Entrepreneurs

Council Post: Eight Entrepreneurs Share Lessons From Business Disasters That Were Blessings In Disguise

Devastating occurrences sometimes happen in business without a lot of forewarning. Entrepreneurs can leverage insurance to protect themselves from things such as fire or theft, but there are other less obvious disasters that are more difficult to prepare for.

And yet, these negative situations can often be blessings in disguise, pushing the business to regroup, rethink and grow in the process. Below, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council share some of the devastating occurrences that have affected their organizations and the lessons they learned that helped them move forward and achieve success.

1. Embrace Changes

Early on when starting my business, I planned to go into it with a partner. They ended up backing out at the last minute and I thought everything was ruined. I was sure I’d have to set back my plans and perhaps even start from scratch. But what ended up happening was I realized I didn’t need a co-founder or partner. I was able to take on their share of the work and, although it wasn’t easy, it opened my eyes to what a blessing it was. It saved me a lot of time, money and headaches at the end of the day, so I felt grateful for the change. Sometimes you have to embrace changes to see how they benefit you and enhance your life. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

2. Keep Building Your Skills

When I started my business, I found that the business aphorism that all you have to do is build a great product and customers will beat a path to your door was not true for me. I struggled with marketing my product at first and also finding help with growing my business. However, I persevered and picked up marketing skills. I also ended up partnering with people who were great marketers and this helped me build my business to what it is. So, the lesson I learned is that you have to keep building your skills. At the same time, focus on what you’re good at and there will come a time when your product can speak for itself. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

3. Keep Things In Perspective

Years ago, we lost what was, at the time, one of our largest customers. The customer explained that part of their decision to leave was that we had changed our model from a single point of contact to multiple points of contact. From our perspective, the change was in their best interest as well as ours. They didn’t see things that way, and they fired us. We were devastated. We worried about the financial implications, and we even started to question our strategy. In the end, we doubled down and stuck with our plan. In the years following, our business became objectively better by every measure. The whole ordeal taught us to keep things in perspective. What seemed like a massive issue at the time turned out to be nothing more than a speed bump. The best part: the client ended up coming back! – Ben Landers, Blue Corona

4. Ensure That Your Business Model Is Flexible

Starting out as a new small business owner, I had most of my experience with consumer-level services. Then, about two weeks after launching our site, all of our clients switched their focus to the business-to-business realm and we had to very quickly regroup and pivot in that direction to accommodate. It was stressful, but ultimately a huge blessing because I learned that my business model had to be, and thankfully was, flexible. Pivoting toward B2B also allowed us to experience growth that I don’t think we would have seen in the business-to-consumer space. – Reuben Yonatan, SaasList

5. Require An Upfront Payment

When I started my first business, I had one client not pay his bill. After I chased him for months, he disappeared completely. I learned how important it is to have payment made prior to starting a project. If a prospective client doesn’t agree with this term, then they are not the right fit for our company. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

6. Constantly Explore New Partnerships

We’ve had long-term vendors terminate our engagement with little to no notice. In some cases, we had to hire staff to fill the skills shortage, but in other situations we had to scramble to rework our supply chain. Despite those setbacks though, one big thing that we’ve learned is that we should constantly explore new working relationships and partnerships. It’s easy to become overly dependent on an agency, freelancer or supplier. But in doing so, you put yourself in a risky position in case they decide to change the terms, terminate the engagement early or fail to meet their service-level agreement conditions too. While loyalty and long-term partnerships are important parts of ongoing success, you can’t always assume that things will stay the same forever. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress

7. Spend Time Learning

I remember when one of our competitors suddenly blew past us and started getting more traction than we were getting at the time. I was worried that they would “put us under,” so to speak. As it turns out, their brief success helped us understand where we could improve. For instance, the ability to look at their social media page and see the demand from their customers helped us figure out what features we could add to our product to make it stand out. The lesson I learned was that success doesn’t happen overnight. You have to spend time learning about your audience and building your brand based on feedback. Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

8. Always Communicate With Your Customers

When we made a few changes to one of our products, we received a large number of negative reviews. We realized that there was a communication issue and had to work fast to keep people informed about the changes happening. It was a stressful few weeks, but when we shared why we made changes and how they’d benefit customers, we got better responses and were able to ride out this difficult period. One lesson I learned from this was to be prepared for negative feedback and to clearly explain why you’re making specific changes, keeping in mind the benefits that will ultimately help the customers. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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