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Overcoming a Setback Within Your Business

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keyboard-621831_1280Entrepreneurs are no strangers to failure. In fact, failing or encountering a setback is almost an inevitable part of becoming a successful business owner.

Unfortunately, a setback isn’t necessarily easy to get through. When you’re facing a problem or issue that you cannot find a solution to, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While it’s simply enough to tell yourself that you’re not the only one who has encountered a setback, it’s important to remember that there is always an answer if you open your mind to all of the possibilities.

Let Go, Move On

“Set up the business in 1995, started sales in 1996, and the Thai Baht currency crashed by 50% in 1997. Then, in August 1998, my eldest sister called to say her cancer had returned and she passed within two weeks after. I stayed with her family for a month, then returned to Thailand for work.

We asked this question and it helped guide our actions: “If we just bought the business and today was our first day on the job, what would we do?” The point is, that an answer has all kinds of baggage related to his/her business; in an emergency, you have to let that all go.”

Andrew Stotz

Co-founder, CoffeeWORKS Company Limited

Change Things Up

“When the recession hit in 2008/2009, many of our clients couldn’t afford to renew their contracts and many companies were slashing their marketing budgets, so new clients were really hard to come by.

To make it through that difficult stretch, it took out-of-the-box thinking and completely retooling how we offer our services. We went from having 3 or 4 set types of campaigns to a completely a la carte menu where companies could pick and choose only the services they needed most.

Don’t be afraid to change up the status quo. If things aren’t working one way, come up with a new method or plan until you find the best fit for your company.”

Erika Montgomery

CEO/Chief Publicist, Three Girls Media, Inc.


Do Some Research; Why am I having a setback?

“About 4 years ago, my law firm went through a 2-year financial drought. I experienced a 60% drop in revenues and I was barely holding on. It was difficult emotionally as well, and since I was the breadwinner in my household, I was struggling to pay for both business and household expenses. At first I thought it was just a matter of my own failures, but after speaking with others, I realized it was happening to everyone.

I would suggest to do some real research and find out why you are having a setback. Don’t assume you know the reason. If I had thrown more money into marketing, it wouldn’t have mattered. After finding the problem, I considered parts that were still thriving, and began offering different services.”

Shahara Wright, Esq.

Speaker and Business Development Strategist, Business Lawyer, The CEO Effect, LLC


Clean Up Your Employees

“Recognize that letting go of underperforming employees may be the best thing you can do for them. I’ve had to make tough choices that included firing people who had become my friends. In every case, our business results improved dramatically, while those I had to release moved on to positions that better suit them.”

Robert Sprague

President & CEO, PCI

Remain Adaptable

“Soon after we launched Global Shopal, major players like Amazon and Alibaba both began to take actions in the same market by making greater and greater numbers of U.S. products accessible to Chinese consumers on their platforms. Due to severe competition pressure and lack of clear value proposition, though we had some initial positive feedbacks from the market, I have to admit the first venture’s business model wouldn’t sustain the success and this major setback gave much frustration and pressure to me and my team.

Instead of giving up and giving in, our team began to analyze the market and begin a new business model. My advice would be to remain relentlessly adaptable to change. Everything changes FAST in every aspect; building a startup requires the very sensitivity to the market change and consumer behavior.”

Alyna Deng

Founder, Global Shopal

Skip the Pity Party

“A few years ago, we were doing well. One of our products took off in sales, so we focused even more on selling it. In short, we put all of our eggs in one basket. Then, the manufacturer we had committed so much time with decided to part ways with us. We realized quickly that feeling sorry for ourselves was getting us nowhere. We instantly put our business into overdrive. We did the opposite of playing it safe. We had to, we knew it, and we were committed to making it work.

Know absolutely why you started your business. If you know, deep down, why you started your business and what your goals are, you can skip the pity party and get back to work.

Ryan Hulland

Vice President, Co-owner, MonMan

Stay Positive when facing a setback

“Being in the World Trade Center on 9-11, soon after I started my business, I forged a security-first mindset that has made our business successful through ups and downs. Some of our customers disappeared that day and our business plan changed to focus on the survival needs of businesses.

