How To Deal With Setbacks

Deal w/Setbacks

Table of Contents

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Hey guys,

Sat 27 Mar

I don’t remember the last time I wrote a blog at this time of the day, but I’ve not written anything for a couple of days and I feel out of sorts.

The reason I’ve not written anything also is what I’m going to discuss with you today.

It’s been a difficult couple of months for me.

It’s probably not a surprise given I’m trying to move out of day-to-day runnings of Pearl Lemon and that is leading to all manner of challenges.

By August, my aim is to get the agency to a place where I get out of all day-to-day involvement and just have team members who run the business as well as do the sales.

Getting the business to this place, however, means going backward as well.

It’s painful right now and when your revenue falls through the sky and your costs increase it’s challenging. Not to mention your team’s worries about future security and the like.

So with all of this in mind, I wanted to talk about how I’m trying to deal with the ‘growing pains’ of trying to free myself from the business – even if that means it just seems like I’m going backward.

With this in mind – let’s get into it.

Expect Pain

Expect Pain

Perhaps it’s an obvious thing to say – but it needs reiterating.

If you’re attempting to do something meaningful – expect setbacks. Expect it to be hard. Expect it to be painful.

This is the truth of growth in general – it is literally littered with stepbacks and missteps and all of the challenges that will come with trying to do something you’ve never done before.

So just expect the journey to be painful.

It’s sucked for me to see client cancelations, revenue dropping, clients unhappy team members questioning the future, and more.

Stay Positive For Your Team

Stay Positive

If you’re the captain of your ship – it’s critically important you stay strong for your company.

I’ve had real worrying moments these last few months – and yet at the other side of it – I’ve seen that my business hasn’t collapsed.

Regardless of what happens, I’m staying positive and looking at the upside of this great ‘education’ I’m receiving through all of the failures.

This will rub off on your team.

We had a client on a £4,900 contract, a £4,000 contract both cancel for different reasons. That’s a lot of money that just disappeared and naturally, it gets everyone down.

The positive thing about these things happening though – is that after it happens a couple of times – and then you win new clients – you realise that in fact, it’s NOT the end of the world AT ALL – and that you too can recover from almost ANY setback

Take Ultimate Responsibility


During this period where things have been plummeting south – I think at times I’ve started blaming others.

It’s a little depressing to see my immaturity there.

Just today my head of outbound sales told me over email (because he was nervous about saying it on the phone) that he felt very anxious, tense and it was impacting his personal life.

That sucks!

And it’s my fault that he feels that way because I’m not supporting him enough.

That’s one of multiple issues – and I see I need to step up to the plate more and not just pay ‘lip service’ to ‘taking ownership’ – which is what happens 90% of the time.

Taking ownership is doing the following:

Learn From Setbacks

Learn From Setbacks

If you don’t learn – a setback can quickly dissolve into abject failures which can really inhibit success.

And so in the case of my head of outbound cold calling – I need to think about why he felt like that – correlate it with my own destructive behaviour patterns and seek to modify them one by one.

Looking at the quick wins, putting a process in place to support those quick wins – and thus ensuring that it won’t happen again.

This would REALLY be taking ownership!

Learning from your setback is the best way to avoid repeat failures – something that demonstrates zero progress.

Relish The Criticism


This is an extremely challenging thing to do.

I mean who likes criticism?

No one does.

And yet – it’ll be the best education you can ever receive.

If a client has hired you for a specific service and then is unhappy with you – please please seek out all of the things they’re unhappy with in as much detail as possible.

And then go ahead and start working to change it all.

The one upside of having things go south over and over is that you learn quickly from it (or at least you’re meant to).

Much like product development – I believe a lot of your time with dealing with setbacks comes from improving your operational capabilities and understanding of delivery (at least in my case).

And in many respects – try as you might – there’s no way to ‘shortcut’ that process.

Take Care Of Yourself Physically and Mentally

Physically and Mentally

So whilst you deal with setbacks and failures – it’s also the case that you may start letting go of your health and all.

Don’t in a word.

Scheduling time away from work, time with people you love, time spent DOING things you love is massively important.

