Every fashion designer and entrepreneur sets out to succeed entirely in their vision. But there will always be challenges along the way – that much is guaranteed. The one thing you can count on is that whether in a big or small way, everyone “fails” at one time or another. The hardest part is following through with your plans and continuing to push forward when things get difficult, and remembering that these failures form part of the learning process that direct you toward the right decisions and plans in the future, so that you can pursue and grow a truly sustainable business. How do you get back on track?
In the spirit of being open about growing a vision and learning from experiences that fall short of our expectations, I want to share some of our own here at Offset Warehouse with you. We have had two big setbacks this month:
- We nearly had a dress made entirely out of our beautiful, handwoven Offset Warehouse fabrics, designed by one of the most internationally influential British designers hit the Oscars red carpet, which would, of course, have been worn by a major celeb….
- Some of our handwoven fabrics are featured in a HUGE blockbuster movie this month… and we’ve been explicitly told that we’re not allowed to tell anyone the name of the movie or which fabulous celebrity (and I mean seriously fabulous!) is wearing them.
… you know what? It sucks. We’re a small fabric company, selling incredible fabrics that are doing absolutely ground-breaking, life-changing things. So when events with such enormous global reach happen to small businesses, like ours, it means everything. And when they fall through – it’s crushing.
For me, this blog is all about showing the journey of growing a sustainable business and not just showcasing the successes. I really admire businesses and people who talk about obstacles and things they strived for but missed out on – so I thought, “stuff it … I’m going to write about it”, and hopefully inspire some of you who might be facing similar struggles to dust yourself off and try again. Here are my top five tips for staying motivated, when you face a setback.
1. Accept The Situation
You’ll fail to fulfil orders on time, shipments will be delayed, you’ll have trouble financing inventory, investors will fall through, or you won’t find customers willing to purchase your new line. You may remember my article: The Most Common Mistakes First Time Entrepreneurs Make. It all happens. As Mellissah Smith of Marketing Eye assures, “Everyone in small business has been there at one time or another.” Sometimes it happens because of situations beyond our control and other times it happens because we are distracted. So accept it, understand why it happened and work to rectify it. It doesn’t matter where you place the blame as long as you keep moving forward.
2. Learn From Your Setbacks
Business Insider UK recently identified five mindsets that make an entrepreneur more likely to bounce back after a setback. One of these key mindsets is being able to learn and adapt. If your current strategy isn’t working, it doesn’t mean you should give up entirely.
Instead, look at different options and learn what you can change to prevent a problem from reoccurring. In my own business, I’ve found that it is essential to pay attention to the marketplace and evolve with the current textile trends and demands.
3. Revisit Your Mission
Why did you start this journey in the first place? Get back to your business plan, or vision board. Reflect on your initial purpose and make sure it is still meaningful. In analysing the advice of 46 entrepreneurs, Lisa Parmley of Business Bolts found that this is one of the most important things you can do to stay motivated and keep that passion alive.
Stay engaged with your purpose. Regularly question whether you’re on the right path. When you deviate, determine if that change is productive and worthwhile or whether you should return to your roots. Always have a plan and a way to measure success.
4. Know How To Really Measure Success
It’s difficult to stay motivated when you feel like progress isn’t being made. Setbacks can magnify that feeling, especially if you are putting in a lot of work without seeing any glimpse of the intended the result. However, the current moment might not be a true reflection of your progress.
Entrepreneur Jonathan Kettle contends that there are other ways to measure your movement towards success beyond the balance book. Consider taking a closer look at your exposure; the number of people you get to your store or website; the number of repeat customers you maintain; the efficiency of your manufacturing, or your position in the marketplace. All these are indicators of potential for long-term success, even if you aren’t there yet.
5. Grow A Support System
Network with other entrepreneurs and designers that you can look to for guidance. Everyone needs a little help sometimes and, according to Real Business there’s no shame in asking – hear hear! No one has all the answers all the time. Fortunately, the next best thing after knowing an answer yourself, is knowing where to get an answer.
Establishing a solid support system will mean that when problems arise without obvious solutions, you’ll have friends, mentors and advisors you can rely on to offer their own learning experiences or even just a new perspective. I’m incredibly proud to have set up a free meet-up group “Green Is The New Black” explicitly for this reason. Currently, our monthly networking events take place in London, but we’ve had lots of requests for meetup events further afield – so please do join and you’ll receive a notification of events out-of-town.
Don’t give up. Just because you made a mistake today doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it and turn that failure into a success. Messing up doesn’t mean the game is over. If it did, I never would have made it this far. But I did, and so can you.
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