Key to success

The way you act when you’re locked out of your home may tell a lot about your future business success


Have you ever locked yourself out of your apartment?

Left your bag on a train or forgot your passport on the way to the airport?

Such little “failures” happen to everyone. Although (usually) they’re not life-threatening and don’t put your financial situation at risk, the way you react to these moments of clumsiness may tell a lot about your likelihood to succeed as a business owner.


When you fall, learn and grow

If you blame yourself for leaving your keys in the apartment or for missing your flight, if you call yourself names, and keep lamenting about the amount you have to spend to re-book your trip or enter your home, you probably have a fixed mindset. You might not be ready to cope with failure, which is an inseparable part of life.

On the other hand, if you take time to consider what you could have done better, think about how to avoid similar situations in the future, and take actions to find a solution to your problem as soon as possible, you probably have a growth mindset.

And that’s an essential ingredient to run a successful (freelance) business.

In her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, Carol Dweck not only explained the main features of the growth and fixed mindset, but also analysed several companies that were led by CEOs with these two opposing attitudes. Willingness to learn, accept criticism, innovate, and embrace challenges helped to convert many poor businesses into the most resilient and successful brands (e.g. IBM). Similarly, leaders who constantly tried to prove their superiority, avoided negative feedback and drew no conclusions from their setbacks ruined even the most prosperous companies (e.g. Chrysler).

Adopting a growth mindset and helping your co-workers to think and act in the same way, is the key to success.


The art of a graceful fall

So, how to fall gracefully? How to make sure that you can learn from your business failures as much as possible? How to approach any mishap with a growth mindset?

Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Be prepared

In business, like in life, things rarely go smoothly. That’s why it’s wise to be ready for potential rejections and mistakes. You don’t need to draw up a meticulous risk management plan, but at least be mentally prepared for potential twists and turns.

Absolute belief in your constant good luck may shatter your dreams when tough times come (and they surely will).


2. Analyse and act

Whether you’ve lost a loyal customer or invested a large sum in a marketing campaign that didn’t work—step back and analyse what went wrong. Ask yourself why it happened. What can you do better next time to avoid similar situations? Maybe you can delegate your marketing to a more experienced team or improve your customer service? Maybe you had too much on your plate and failed to control every single process in your business?

Reevaluate your situation and implement new strategies. Ask for help and feedback to find the weak spot.


3. Practice detachment

When your small business isn’t performing as well as you want to, it’s not necessarily your fault. There are hundreds of external factors outside of your control. Take the pandemic as a recent example. When your business fails, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure too.

Detach yourself from your business and your failure, to be able to act wisely, learn, tweak, improve, and grow.


4. Move on

No matter what happens, don’t let the failure stop you. Think about other inspiring business owners, writers, athletes, or artists, who didn’t give up even when life gave them lemons.

J. K. Rowling’s book was rejected twelve times before it became an overnight success. Harland Sanders was rejected 1009 times before his recipe was finally accepted and Kentucky Fried Chicken was born. It took Melanie Perkins three years to find investors for her start-up and lead Canva to a global success. What would have happened if they had stopped after the first rejection? If they hadn’t moved on? If they had lost their perseverance?   


Take their stories as a powerful inspiration and turn any “no” into “not yet”. Keep working on your ideas, finding new ways to reach your goal, and learning from any setbacks.



So, how would you react if you locked yourself out of your home?

Dorota helps digital brands infuse their content with a local touch. She is a localization consultant, translator specialized in IT, prompt engineer, and a book author. Dorota teaches online courses on localization, writes for her blog and a Medium publication. She also runs a Small Biz AI, a Substack newsletter for freelancers and small business owners ready to discover handy AI tools.