Dealing with Small Business Challenges and Setbacks

7 small business setbacks and how to deal with them.


If there is anything a small business owner knows, it is that not everything will go well.

You will have setbacks, and this is why the entrepreneur is, and has to be, a resilient person.  You will face challenges early on as you first get going and that is seemingly the scariest because they can prevent you from even getting started.

But the challenges you face later will test you even more, including but not limited to the impact that external forces like weather, earthquakes, politics, war and big swings in the macro economy can have on your business.

Here are seven small business challenges and how to deal with them:

1.  What you need:

Resilience, determination, patience, flexibility, endurance: these are all traits a small business owner will need.   But above all you will need emotional strength.

You will need emotional strength and stability as much as your professional skills or financial backing, because many of the blows you receive will be felt personally.

Employees will stab you in the back, people you thought were friends will turn on you unexpectedly, clients will dump you for no reason, you may lose business you thought you had in the bag.

So you will have to balance those events out with unexpected wins, people being especially nice or appreciative.  So both good and bad things will happen to you and you can’t go crazy happy or crazy sad.

You have to stay steady, you have to keep your calm, and you have to trust in yourself.

2.  It isn’t easy:

To say the least the life of an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart.

You have to be a pretty solid person.  But even solid people clearly need to have emotional support.

This can come from your friends and family.  Having someone to talk to about your professional life in a personal way can be very important, not the least of which is having access to a second or even a third point of view.

But this emotional support can come from other sources, such as a mentor, your peers, and if you don’t have access to these, it might not be a bad idea to go out and get it, perhaps in the form of professional help.

If Tony Soprano, the ultimate tough guy, needed a psychologist, you can let yourself admit you need help.

3.  Ups and downs:

Business will have its own life – ups and downs, wins and losses.

But some of these events can have a significant emotional impact – a loss can be a fierce personal blow, particularly when you lose projects to a competitor you don’t respect, or when you really needed a win at a particular moment in time to help stabilize your business, to prevent layoffs or to pay back loans.

A win can mean having to invest to hire or add equipment and that can have its own emotional perils because you can start to feel stretched thin and over-exposed.

Though all of this you have to accept the ups and downs as part of what you took on when you opened your business.  It comes with the territory.

The secrets to survival include not making too much of a win and not crying too hard when you lose.

If you took on the mission of starting a small business, it’s because you believe enough in yourself (and what you do) to expect that you could succeed.  It doesn’t mean you will, but no win should make you think you are the Queen of the Universe and no loss should make you feel like you are dirt.

Next- Small business challenges #4 through #7

Carlos Garcia
Carlos Garcia
Carlos E. Garcia, was born to Mexican immigrant parents, grew up in East Los Angeles and attended Pomona College, UC Berkeley and National University (BA, MA and MBA respectively).  He has over thirty years of experience in the field of US Hispanic consumer research, twenty one years at the helm of his own company, Garcia Research.  Most recently  SVP at GfK: Knowledge Networks, where he headed up their Hispanic research efforts. He's gone full circle and now back at the helm of Garcia Research, a Hispanic market and Multicultural-focused research firm. Website

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