I’ve had several opportunities recently to speak with people who were clearly teetering on the edge of business failure.  It’s a hard place to be, but it doesn’t have to be hopeless.

When you’re getting to that stage, here’s some advice which might help.  (But remember, I’m not a therapist!)

  1. Even though it’s very painful, remember that it’s rarely a life-and-death struggle.  It’s a business failure, which isn’t the same as people dying.  If you’re forced to shut the company down, it’s not the worst that could happen.
  2. An honorable exit is preferable to sending the company down in flames.  The hard part about this is figuring out when you’re at that threshold, when you’ve crossed the Point Of No Return.  Is IS hard – very hard – because you’ve probably never done this before.
  3. Cut yourself some slack.  You’re just human.  You made mistakes, yes, but everybody makes mistakes and has regrets.  You’ll be happier with yourself if you move on and don’t keep flogging a dead horse.
  4. Get some outside help, from friends, supporters, mentors, or even a coach.  They’ll help pull you back from the emotional brink a little, so you can behave rationally.
  5. Focus on the people.  Even if the business dies, the people remain.  They can either reject you as the person who ruined their life, or support you as the champion who tried to make a go of it but didn’t succeed.  The difference is how you cared for them through the darkest times.
  6. Hiding the bad news doesn’t help.  I’ve never seen a case where the rumor mill was actually better than what’s really going on – it’s usually far worse.  Yes, there’s things you can’t disclose yet, but keep those to an absolute minimum.  Don’t let the rumors take over and destroy the morale of your people.

I don’t know if this makes you feel better or worse in your own emotional journey.  Business failure is an incredible roller-coaster, similar to a divorce or the death of a loved one.  But I hope this can help.