Turn loss into an innovation opportunity


Discover How Action and Innovation Helps You Overcome Loss


Restaurants have really felt the sting of covid. In normal times, you set your business model up in thirds (1/3 cost of goods sold, 1/3 overhead costs, and 1/3 profit). The new and constantly changing capacity rules due to covid means that venues need to abandon this old advice and become innovative.


Encountering failure and loss can be an extremely demoralizing and daunting experience. Not only will you be reeling from the disappointment, but if you let the feeling stew in your heart and mind for too long, you may also develop the fear of trying again. After all, what if you fail again? Maybe out of the fear of failure, you decide to lower your standards or risk threshold.

At times like these, it’s important to remember an old Irish proverb – you’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.


One of the best ways of coping with loss is to get back up and think of innovative ways to tackle new challenges. If you can still hold onto your business, you can tackle them by rethinking the profit formula. If not, maybe it’s time to launch a new business.


Achieving a small goal

You can start by making a new small goal and going all out to achieve it. For example, you might decide to extend your business hours and spread the staffing costs along the long hours so you can serve more people. Maybe you shift some of your staff into delivery roles for your local area. These are small, innovative steps that don’t cost you any more, but it helps to reduce the shrinkage.


If you are an employee instead of a business owner, you aren’t powerless. You can suggest innovations to your boss, or better yet, if your hours are reduced, you have an opportunity to try something new in your off time.


While this is a small win, it will lift your spirits and show you that you can still win. One failure doesn’t mean it’s all over. So, set a small goal that you can quickly achieve and celebrate.


Identifying what went wrong

The next step is to identify what went wrong before and caused you to fail. By analyzing the failure without getting emotional, you’ll be able to see where problems occurred. I touched on this in the last blog post. Since most of my career has focused on nonprofit fund development, I’ll use a fundraising example. Ask anyone. Fundraising isn’t hard, but it is a numbers game. For every major win, there are at least nine losses. That’s why the average fundraiser only stays in a job for 18 months. I’ve overcome this feeling of burnout by looking at every loss from a third-person point of view. If I experienced a particularly painful rejection, I would step away mentally for a little while to regroup. (that’s why fundraisers often have their own office space instead of working in open plans).


As a business leader, if you are also the person responsible for fund development (whether it is for-profit or nonprofit), your losses are much more visible, and you will feel judgment coming from all around you. Think of how you can put some space between yourself and others until you get the wind back in your sails.


Sometimes it might help to consult a friend or mentor. In many cases, when you’re too close to the problem, you can’t see the forest for the trees.


Getting a fresh pair of eyes on the problems just might shed new light on them.


Making a new game plan

Once you know what went wrong, it’s just a matter of fixing these issues and trying again. You might take a new approach or change your goal a little. It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve.


Don’t dwell on the loss. If you do, it can quickly become a situational anxiety disorder. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night reliving the mistake, one way to overcome it is to get out of bed and write down your concern in your calendar for a specific time when you can sort things out, and then go back to bed.


What’s important is that you make a new plan that’s well thought out and which factors in the earlier lapses in judgment – only with corrections now. You can then proceed with experience and in a more intelligent manner.


Taking the next move ASAP

Once the new plan is ready, do take action on it as soon as possible. Hemming and hawing because you’re fearful will hold you back. So will overplanning and worrying too much.

Paralysis by analysis will occur, and your progress will reach a gridlock. Millions of people have given up on their dreams because a single failure made them fearful. So, smash through your fears and go ahead and take action.


Using the last example of a major fundraising loss, just pick up the phone and schedule your next meeting. Maybe instead of asking for a major gift, you can innovate a new online fundraising platform. After all, your pain point is the same feeling that other fundraisers feel. Rather than giving up, can you innovate a new solution to remove the pain?

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