Dear Entrepreneur, losing a contract or client should not worry you. What should worry you is why you lost that client.
For me, the biggest challenge back in 2002 when I was a first year law graduate was how to put my stock market idea into a company and succeed. I was such a greenhorn looking back. I worried about getting clients. I was worried about closing deals. I was worried about sustaining the deals. Fast forward to 2015, looking back, i am grateful for the million mistakes that I made. I am grateful for the lessons and above all, I am more grateful for the failures that I have encountered than the successes I have heard.
Entrepreneur’s of fore once said that success is a bad teacher, failure is a good professor. My learning curve has been unique and tough and the fact that am still running a start up, tells you just how tough our business environment is. It’s even worse when you refuse to engage in corrupt tendencies. My learning has had its own list of casualties of lost deals, lost clients, lost contracts and lost employees and talent. The harnessing of lessons from this has been the toughest of them all.
One thing that I have come to appreciate from my failures is that it makes you better than you went to bed yesterday. That it makes you learn as to why you failed. We have come to demonise failure. We have come to associate failure with a stigma that has become more potent than failure itself. When entrepreneur’s failure, it’s made into a toxic matter rather than a learning moment. No one has a manual on life. The manual comes after we fall and rise up. Failure to rise up has engulfed most entrepreneurs and hence the believe that failing is back.
As an entrepreneur, failing to me is a learning class. Sometimes it’s biology and sometimes it’s Chemistry and sometimes it’s literature. It does not make one any less of a person. One critical thing that kills entrepreneurs is when they fail in retaining a client or a contract or a deal and they fail to find out why and if the reasons are not corrected then a culture develops of a toxic environment where all clients leave. This is one thing that has worried me the most in my entrepreneurial journey. How to rise up when you fail in. Keeping a client. Lessons harnessed indicate that the first thing is to ensure that you find out why you lost the client and rectify the situation within the office eco-system to ensure it does not recur.
Finding out why you lost a client is always more important than trying to get them back and yet you have no clue as to why they are walking away. Business is always about relationships. If your boyfriend/ girlfriend walks away, one always tries to find out why and always tries to ensure the causative issue is resolved. In the entrepreneurial realm, finding out why a client left is more important first and foremost and sometimes it’s good to loose a client as it enables you to focus, clips your wings of arrogance and brings you to reality.
One thing I never had is a mentor to guide me through on how to set up a business. Despite getting the best education any Kenyan can wish for in the top schools in the country, none prepared me on how to set up business or be an entrepreneur. The learning has not been kind and my advice to other entrepreneurs is that when you fail, learn why, understand why. Correct the mistake immediately, internalise the challenge. Do not waste your tears on it. If you got the deal or contract in the first place, you can get it again. For me, the lessons have been on ensuring that delivery, commitment, purpose to a contract is what you promise a client. Failure on this, means you fail at the end of the end. Entrepreneurs need to learn that contracts come and go. What must be harnessed is the lessons there in.