The difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing. Let’s face it: you’re not going to win every time. An effective leader must be resilient because no one can win all the time. The pitfalls and troubles that come with owning and operating a business are immense. As the old saying goes, “If it were easy anyone could do it.” The fact of the matter is that it is not easy. It’s far from it.

Entrepreneurs must be willing to fail and try again — to learn how to come back after setbacks and, most importantly, to avoid making those same mistakes time after time. The last several years have tested our management skills, as disruptions and setbacks seem almost common — even among the most successful companies.

Resilience, according to Webster’s, is the ability to recover from change or misfortune and become successful again. This resilience is the ability to adapt, and it builds confidence in those leaders willing to get back up and try again. Successful people will tell you they’ve learned more from their failures than their successes. (See “Embracing Failure is the Key to Succeeding,” page 14). To quote Dale Carnegie, “The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.”

The adversity we deal with generally falls into two categories: circumstances outside our control; and those roadblocks we put in our own path. While the first category is literally outside our control and might include more business than we can handle due to the end-of-the-year rush to use FSA accounts, for example, or a downturn due to economic cycles, what about those factors actually in your control? What about the self-inflicted wounds?

One common regret of business owners is that they failed to view a specific line item as an investment rather than an expense. Investments involve a temporary outlay of cash or time. Good investments generate returns over and above the initial cost. For example, some business owners don’t invest in employee education and training. They can’t afford it, or they are concerned that once properly trained, the employee may leave for a different, higher paying job. The irony here is that if you don’t invest in your employee’s training, they are likely to pursue opportunities in companies that do offer educational programs.

After you ask yourself, “What if I train my employees and they leave?” Follow that up with, “What if I don’t train my employees and they stay?”

Marketing is another line item that is an investment, not an expense. Marketing and advertising generate sales and sales leads, and you would have significantly less business without them. Sometimes, new trends like social media stop us in our tracks. You might wonder if it’s just a fad or a lasting change worth the investment of time and money. Let your past experiences guide your decisions to help you make better choices.

Entrepreneurs take calculated risks. They view mistakes as learning opportunities. When they fall, they may feel sorry for themselves for a few minutes, but they pick themselves up and begin again with new perspectives.

Here’s hoping you learn from your mistakes…and they’re not too big!

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