12 Ways To Turn Professional Setbacks Into Successes

The Young Entrepreneur Council weighs in on how to turn setbacks into successes.
Founder, The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
September 05, 2011

Recently I was asked by Donna of Texas: What are your tips for turning setbacks into successes?

Below are answers from the Young Entrepreneur Council, a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. 

1. You're always a student

If you want to turn setbacks into successes, then you need to learn from them because you're always a student. No matter how successful you are, there will always be larger obstacles. Confront them by viewing each as a learning experience.

—Dan Schawbel ( http://twitter.com/danschawbel ), Millennial Branding ( http://personalbranding.com/ )

2. Make it an opportunity

Look at every failure as an opportunity. It's fun game to play when you're at your worst to try and figure out how exactly you can turn a bad thing into an advantage you wouldn't have otherwise had. If you stop and think about it, you'll probably come up with something. Act on it, benefit, and your fear of failure will largely disappear.

—Colin Wright (http://www.twitter.com/colinismyname ), Exile Lifestyle ( http://exilelifestyle.com/ )

3. Separate yourself from the situation

A setback is only a setback if we call it that. Events happen, and then it is the meaning that we attach to them that create our experience. Be mindful of this, as it's not the event itself that "good" or "bad." Oftentimes, as I'm sure you've experienced too, what seems "bad" at first glance ends up leading to an extremely positive experience.

—Jordana Jaffe ( http://www.twitter.com/jordanajaffe ), Embarkability ( http://www.embarkability.com/ )

4. Setbacks only slow you down

Setbacks are merely hurdles standing in your way. They are inevitable and unavoidable at times. As soon as you recognize this, you will begin to navigate through setbacks accordingly. As long as you keep your eyes on the desired outcome, you will get there eventually.

—Logan Lenz ( http://www.twitter.com/loganlenz ), Endagon ( http://endagon.com/ )

5. Memorize the lesson

Don't quickly recover and hurry off to your success. Take the time to study and fully understand your setback. As painful as it may be, this is the way to squeeze all the juice from the valuable lessons setbacks present.

—Lisa Nicole Bell ( http://www.twitter.com/LisaNicoleBell ), Inspired Life Media Group ( http://www.lisanicolebell.com )

6. Change the packaging

Perception is reality! It's all about what it looks and sounds like. So wrap your setback in a totally "new and improved" packaging of what the setback has taught you and now, how you're stronger, wiser and better than others as a successful survivor of that setback.

—Devesh Dwivedi ( http://www.twitter.com/Break9to5Jail ), Breaking The 9 To 5 Jail ( http://www.breakingthe9to5jail.com/ )

7. Be honest and make it right

If you make a mistake or hit a setback that has an impact on others, it's important to be upfront, honest and make it right. If they know what's going on and see that you're trying to fix the situation, people tend to be incredibly forgiving. If you deny responsibility, lie, hide, shut down, blame others or simply get angry at the world, you'll compound the issue.

—Elizabeth Saunders (http://www.Twitter.com/RealLifeE ), Real Life E® ( http://www.ScheduleMakeover.com/ )

8. Look at the big picture

Treat setbacks as speed bumps on the path to success. Victory would not taste so sweet if there were no hardships along the way. If you change your mentality to embrace setbacks and view them as part of the big picture, then you will react more favorably when they arrive.

—Anthony Saladino ( http://twitter.com/cabinetkings ), Kitchen Cabinet Kings ( http://www.kitchencabinetkings.com/ )

9. Jack of all trades, master of none

A head of a Fortune 500 company told me unsuccessful entrepreneurs are usually jack of all trades but masters of none. You must concentrate on being successful with one business versus wearing numerous hats for numerous businesses. Synergies will allow you to branch out but having numerous disconnected businesses will not allow proper growth.

—Michael Sinensky (http://twitter.com/msinensky ), Village Pourhouse ( http://www.villagepourhouse.com)

10. Admit your mistakes and share your lessons

Don't hide behind your setbacks and failures, but rather showcase them as lessons you have learned. Blog about how you overcame these challenges and help others avoid them. This is a great way to boost good will about your business.

—Lucas Sommer ( http://www.twitter.com/audimated ), Audimated ( http://www.audimated.com/ )

11. Update your approach

Every setback is really feedback—it shows you what isn't working about your approach and gives you the opportunity to change it, before there's a real problem. Take advantage of the information that a setback provides to tweak your methods and expectations.

—Thursday Bram ( http://www.twitter.com/thursdayb ), Hyper Modern Consulting ( http://www.hypermodernconsulting.com )

12. Learn to bend with the wind

As a business owner you're going to fail at some point and have a few bumps in the road. Sometimes failure or bumps are the best thing that can happen to your business so evaluate, learn from it and then move on. Those that learn to to bend when the wind blows don't break in the end.

—Ashley Bodi ( http://twitter.com/businessbeware ), Business Beware ( http://businessbeware.biz/ )

Founder, The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)