You took the risk. Starting your own business takes moxie, gumption, heart, whichever you want to call it … They’re all a way of saying that you took a leap to work for yourself and maybe even see a dream realized. However, what people don’t like to admit, is that having all of those things also means you might fail a little bit more than the average Joe.

But that’s because the average Joes don’t take risks and don’t start their own businesses. You knew going into this that there was a risk you might fail, especially long term. Maybe your business is slowly decaying, or maybe it’s already burned to the ground. You are going to have to evaluate your life through an honest lens, but this failure doesn’t have to define you unless you let it.

Look at Your Finances

The worst for the first, alright? If we get through this section, it’s all downhill from there.

This is exactly what you’ve been stressing about, but freaking out about how bad it all is won’t help you recover. You have to know exactly how to fix this, which you can’t do if you don’t know exactly what the problem is.

Your first order of business is to keep up good financial sense. Now is the time to be conservative. Remember when you were saving up for your business the first time? This is like that, except longer and worse. If your business is still standing, calculate exactly how much longer you can keep the doors open. You’ll need to know this to create a contingency plan.

If your first business has already failed, and you’re eyeing the possibility of another startup, you’ll need to be more careful. While others may caution you against it, realize it’s not impossible. Plenty of successful businessmen and women have come back from an initial failure. Financially, however, it will be a tough road. Depending on how you left your first business, your credit rating might have suffered; you might have limited start-up capital; you might still owe.

These are all big problems. But they’re nothing that first-time entrepreneurs haven’t overcome. Don’t let your past failures pull you down. You may have more baggage, but you also have more experience.

Research, Research, Research

You may think you’re an expert in your field. Maybe you really are. But there’s always something to learn, and the best time for that is now.

No matter your industry or the scale of your business, there is something that you can learn, far beyond just observing trends. Look through the industry news as well, but it might be time to get a little bit more sophisticated. Big data is being utilized for small businesses, letting them use the same tools that corporations have. This can give you a much better picture of your competition, your efficiency, and where you can best use your money.

Research your client base. No matter if you’re running a restaurant or a startup software company, you need to know who your customers are. Consider that maybe one of the reasons you failed is that you don’t understand your customer base well enough. Look at your competitors that are flourishing and take note of what they’re doing well.

Examine Your Shortcomings

There is a reason that you failed — probably multiple. Those aren’t always immediately obvious, but if you take some time to reflect and you did the research above, then you can probably figure it out. There are two basic options: either people did not know about your product or they did not like it.

If they weren’t aware of you, then first examine your location. A bad location can be the death of a business. While there are some ways to compensate for that, if you’re eyeing prospects for business #2, don’t compromise this for anything, unless you are not relying on customers coming into the physical store.

Whatever the case, developing a website and online strategy is a must-have in today’s market. Even small businesses need a way for customers to find them on Google; when the majority of customers research online before making any purchase, you need to make sure that you’re at least an option. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes many small business owners make; word of mouth marking just doesn’t play the same role it used to.

The explanation for your business’s failure is that people didn’t like what you offered. In that case, refer to the research from above. What were customers looking for that you didn’t provide? It might have been the quality of the product or service, but it can also be their experience. Evaluate your current and prospective employees for any pain points.

Additionally, many business owners don’t take data security into account from the get go. Plenty of customers these days are worried about their financial security— 77 percent, in fact. Go out of your way to show that your customers can feel safe spending their money at your business, whether online or in store.  Enable safe purchases and allow customers to use chip cards. No matter your business, you have to keep up with current technology from a production and a profit standpoint.

Neglecting to discover the causes for your failure is a surefire way to repeat the same mistakes. Although risk-taking is a great quality in entrepreneurs, recklessness is not. That’s why it’s important that you follow these steps in order. You cannot understand the extent of your problem until you know your finances in and out. You cannot understand whether the risks you’re taking are smart until you do research. And you cannot understand if there even is a solution if you don’t look at where you fell short.

These steps take time, and they are not a guarantee for success. However, they certainly give you a strong leg up. As long as you are honest with yourself and properly assess when to put the pedal to the medal and when to back up, you can leave failure behind.

Dayton socialises for a living and writes for fun. She will forever be a prisoner of her family’s business, doomed to inherit responsibility despite frequent existential protests.

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