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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Take the rough with the smooth

Hard knocks along the road to success all part of the package for any entrepreneur who is in it for the long haul

There is no doubt that entrepreneurship has become the field of choice for many around the world.

Heck, it even sounds cool to say that you are an entrepreneur. Who would not want to be their own boss, and work at their own set hours? That is what got me into the field the first place.

When I first jumped aboard the entrepreneurship wagon seven years ago, I thought it would be one gradual ride to success, with the money automatically wired to my bank account, and everything would work itself out while I enjoyed my much-deserved beach vacation. Sure, along the road that is what will happen, after countless hours of dedication, crying (yes crying will be a frequent visitor) and with a strong belief system.

We read about the success stories of many entrepreneurs out there, and that gives us the sort of push we need to go and start our business.

But what many start-up entrepreneurs do not account for is the numerous setbacks they will face along their journey. There is a reason why so few entrepreneurs make it to the top. But those who have done so got it right and knew how to deal with setbacks.

The thing is that when faced with a setback, many start-up entrepreneurs associate that with a final defeat, and feel that is their cue to give it up, save their money and relieve themselves from the headache. However, it is important to always keep in mind that even the world’s leading companies deal with setbacks at one point or another.

I remember at one point I was so excited after I had nailed two big accounts for my marketing and branding agency.

We signed the contracts and were due to start in a couple of weeks. Both of them suffered from complications that delayed the commencement of our project for a few months, and that frustrated me because I had everything planned to start. Things like that happen all the time. Here are a few ways to deal with setbacks:

Stay calm

When we are hit with a major setback, our mind’s automatic response is to worry. Your team will be looking at you for direction, and if you are worried that will just mess with the vibe in your company. Your issue could be hopeless, but if you are calm you will be able to think clearly and arrive at a solution quickly.

Keep going

Find out the reason behind your setback but do not dwell on it. It is such a waste of time and will hinder your company’s progress. Focus on the next project. If you lost a major client, work on attracting the next one. Join networking events and reconnect with colleagues to see where opportunities lie.

Reach out for advice

If you have a mentor, then discuss how you can overcome this obstacle. If you do not, reach out to peers in the field or similar fields and brainstorm solutions together. Go online and read about other entrepreneurs’ experiences and how they overcame similar obstacles.

In the midst of the storm, see the opportunity

Personally, it was during the worst times I was inspired to improve my work and develop my business.

Regardless of what happens, know that you are on the right track. When you think of the road to success, do not imagine it as a straight road, with the desired target at the end.

Think of it as a long path with an interesting design, and one where you need your seatbelt on. It is more of a path that goes uphill, downhill, with sudden U-turns, and a congested roundabout. Having that image in mind will help you to maintain your calm.

From my personal entrepreneurship experience, I believe that having the right mindset will help you greatly as you deal with setbacks.

As one of my friends argues, it would be good if we could stop them before they even happen? If you can see it coming then that is great, you will be able to build your defence mechanism.

But if you are unable to, keep in mind that setbacks are blessings more than a curse, providing opportunities to grasp and lessons to be learnt.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi