day, two days or a week off, do it. Find ways to laugh, be with family and friends, enjoy nature, etc.. But don’t let yourself stay down too long. 

Fail fast and fail smart

Failure is going to happen, but you have to fail smart. For example, if you have three kids and a house with a mortgage, it’s probably not the best time to put every penny of your kids’ college fund into one idea. If you have an idea you want to explore, give yourself a budget and a timeframe to test it out and if it fails, let it go.  

Use failure as fuel

As an entrepreneur it is crucial that you take your failures and use them as motivation to do better and be more prepared. Don’t think of it as something that ends your path as an entrepreneur, think of it as a launching pad to your next opportunity. 

Be aware of self-talk

After a failure it is easy to default to negative self-talk--I’m never going to be able to do this, I’m so stupid, I’ll never succeed, etc.. But everytime you recognize negative thoughts, you need to shift your mind to positive self-talk. You have to be your own cheerleader. Focus on what you’ve done well and the good things you have in your life. 

Stay optimistic 

No matter what you fail at or how bad you think things are, it is important as an entrepreneur to stay optimistic and to have hope. Talk out loud about the future  you want for yourself. Be proud of your failure and what it has taught you. Don’t let it be a roadblock. Stay positive. It is okay to feel negative at times, but don’t let that become your default mindset. Don’t let your life become mostly about the negative. If you feel sad or down after failure, that’s fine to feel that for a time. But be careful, negativity can spiral out of control if you stay there too long. 

Remember and accept that failure is going to be a part of entrepreneurship. There is no running or hiding from it. There is nothing wrong with failure, think of it as something that is pointing you in the direction that you’re supposed to be in. Acknowledge it, talk about it, take a break if you need to, and then jump up and get back to work. 

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