How to Handle Failure in Business

Samantha Schleese

by Samantha Schleese

Published: May 6, 2021

So: You’re a plucky, young entrepreneur just about to dip your toe into the untested waters of starting your own business. You’ve got pep, you’re full of moxy, and you’re not afraid of failure.

There are those among us, wise beyond their years, that would share with you their hot take that “you should be afraid.” We’re not beyond doubting those who share their feelings so freely and loudly, but we think this isn’t the point. It’s not whether or not you should be afraid of failing, but whether or not you are prepared to fail.

Failure is a very real possibility in the high-stakes world of entrepreneurship. Approximately 7,000 businesses go bankrupt each year in Canada. If your new business isn’t part of the 20 percent  that fail in their first year, you could very well be part of the 60 percent that fail within the first three years of operation.

Starting your own business is a risky proposition with no certain outcome. That’s why in order to succeed, you need to know How to Handle Failure in Business. You won’t know how to run a successful operation before you’ve learned how to take a fall.

Are you ready to stare into the abyss? Here’s a few tips to help handle failure in business:

Plan It, Janet

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You’ve gone over all your plans. You’ve optimized all your variables. You’ve done everything you’ve needed to do, and yet you still have one more thing to do: consider what happens if you fail.

There are entrepreneurs who will tell you that they simply don’t consider failure to be an option. They consider it to be pessimistic thinking, and that it’s negative; they think that by preparing to fail, you are welcoming failure to happen. (Spoiler alert: These kinds of people usually aren’t entrepreneurs for long.)

To become successful, you need to plan for the best, and prepare for the worst. You need to consider every possibility, and have an exit strategy in place. It’s not as fun as fantasizing about your end goals, but being an entrepreneur isn’t always fun. It’s hard work, and it’s challenging.

Do your due diligence; be ready for the potholes of calamity that lie ahead, and your business will have a much smoother road.

Spectator Support

Building a network is vital to entrepreneurs; you need to make connections to build your business and find new opportunities. But, as you make with the gladhands and schedule appointments for lunch, be sure to also create a network of people that are there for you.

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Every person starting their own business needs a strong support network. They need confidants to confide in, and advisors to seek advice from. By building a support network (like participating in our monthly Networking Happy Hour events),, you’ll have positive people in your life that can help you when you need it, especially when things go south.

And about that—don’t ever make emotional decisions. As an entrepreneur, you need to be level-headed and not make snap decisions based on gut instinct or your current mood. Use your support group to be your emotional anchor; find clarity before you get dragged out to sea in the heat of passion.

Setback & Chill

Failure in business seems like a huge setback, but every successful businesswoman needs to focus on the positive. You may not have achieved your goal, but you’ve learned a valuable lesson; knowing what you’ve learned, you are sure you won’t repeat the same mistake again. After all, once you remove its negative connotations, you’ll see that a failure is nothing more than a learning opportunity.

For this reason, it’s important to not take yourself too seriously. Your business may have meant a lot to you, but you are much more than just a business plan you implemented. Don’t take failure personally. You have much more to give, and the world hasn’t yet seen the best you have to offer.

Keeping the proper perspective is also important for the next point...

Sting Like a Humblebee

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As the animal metaphors tell us, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve all tasted defeat at some point, and we know what it’s like to fail. That’s why it’s important to stay humble at all times—even during your biggest successes.

As a person with a support group, you know you didn’t do it alone. You’ve come to accept victory gracefully because you treat failure the same way. What’s more, by getting rid of your ego, you are confident enough to admit your failings to others, thereby demonstrating that you’ve transcended the limitations that a fear of failure has upon new entrepreneurs.

This is the way. And, it could be your way.

Some of us aren’t so lucky to be encumbered with success, but it’s this state of mind that we should all strive towards. We shouldn’t be afraid of failure, but accept it as part of the unending cycle of incremental iterations towards perfection. And, by incorporating these tips into your operation, hopefully you’ll be better equipped to handle failure in business.

Are you interested in starting your own business? Do you need help? Find a mentor in the MOGUL Crews Accelerator program at City MOGULS!