How to deal with challenges in business and ultimately thrive
Setbacks happen in business. It’s impossible to avoid dealing with failure on some level when running your own business.
Sometimes you make a mistake. Sometimes, someone else makes one that impacts you in your business. And sometimes, things change in the industry or market forces conspire against you.
Now I feel sure we all know that business is never a straight line from the start line to achieving your goal. Do you know that cartoon of the two gold miners? One of them hits gold in his tunnel, while the other one is about to break through to a big pile of riches but gives up and futilely heads down the first miner’s tunnel thinking it’s the way to go, but there is no more gold at the end of it.
Realistically – how you deal with business mistakes and failures will be the making of you.
It’s never comfortable dealing with the challenges I know, and I’m not perfect at it either, but here’s what I’ve learnt about successfully overcoming the difficult times and ultimately thriving.
Preparation helps, but isn’t fool proof
For a few years now, I’ve been working in the gym with a strength and conditioning trainer. Shout out to Coach Stilli!
My two main goals with this are to help maintain my fitness and energy levels to sustain the crazy busy life I lead as a working Mum. And secondly, to help overcome some long-term back and hip pain issues hanging over from producing three babies.
It feels awesome to make such good progress in anything you’re aiming to achieve, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not a straight line from start to success.
Despite the hours, weeks and months and years of hard work, I STILL occasionally manage to hurt my back. I haven’t done it for a few months now, but every now and then, usually when I’ve been really really tired and sitting for too many hours at the desk, I’ll bend down to pick something up, forget to brace my core, and PING. Back in spasm and me in a world of pain.
How do you react when setbacks happen?
Here’s how Old Me would have reacted. In the past, I would have thrown myself a massive
And most likely I would have all but given up on achieving my goals, with negative self-talk
like, “I can’t do it. I’m not good enough.”
Now, I have a different mindset
These days, I approach recovery differently: My coach and I know what to do and what to avoid and so after an initial rest period, I’m able to get back in training with a recovery period that’s much, much faster.
Over the last 15-ish years in business, I’ve also experienced my own challenges and ups and downs in business, whether it be mistakes made or things happening in the market or economy!
From issues with manufacturing, to staff, to cash-flow, to global financial crises, and everything in between, it definitely hasn’t been a smooth journey. That’s normal!
Here are my best strategies for resolving problems and going on to thrive and succeed:
I think the first thing to remember is that growing a successful business is not a linear
process. Setbacks happen.
Sometimes you try things and they don’t work out the way you think. And sometimes we
don’t see the opportunities or threats coming towards us until it’s too late. (Sadly, there’s
no crystal ball when it comes to business!)
So #1 is to accept that shit happens sometimes, and to NOT take it personally!
Instead, your mindset needs to be around learning and problem solving. It’s OK to try
things out, and if they don’t work then you know not to do that thing again!
I also like to adopt some daily activities that help you maintain a positive mindset. What I do is to keep a daily meditation, visualisation and journal practice, in addition to the other things I’ve mentioned here.
And in addition to that, I feel like it’s worth mentioning: adopting practices to help you stay calm and positive does not mean that you aren’t also a bit scared and anxious about what the future holds.
It just means you acknowledge those feelings and then put them aside rather than dwelling on them all the time.
Motivation and Ambition
One of the biggest differences between being an entrepreneur vs being an employee is
that your motivation has to be completely internal. There is no boss paying you a salary,
no manager dictating KPI’s, and no-one else’s vision to inspire you.
Your ‘WHY’ – your own business vision and the reasons why you started your business –
needs to be strong enough and important enough to carry you through the tough times.
Keep your eye on the prize, and that’ll keep you motivated through the tough times.
Remaining optimistic when things aren’t going your way is really hard. But it’s essential to
your success in business!
Even JK Rowling was turned down 12 times before she was published. 12 times! When
you see the runaway success of her Harry Potter series now, it seems ludicrous that her
success was not a given. But she had to be resilience throughout those knock-backs.
When shit happens, speak to yourself as you would your own child. Tell yourself, “It’ll be
Being a creative thinker and a good problem-solver are also essential to your success in
Try to approach a set-back as a problem that needs solving. This is a more objective way
to look at the situation, which helps to take the emotion (the “woe is me”!) out of things.
set yourself a routine for work. As someone who has worked from home for years, this is something I’ve perfected over time. I have set work hours, and when it’s time for work I literally dress myself as though I’m going to work, including putting a bit of effort into my hair and makeup.
