11 ways to reset and move on after a business setback


Every company faces setbacks from time to time. Whether it’s a campaign that didn’t perform as well as you expected or a product that suffered major production delays, setbacks seem to be part of the everyday entrepreneurial experience. What really makes a difference is how you react to it.

Here, 11 members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs share how they react when they experience setbacks in their business and what steps they take to effectively reset and move forward.


1. Lean into failure

We take every team member involved in a retrospective and encourage everyone to dump every failure they can think of on a board. Once that happens, the group sheds the ego and can learn from the failure, which is the only thing you can do once it happens. The opportunity to learn through failure is the most influential growth engine for any company. – Anthony C Johnson, Stellium.co

2. Think and identify the root cause

When faced with a setback, I prefer to step back to think and analyze the situation. By identifying the root cause and learning from our mistakes, we turn challenges into opportunities for growth. This approach allows us to adapt and implement new strategies, ensuring continuous improvement. Embracing a resilient mindset and focusing on lessons learned fosters a strong, agile team that can effectively navigate adversity and lead Velvet Caviar to long-term success. In a dynamic business environment, resilience and adaptability are key to success in the midst of challenges. – Michelle Aaron, Velvet caviar

3. Analyze data and evaluate individuals

Take a two-pronged approach: analysis of data and evaluation of individuals responsible for key performance indicators. First, collect and analyze data at every level of the organization. Identify areas that are costing the business significantly with little return on investment, make informed decisions about where to cut back, and invest more resources in growth drivers. Second, evaluate individuals associated with underperforming metrics. Understand why this happened and whether it is due to lack of training or poor performance. Address the cause, provide necessary support, or take disciplinary action as necessary. This move creates a culture of accountability, enabling the company to recover from setbacks and maintain a growth trajectory. – Jinny Hyojin Oh, WANDR

4. Keep a positive attitude

I know setbacks are a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey and it’s how I deal with them that defines me. By staying optimistic and persistent, I can overcome any obstacle that comes my way. Maintaining a positive attitude is effective for several reasons. First, it helps me maintain a sense of resilience in the face of adversity. Instead of giving up or getting discouraged, I can stay motivated and focused on finding a solution to the problem. Second, a positive attitude is contagious. If I can maintain a positive outlook, it can inspire and motivate others around me. This is especially important when working with a team, as negative attitudes can spread quickly and lead to a toxic work environment. – Sujay Pawar, CartFlows

5. Look at the full picture

The first thing I do when our business faces adversity is quickly zoom out to see the full picture and not only solve the problem, but see the opportunities that exist so that we can take advantage of that situation. It has been effective for the past 14 years. It made me realize that every recession, attack, or business problem came with something good at the end of the day. – Alexandru Stan, tekpon

6. Check in with your mental state

When I experience a setback in business, I take care of my mental state first – my motivation and confidence in my abilities. It’s important to stay positive and remind yourself of your bigger purpose, the impact you’re trying to achieve and that this setback is just feedback so you can improve. It is also very helpful to re-read thank you letters from your customers or even positive Google reviews of your business to remind yourself of your past success and that your work matters. This usually cheers me up, helps me refocus my attention on my mission and build a growth mindset. – Feruza Jamalova, Sobirov’s law firm

7. Take a moment to pause

Pause and reflect! Running a business is a game of go, go and go. However, it’s important to step back and reflect when there are setbacks. You can do this by going offline, asking the team to take a breather or simply focusing on other things besides the setback. In those moments of reflection, you begin to understand that some setbacks can be a function of your product, others a function of your strategy, and more. Once you are in a much better headspace, you can re-energize and make the right decision together with the team. – Paul-Miki Akpablie, Akos Technologies Inc.

8. Choose a growth mindset

Setbacks are an inevitable part of the business journey. While it can be daunting to encounter obstacles, I’ve learned that the best way to handle setbacks is to adopt a growth mindset and approach them as learning opportunities. One thing I do when I face a setback is to step back and analyze the situation objectively. I ask myself questions like: What went wrong? What could I have done differently? What can I learn from this experience? Thinking about these questions helps me identify the cause of the setback and develop a plan to avoid similar problems in the future. Finally, I remind myself of the big picture and focus on the long-term vision for my business. It is important not to let setbacks distract me from my goals and to stay motivated. – Kelly Kercher, K3 technology

9. Keep perspective

Acknowledging the setback and keeping it in perspective is key to moving forward. It’s not productive to dwell on what went wrong. Spending time figuring out how to fix the problem and making sure it doesn’t return is essential. – Evan Nierman, Red banyan

10. Take full responsibility

Taking full responsibility is effective because it helps me avoid blaming others or outside factors for the setback. Instead, I can focus on what I can do to improve the situation and move forward. I also reset my vision by reviewing my goals and objectives to move forward. This helps me stay focused on what’s important and avoid getting sidetracked by setbacks. – Renato Agrella, Acera Consulting

11. Slow down

Slowing down is the hardest thing I can do. However, when you slow down your throw, you’re already head and shoulders above everyone else. Reacting immediately or reflexively rarely results in a good choice. Once I’ve slowed down, I look at the situation from every angle to determine where I could have done something different. Where did I ignore my intuition or stray from a firm value? Where did I think I was the exception instead of the rule? Both are incredibly effective because they are things you can control. You can control how quickly or slowly you react to a situation (and often your pace affects those around you) and you can hold yourself accountable and learn from a setback. Otherwise you are just putting out fires. – Mary Hogan, Red Branch media