Failure is hard. And for anything you are emotionally vested in, it can be demoralising, confidence deflating and just downright heart breaking.

To many women their small business is not just a ‘business’, but it is ‘their baby’. The small business owner can often be very emotionally attached to their business that failure, of any sort, is gut-wrenchingly difficult to deal with and it can also be very hard to separate yourself from the failure.

Failure is often an important step to reaching success and theoretically we know that we can personally grow from the experience, but that doesn’t stop failure from hurting like hell. Learning from, and overcoming failure, can take time, especially for failures that touches us deeply.

No one succeeds without risking failure

Here are 5 tips to help you manage failure as a small business owner:

1. Redefine success and failure

The definition of failure is “lack of success”. Who defines success? You. Who defines failure? You. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and expect too much. What you see as failure, someone else can see success. Assess your goals, are you being too aggressive? Are you working toward your goals, or someone else’s goals and expectations? Maybe it’s time to revaluate your goals and set new one’s accordingly. (This is not an excuse to give up too quickly though, it’s just that sometimes failure can highlight we are not on the right path).

2. Reframe failure

Don’t get so caught up in your ‘failure’, take a moment to step back and see where you have been successful, even if you didn’t achieve your desired outcome. Shift your perspective from negative to positive. Focus on what you DID achieve rather than what you did not achieve. What did you do right? What went well? Where did you succeed?

3. Learn from your mistakes

Replace the word failure with ‘mistake’. All of us at some time have made a mistake. What is important is that we learn from our mistakes.  Look at the mistake analytically, without emotion. What went wrong? What could you have done differently that may have produced a better outcome? What have you learnt from this? Does the responsibility of the mistake lie with you, with someone else, or no one? (This question is not asked in order to blame yourself or someone else, it is merely to understand what happened to try and develop strategies to prevent it from happening again). Analyse, so you don’t repeat your mistakes!

4. Forgive yourself

Forgive yourself, we all make mistakes. Don’t let failure define who you are. Failure is merely an event that has happened. Because you’re not successful the first, second or even third time around, does not mean ‘you’ are a failure. Remember, Thomas Edison did not give into failure when he was inventing the light bulb and I just love his quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Recognise failure as normal and the insights from our failures is often the key to our success.

5. Make a plan

Don’t give up too easily after failure. The best way to move forward is to make a plan. When you plan, make sure you incorporate strategies to reduce any known issues that could result in you not achieving your goals. (Of course, you will have identified some of these in step 3, ‘learn from your mistakes’). Apply your newfound insights going forward. Your plans should be realistic, it is good to stretch yourself, but don’t go overboard with unrealistic goals that will mostly likely end in failure. Planning helps you work toward success.

Sometimes, for the bigger failures and when you are knocked down hard, we do need to allow ourselves the time to grieve. Don’t spend too much time ruminating on your loss though and never give up hope.