My tip is to be flexible when a major setback occurs and look for the opportunity in the adversity.”

Carl Mazzanti

CEO, eMazzanti Technologies


Is it the Marketing?

“We spend a lot of time (and money) researching [a new] service and putting it all together, only to find that when we started marketing it, no one was buying. Why? Because we were selling to the wrong market! People who already had large, complex websites didn’t want to abandon them for smaller ones. We thought they would but we we were wrong.

When it’s not working… it’s often because the marketing is all wrong. We learned that we needed to be selling to those who can refer to us. Concentrate on the marketing and sales as much as the product and service, and above all be PATIENT. If you build it they will come… ONLY if you market it to the right people… and keep marketing it… and have the patience and perseverance to keep going.”

Alan Canton

Managing Partner, NewMedia Create

A Risk Can Save a Business

“When we first began the site, we charged a one-time fee of $39.95. However, we soon realized that this pricing method was very unwise in 2009, when the recession strongly affected our company and almost caused us to go out of business. Thankfully, we were able to overcome by implementing a new strategy.

Don’t be afraid to completely change your business strategy. Although you may think the possibility of revamping your company may bring about dangerous risks, it may actually rescue your business and result in success.”

Ian Aronovich

Co-founder & CEO,

Ask for Help

“I started my law business in November 2002. The business was poised to break through some significant milestones in 2013 when my father was suddenly diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia. As the only child of a divorced parent, I became the primary caretaker for many months until he could return home temporarily. And even then was available for treatment dates and setbacks.

I went from working 50+ hours a week still in growth mode to 10-15 hours a week in survival mode. My father passed in August 2014 and by the end of that year, business bottomed out down 40%. But, everyone stayed employed. Clients were cared for. No one missed a paycheck.

Things I learned along the way? Seek help and support. Crisis is awful, but it’s yet another process where someone else had already gone through it. There’s no need to recreate the wheel. There are business coaches who have a niche in helping entrepreneurs navigate personal crisis while maintaining their business.”

Tracey A. L. Ingle

Founder, Ingle Law

Trial and Error

“For a while, I thought that we had to pay major dollars in advertising to stand the chance against our main competitor, Legalzoom. We spent so much on google advertising that we were not making a profit and I was afraid we would have to close doors- major setback. To overcome this we made a decision to try to pull those ads and see what happens to our website traffic. To our delight, we found out that we brought in just as much traffic to the website organically through social media and my contributed content that we pulled those adds indefinitely and immediately saw a 30% increase on the bottom line.

I suggest other small business owners find what works for them through trial and error and once they see what works, stick with it and they will survive and succeed.”

Allison Sinclair

Founder & Principal, CorpNet


Beware of Complacency

“Don’t read your own headlines, drink your own kool-aid or be content in general.

We ran through $1.2 million in funding before realizing the original business model wasn’t working. If you keep an eye on the revenue, P&Ls and truly stay balanced when things seems great or awful, you’ll best serve the long term future of your company.”

Jessica Mah

CEO & Founder, inDinero


Carl Mazzanti is Co-Founder and President of eMazzanti Technologies, Microsoft’s four time Partner of the Year and one of the premier IT consulting services for businesses throughout the New York metropolitan area and internationally. Carl and his company manage over 400 active accounts ranging from professional services firms to high-end global retailers.

eMazzanti is all about delivering powerful, efficient outsourced IT services, such as computer network management and troubleshooting, managed print, PCI DSS compliance, green computing, mobile workforce technology, information security, cloud computing, and business continuity and disaster recovery.  

Carl Mazzanti is also a frequent business conference speaker and technology talk show guest and contributor at Microsoft-focused events, including frequent prominent roles at the Microsoft Inspire (Worldwide Partner Conference / WPC).

Carl, a serial Entrepreneur, gives back to the community through Entrepreneur teaching engagements at Georgetown University, the company’s ocean wildlife conservation effort, the Blue Project, and Tree Mazzanti.



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