I realise that seems ludicrous when you work from home, but what I’ve learned from experience, is that if you feel like you’re going to work, and you feel professional, then that’s how you show up. It helps to put me in the right frame of mind to be focused and productive and to give my best efforts for my clients, customers and team.
#3 – take care of your physical health as well, with regular exercise and healthy meals. I know it’s tempting to exist off chocolate and gin right now, but whilst that can help make everything feel a bit better in the short term, it’s not a great recipe for the long-term.
Give yourselves the best chance of staying healthy and having the energy to keep productive. Plus, making time for regular exercise is another way of creating a routine, and with a solid routine in place it’ll really help you to feel like you have some control over your situation.
History has shown us time and time again, that the businesses who maintain a marketing presence through a downturn, are the fastest to recover and do well once the economy recovers.
And it will!
First things first – take a look at what marketing you’ve run in the past that’s worked really well, particularly at a similar time of the year. Even the best of us will sometimes forget the fact that sales might dip at certain times of the year, or we might forget that we did well at the same time last year because we ran a specific type of promotion that customers loved.
I also often observe – in myself as well as others – the phenomenon of the ‘new normal’. This happens when revenue tapers off a bit after a period of growth. We’ve become used to the new normal level of revenue, so even a small drop feels big even if we’re still doing way more than we were during the same period last year.
If you want a specific marketing recommendation – make sure you are really utilising email marketing right now, and not just sending an ad hoc email blast out to everyone on your list. Email marketing, still now in 2021, has the highest ROI of all the marketing channels at 3800%, so you want to get really consistent with your marketing emails to stay in touch with your customers and to generate consistent sales in your online store.
Additionally – I have a free Quiz available on my website that will help you to identify exactly what you should be focusing on in your marketing, depending on where you’re at right now and what’s happening in your business at the moment.
You can head to https://www.catherinelangman.com to access that quiz, or I’ll share the direct link to it in the podcast shownotes.
Pivot and be nimble. What opportunities are there, right now in your market or your product niche? What needs can you be filling for your customers? If you don’t know – ask them! If you’ve worked with me in the past you’ll know I’m a big fan of customer surveys that get right at the heart of your customers biggest struggles. Examine where the market actually is, what commerce is actually taking place, and figure out where your company fits into the solution.
Remember, out of the GFC economic downturn we had in 2008, companies like Uber, AirBnB, Pinterest and WhatsApp were invented.
And during his period of self-isolation during the Great Plague of London in 1665-1666, Albert Einstein invented the mathematical system called calculus and the theory of gravity.
The businesses that come through the tough times stronger are the ones that lean into the economy we have rather than the economy we want. Use any extra time you have to come up with new ideas, anticipate future customer needs, and prepare to hit the ground running once this is all over.
This isn’t about being religious, it’s about knowing and trusting the fact that the second half of the calendar year is typically where the sales growth happens, especially as we head into the 4th quarter with Black Friday followed by the Holiday Sales spike.
But to really capitalise on a bumper sales season in Q4, you really do need to be doing all the other audience-building and marketing activities now. That way you will have plenty of customers primed for the pump when it comes to the silly season!
Get the right expert help
Hard work is rarely enough. Working with someone who has “been there, done that”
experience cuts the journey much shorter.
Much like me with my fitness coach, you’ll experience fewer setbacks, more efficient recovery, and faster and bigger sales growth.
That’s what my team and I are here for, through our courses and coaching as well as our done-for-you services in our digital marketing agency.
Now, before we finish up, I want to ask you a question:
What are you excited about achieving in your business this year?
What’s your big, hairy, audacious goal? Is it good enough to get you out of bed on a bad
Some of my clients are launching new product inventions to market. Some are scaling
their eCommerce sales. Some are expanding overseas.
Whatever it is for you – would you like some help with that?
My team and I work with ambitious eCommerce brand owners all day, every day, helping them to connect with more customers online.
If you’re looking for someone with experience in this niche to help you grow your business
and navigate the ups and downs, then let’s chat!
Head to ProductpreneurMarketing.com to book a free strategy session with us.