Fail Forward

August 03, 2023

Experiencing failure is an inevitable part of running a small business. Unfortunately, small business owners are often placed in risky situations where they may have to make a decision that could end negatively.

However, small business owners cannot be afraid of failure. They must realize failure is crucial to accomplishing their goals and ensuring their businesses continue to succeed in the future. Small business owners will never learn how to overcome challenges and rebuild without failure.

Therefore, when small business owners experience a failure, they must fail forward. They must utilize the failure they are experiencing as an opportunity for growth.

Here are five steps small business owners should take to ensure they fail forward:

1. Evaluate the failure.

When small business owners experience a failure, they must take time to evaluate it thoroughly. This involves determining the cause of it. They must identify what happened and what specific events led to the failure. Doing so will also allow small business owners to determine if they could have prevented this failure from occurring or if it was largely outside their control. Once small business owners have a clear and thorough understanding of the cause of the failure they are experiencing, they can begin to move forward.

2. Search for positives.

Once a failure occurs, small business owners must also take time to identify any positive outputs it produces. Oftentimes, these positive outputs disguise themselves as opportunities for small businesses to move forward in a new way. These may allow the small business owner to restructure how they run the business. They may decide to expand or reduce the breadth of products and services they offer, or even rethink their mission statement and values. All failures generally have a positive outcome of some kind. While it may not immediately be apparent, if small business owners take the time to dig deep and look for the good that came out of the failure they are experiencing, they can move forward in a positive direction.

3. Build a path forward.

The next step small business owners must take to fail forward is to devise a plan of action that will allow them to move on from this failure positively. First, they must determine how they will immediately respond to this failure, including any efforts to help those directly impacted and replace or fix any damaged resources. Once they have done so, they must decide what they will do next to ensure their businesses can rebuild and come back stronger than before. This may involve implementing a new protocol or creating a new department to ensure a similar failure does not happen again. Doing so will be a team effort. It will take cooperation from all employees to ensure the small business remains committed to this path forward and does everything in its power to uphold its promises.

4. Communicate this information.

After small business owners have taken time to evaluate the failure, identify any positives that resulted from it, and build a path forward, they must communicate this information. They must communicate this information to any employees directly affected by the failure if not all employees at their small businesses. Furthermore, if customers were affected, they must also inform them of this information. Small business owners should acknowledge a failure and commit to moving forward rather than try to hide it and pretend it did not happen.

5. Strive to grow and not dwell on the past.

Small business owners also cannot allow any failures they experience to stop them from moving forward. Instead, they must strive to grow from them and move their businesses forward. By committing to learning from their mistakes and rebuilding a better business, they can fail forward and make positive changes. Furthermore, they must resist falling into the mindset that every failure defines them. They must, instead, acknowledge these failures as part of the learning and development process that will enable their businesses to thrive in the future.

Every small business owner will experience a few failures while running their business.

While it is never pleasant to fail, it is necessary to ensure the continued growth and, in return, the success of their businesses.

When small business owners experience a failure, they must be inclined to fail forward. They cannot allow these failures to define them and prevent them from accomplishing their goals. Instead, they must harness failures as opportunities to learn and grow. When they do, their small businesses will not only survive but thrive.

PaySmart is a payroll provider in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, supporting small businesses in the Central PA region. We are dedicated to helping small businesses take care of their payroll needs. To learn more information about how PaySmart may provide payroll solutions, please get in touch with us at 717-766-1777. Our New Client Concierge is waiting for you!