It’s easy to get sick of something and then want to have nothing to do with it because you just get burnt out.

So it’s the usual suspects that are important here:

  • Eat well
  • Sleep well
  • Exercise
  • Spend time with friends and family

Accept it quickly and move on

Accept it Quickly

This is also something to be mindful of – e.g writing about those clients whom I lost is definitely difficult…

And it’s difficult because this is typically my process:

Realise specifically what all of the key things you can improve the next time around are – and make sure those are incorporated as you move forward…

And that’s it.

Dwelling upon disappointment is pretty much the worst thing that you can do.

Make Sure You Manage Your Blind Spots

Blind Spots

Recognising what your weaknesses are and putting processes in place to make sure they are being managed is important.

An example (I have yet to solve) – is that I don’t have a proper due diligence or ‘checking’ process in place to make sure everyone is executing work correctly.

As a consequence we sometimes send out bad stuff to clients – so I need to recognise that I’m not going to be catching all of this – and rather need to have a dual-layer of checks.

Someone who pays attention to the details and engages in critical thinking is really important.

This is something I need to manage

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Less Emotions And More Logic, More Detail

Less Emotions

I’ve really realised the more I objectively approach my failures, the better I tend to do moving forward.

Anytime I get emotional about it, it inhibits my progress and can suck the life out of me.

This is not to say that I don’t feel anything – but rather I try to process how I feel – and then move into objectivity.

What went wrong?

What could I do better?

What are the quick wins?

What will take time?

Always Push Forward

Push Forward

A little bit like my determination to keep up with this blog to the extent that it’s now 6 pm on a Saturday evening and here I am typing away…

You must consistently play offense.

My friend Ross talks a lot about the importance of growing your topline revenue – and how this is the best way to ‘save money’.

And equally – no matter what the setbacks are – you must aggressively keep pushing forward.

It’s incredible what brute force can do for your success.

Learn What You Need To – Don’t Dwell On The Minutiae

Don't Dwell

This is ironic given that I said my blind spot is not being detail orientated. But I think this ‘broadly’ is the right way to be.

It’s a combination in some sense.

Let me give you a practical example.

We had the £4,900 lead generation client that blew up.

Here were the mistakes:

  • We weren’t detailed enough with our targeting
  • We were unable to source phone numbers accurately
  • We should not have used his LinkedIn account
  • We need to look at using Zoominfo for lead generation
  • Our reporting wasn’t accurate enough

These are big things that we can improve quickly – and these are the takeaways we are ‘taking’ with us moving forward.

Manage Your Self-Talk


If you’ve suffered an extreme setback – don’t think it’s a reason to sh*t on yourself.

Speak positively to yourself, be constructive and pragmatic and make sure that you tell yourself that you believe in yourself.

What’s been interesting about my latest setbacks is that it’s actually made me feel better about myself because I’ve seen that I’m perhaps stronger than I thought I was in the face of all of the challenges we’re currently working through.

Focus On What You Can Control


A good example of this would be me getting down about the fact that one of our clients that canceled did so because they weren’t happy with using LinkedIn as a channel for growth.

And this really being something they figured out one month into the campaign rather than pre-launch.

Something like this is not something I focus upon because this change was outside of my control.

Things INSIDE of your control are those you should seek to fix as quickly and effectively as you can.

Know You’re Stronger Than You Think


Almost everyone without exception underestimates their resilience.

You can deal with just about any setback that gets thrown at you!

Humans are built to last it’s important to keep this in mind as you deal with a crisis or similar situations.

Setbacks make you impervious to future setbacks

Future Setbacks

This is the beautiful thing also about going through failure.

It makes you worry less and less about challenges that come along the way when you’re moving forward.

Now, if I lose £20,000 of revenue in a month – it wouldn’t phase me at all because I’ve seen this happen a couple of times and I’ve seen us recover.

This is the power of setbacks

Final Thoughts


It’s been a tough time lately – dealing with all of the challenges that currently stand in front of us at Pearl Lemon – but it all serves as a powerful education.

And that’s the value of coping with setbacks – there’s nothing like micro-failures to help you learn.