Entrepreneur: how to bounce back from “failure”?

4 October 2022

Setting the scene: Jeannine-Gladis dreamed of conquering the poutine market in Lyon. She had a wish, ambitions, a perfect sense of timing-cooking potatoes thanks to her experience, as well as years of training to bring her project to fruition. Unfortunately, 6 months after the opening of “Jeannine rime avec Poutine! PATATE’RAC (got it?): the lights went out, the adventure was over, and the store closed. Jeannine-Gladis may be a figment of my imagination, but the situation is far from dreamlike.

Well… If you’ve been in a similar situation, granted, it may not have been the most fun chapter in your professional epic. And yet, if it’s any consolation, in April 2021, INSEE’s statistics fell like a Band-Aid on a salad: 25% of businesses fail within the first 2 years, and 49.5% fail within the first 5 years. Not to mention young startups, which are said to fail by up to 80%… So you’re definitely not alone in this. These figures may seem discouraging and not at all reassuring, as I promised you? Don’t worry, the rest is coming. In concrete terms, how do you deal with what seems like a failure when you’ve put time, energy, aspirations and heart into a project that has fuelled your spirit? The answer in three steps.

Taking a step back

Georges Clemenceau once said: “What interests me is the lives of men who have failed, because that is the sign that they have tried to surpass themselves.” No “failure” ever really is, no matter how drooling and dripping with rainbow marshmallows this mojo may seem. And yet it’s a fact: it’s all about learning!

The INSEE figures mentioned earlier are a reminder that launching a company and offering a business in an already mature market is no easy task… But not impossible! Many entrepreneurs have experienced failure (or even bankruptcy), but this has not deprived them of a better future.

“- Hello Bill Gates? Yes, yeah, would it be to quickly go back over your Harvard dropout, and your first failed venture there too -RIP-, with Paul Allen? Then maybe we’ll talk about Microsoft, if you have time…”

Deconstructing disappointment and unlearning the fear that the same pattern will be repeated is crucial to moving forward and not dwelling on past mistakes. Don’t they say that after a fall on a bike, you’ve got to get back in the saddle? Every time you ride that damn bike, you won’t get a continuous string of bruises from encounters with asphalt.

This is for people who have suffered a significant loss of self-confidence. But I can also see those of you who, on the contrary, would like to go too fast, not taking the time to take a constructive stock!

Taking stock

As a ready-made transition, a company’s bankruptcy can be explained by a number of non-exhaustive reasons, which are worth looking into:
– No business plan or poor marketing strategy …
– Lack of cash …
– Management and/or anticipation conflicts…
– Commercial shortcomings, technical shortcomings…
– Market research (Was there a real need? Strong enough demand? Or stiff competition?) …
– Team conflicts or, on the contrary, lack of support, too much solitude…
– Cash management concerns…

To sum up, it’s important to find the main flaws that led to the system’s malfunctioning and subsequent collapse, in order to start again Stronger, Better, Faster, Stronger, as the Punk Idiots (a famous French duo formed in 1993 and specializing in electronic music) would say.

Stay pragmatic and take action

Now that the failure has been accepted and the process digested (or at least properly digested – it takes time!!), it’s important to focus on your future desires, while trying to avoid as far as possible the tendency to isolate yourself after a hard blow. Find out which organizations might be able to provide support.

Associations such as Second Souffle, 60,000 Rebonds and Les Rebondisseurs, with detailed websites, YouTube channels and other information networks, have been set up to promote entrepreneurial rebounding and ensure that failed entrepreneurs are not left to fend for themselves.

Their main missions are to inform, accompany, support experiences, and develop the final ability to reappear. Emmanuel Chain, a former presenter for M6 and Capital, has himself given an interview for the YouTube channel “Association Second Souffle”, in which he recounts his trials and tribulations as a young entrepreneur, ending his early days with a mess.

He quotes: “You have to accept that you’re in pain, and you repair yourself”, “Failure makes you stronger”. Mr Chain is quite right, and could even inspire a few tattoo ideas.

Keep believing in yourself!

Finally, drafting a new plan of action, whatever it may be, with the benefit of lessons learned, can prove invaluable.

What seemed like a failure becomes an asset and even an ally, so to all those who need to read it (Jeannine-Gladis included), don’t lose hope! “Failure makes you stronger.


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