How to bounce back after a setback

In business, things aren’t always going to go your way. Setbacks are inevitable. But it’s how you bounce back after them that matters most.

How to Bounce Back After a Setback

Years ago, when my business was just getting started, I woke up one morning to a very upsetting note from a client – “What? My contract is being cancelled?” 

Like any sophisticated small business owner, I burst into tears and held my head in my hands.  

When the going gets tough my mind often goes straight to, “Is this the final straw?  Is this the day that I finally decide to walk away from my job and start writing fiction for a living?”

And believe me, the life of the entrepreneur is just like corporate life – it’s full of challenging setbacks.

But for many of us that’s what keeps us engaged, and we often have to find resilience strategies to make sure we stay on course with our careers and thrive.

Whenever something goes wrong, I always think about “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, don’t you? It’s so therapeutic! 

You dream about throwing it all away and for a moment you feel the release of all the pressure. Common sense and your love for the job quickly returns, but the mini-break is indeed a circuit-breaker for stress!

For all of you out there who have been in the same situation, here is my recipe for how to bounce back after a set back:

1. Hug someone

I’ve always held on to my glass balls. No matter how absorbed I get with work, it’s always families and friends first. They will always sustain you through hard times. They are your rock. 

2. Ring your mentor

She was perfect – she listened, empathised (“that’s outrageous”), and then gave the hard advice – “Don’t escalate it, you’ll never win”. 

Of course this is the right advice, but that is exactly what makes this situation so wrong. Large companies have so much power over small businesses.

But of course, if you work in a large organisation and you experience something that challenges your personal – or the company’s – values, you need to call it out! Escalate it up the chain.

3. Find a release

Go for a run, or do a work out. Physical activity and exhaustion helps you balance out your mental exhaustion. They need to be in balance.

Me? I went for a drink! 

Look, I’m not promoting alcoholism here, but I can confirm that I went out to dinner with my girlfriends and enjoyed a few cocktails. I didn’t even talk about the problems of the day, but being around those you love and having a good laugh puts everything into perspective. 

It’s an important part of getting your power back.

4. Get the facts

After some strong coffee in the morning, I reached out to the team and established the facts about the contract, what we had done, and not done, what the client had done, and not done.

This is, of course, highly recommended, if not essential, when you’re working in a large corporate.

I love this quote from Barbara Cororan, serial entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor: “I over-prepare for everything I do. People mistake that for confidence.”

5. Look in the mirror

This is the most important aspect of leadership. Don’t point to others.  Look yourself in the mirror and take ownership of the mistakes.

6. Put a plan in place

Back in the office and with the video production team – “OK, I know you’ve been jumping through hoops all year, but we need to make this small project happen?”

7. Reach out

Email is both the best and worst of communication tools.  I sent a kind, apologetic note to the client asking for a face-to-face meeting to discuss their concerns and to map out a pathway forward to success. 

8. Reflect on your success

Like many female procurement professionals and founders, I am THE WORST at recognising all that I have achieved. 

I move on from one accomplishment to another, accepting it in my stride, and not really stopping to recognise my achievements.  I always advise people wanting to get ahead in their careers to “build your trophy cabinet”. 

Because sometimes you’ve got to sit back and admire the trophies.

9. Take a breath

I always say “let’s sleep on it”. You need to get some perspective on a situation in order to make a considered decision.

In summary

Last night, I was interviewing a candidate and she asked me, “how did you build such a large, global network?”

My response? “One relationship at a time”.

And it’s true.

That’s why you need to bounce back, keep all your relationships in play to survive the next set back, and take it one step at a time.

To hear more from Tania Seary, and to find out more about our BRAVO 2023 Women In Procurement and Supply Chain Leadership Program – head to our Bravo Women In Procurement homepage.

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This article was originally published on March 28, 2022