“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
– Bill Gates
When was the last time you were happy specifically because something went wrong with your business?
For example…when you lost a client because they weren’t satisfied with their experience?
(Doesn’t sound familiar?)
For most of us, a setback doesn’t exactly make our day.
It’s easy to be happy when things are going well; for example, when your customers are happy. When customers are excited about their purchases, when they leave rave reviews, that gives us a thrill. A little serotonin. A (likely, much-needed) boost.
Those moments feel like miniature gifts amidst the hard work of building your business.
Why, then, should setbacks be the gifts we value, instead?
However, happy customers might not teach you anything. When you’re starting a new business or growing one, you need to be learning. Every second of every day.
If you look at it that way, an unhappy customer represents an opportunity in a way that a happy one just doesn’t.
It’s time to reframe setbacks. When something happens in your business that isn’t precisely what you’d hoped or plan, it’s time to take a beat.
As it turns out, there are a lot of things you can learn from a painful setback.
Using setbacks for growth
The next time you experience a setback in your business, don’t get frustrated. Instead, leverage that setback by taking the following steps:
- First, change your attitude regarding setbacks. See them as inevitable. Don’t instantly start berating yourself when something bad happens. Instead, decide to take advantage of the situation.
- When a setback happens, take a moment to figure out WHY it did.
- When you’ve identified the root cause of your frustrating scenario – why the delay occurred, why the customer was unhappy, why an investor didn’t get excited about your pitch – congratulate yourself. You’ve identified a way to make your business stronger.
- Delve into strategy mode. Address the root cause. Put together a strategy to make sure that that specific scenario doesn’t happen again, if possible.
Remember: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (It’s not just a Kelly Clarkson song. It’s true – and, if you really believe it, it can be life-changing.)
Here’s a visual: An arrow needs to be drawn back before launching. For a time, that poor arrow is going backwards – with a lot of resistance, no less.
It’s difficult. It feels wrong.
But then – often, with no warning at all – that arrow is sprung forward. It soars. It flies. And – guess what? Its trajectory is often determined by how far backwards it went to begin with.
If you’re going through a setback, just think of that arrow.
What you learn from this tough time could be just the magic ticket to accelerate you to a beautiful future.