Established, Just Launched, Mentoring

When things don’t go to plan

Success and how you measure it will be different for everyone – it’s a very personal thing and changes at different stages of our life. It’s not something we openly discuss as usually it’s tied up with deeply personal values. The question is, when starting up your business do you know what success means to YOU personally, and then your business?

In life not everything goes to plan and business life is no different. Try to take every day as it comes and deal with the highs and lows as they come along – not worrying about what that looks like in six or ten years. It’s tough to stop comparing yourself with others – especially in our social media based culture.

Remind yourself every day what success means to you. Entrepreneur and Chair of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, Lynne Cadenhead, says: “I have some motivation reminders that really relate to me that I surround myself with at work and home. Some are on post-it notes around my screen, some are gifts or cards and ‘thank-you’s from people along the journey – whatever works for you it’s great to remind ourselves of what WE HAVE achieved as much as what’s still to come.”

Although it can seem lonely at times, you are absolutely not alone. There are so many amazing people who, having walked this journey, are only too happy to help or point you in the direction of someone who can. You just need to ask – don’t be embarrassed or feel you should already know this.  As a very wise woman once said: “You don’t know what you don’t know” – so find someone who does!

We asked some women for their tips for the times when things don’t feel like they’re going according to plan. Here’s what they said:

“In the down moments I remind myself that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. A work-in-progress, not perfect but persistently working towards achieving my personal and business vision every day, every week and every month.”

“Believe, believe, believe, even if it feels impossible at this moment in time.  Anything is possible.”

“Take the opportunities that present themselves – just do it.  It might not be the expected that comes out of it but something good will happen.”

“Talk about yourself and others positively, be kind, steer clear of negative people.”

“Research the market and test your idea to destruction before investing a penny. Most new businesses fail because of a lack of objectivity on the part of the founder.”

“You will get results where you put your focus. Don’t take your eye from the prize. Think big. Take your most ambitious goal and double it. Women entrepreneurs often underestimate themselves.”

“Find a small group of like-minded entrepreneurs who will support you on your journey. In turn, be generous with your help and advice to others.”

“Pace yourself. You are in it for the long haul. It’s easy for early enthusiasm to lead to burnout. Take time out. Switch off. Spend quality time with family.”

“Celebrate your successes. It’s so easy to focus on the problems and forget the successes. Take a quarterly audit and reward yourself for goals achieved.”

“I seem to have lost my capacity for a***-kissing and polite compliance. I have gained a frank openness that I suspect some people find rather alarming!”

“Woman Up. If you have ever given birth, put rambunctious children to bed, got through a broken heart or bought and paid for a bikini wax – you know resilience. I’m not even talking about the really tough stuff; like losing a loved one, getting a diagnosis for a disease you didn’t see coming, having a business fail.”

“One of the quickest ways to create heart palpitations for me is to compare myself to all the people I perceive as my competitors. It’s like a reminder of all that the social media I should be doing, all the places I should be speaking, all the clients I should be working with – but should is a completely unhelpful word. Instead ask – ‘Compared to yesterday, do I know more, am I more comfortable in my skin, am I more confident?'”

“But there’s real confidence that comes from getting older. Plus, comparing yourself to others and worrying about what they are saying about you is exhausting. As Shirley Maclaine said: ‘In your 20’s you worry about all that people are saying about you, in your forties you stop worrying about what people are saying about you and in your 60’s you realise they were never talking about you in the first place.'”

“Remind yourself of how much you know now that you didn’t know a few years ago. You’ve had lots of experience, some of which you wouldn’t choose to go through again, but that ultimately gives you more wisdom and resilience.”

“Follow your own path.  Never be afraid of your vision no matter the size. Certainly take as much advice as you can especially from those who have recently travelled the road before you but ultimately you make the final choice and stand by your decision.”

“Surround yourself with excellence. Always be willing to learn from others with more knowledge, skills and experience. Have a network of purpose. Don’t just go to networking events because you can, make sure there is value and people of value in what you are attending.  Relationships are crucial in business especially the slow burn ones.”

“Tackle that imposter syndrome. Yes, you. We all have it at times, even some of the most advanced and successful business women I know have faced it.  Recognise it, embrace it and find a way to move beyond it.”

“Challenge the status quo. Be fearless in challenging the rules.  Especially when you come up against policy and procedures that are meant to be there to be supportive but actually are blockers to progress, especially those that hinder diversity, waste prevention and inclusive growth.  Be solution focused and use that to your advantage and mind the blind spots.”

“Laugh. As often and as much as you can. Surround yourself with people who are determined and focused but also know how to laugh. It can be a tough gig at times and you need the laughter in times of adversity. Perspective is everything.”

“Know what is important to your customer. We think we know what our customer will need – but you’re wrong! Their primary need is crucial to nail, but it’s essential you understand how they want that delivered and the hurdles or barriers you face.”

“Grow the team with people who compliment your own skill set. In the first few years I recruited people with a similar skill set to myself. I was focussed on the clinical aspects rather than how I was going to develop the technology and sell the tool. But as time progressed the number of skills required grew exponentially. This was a clinical product but to succeed we needed software, investment, implementation, sales skills.” 

“Be tenacious We all want to be an overnight success but most companies take many years to achieve this.”


Sign up for free to access all our content, to receive the latest articles and join our network of businesswomen across Scotland and beyond. Get off to the best start for you and your business.

Womens Business Centre
Womens Business Centre
More content by