While watching a UEFA Champions League match one weekend, the losing team’s despondence reminded me of an entrepreneur I had worked with a few years prior, and the manner in which she reacted to losing a deal.
The first year of Rebecca’s* entrepreneurial journey was challenging, and when she lost two deals, and then a third one, she became increasingly discouraged and demotivated.
Instead of changing her mindset and devising new strategies for sourcing new clients, she chose to rather wallow in her losses and obsess about the reasons why her pitches had failed. Her negative mindset prevented her from shifting and unlocking new opportunities.
The Business Game
In many ways business is like a sports game, because you’re always competing against an opponent and will either win or lose a game. When a soccer team loses a match, it doesn’t mean they’ve now inevitably lost the entire champions league, however, their attitude after losing the aforementioned match is what determines the outcome of the league.
The team can either sit and sulk in the change room afterwards, or they can learn from their losses and work together to develop a new game plan for the next match.
After numerous sleepless nights, Rebecca met with me early one morning to chat about her business, and identify the steps she should take to start moving forward again. She admitted that she was stuck in a rut of despair, and felt like it was the end of the world.
After listening to her, I asked: “Are you prepared to lose?” I explained the soccer analogy to her, and told her that if she wasn’t prepared to lose at times, she couldn’t play the ‘game’ because losing is part of being an entrepreneur.
Too many entrepreneurs react to winning a big account by taking their foot off the pedal and becoming complacent, and when they lose an account they take their foot off the pedal again and become despondent – as was the case with Rebecca. The results are disastrous.
Many years ago my mentor shared the ‘double double-up’ strategy with me, which I share with all of the entrepreneurs that I encounter.
“After losing a deal,” he said, “you should always double your efforts in pursuing new opportunities, by contacting at least twice as many new potential clients as you would normally. But, more importantly, and less obviously, the same strategy applies when you sign a deal.”
The ‘double double-up’ strategy has undoubtedly been one of the cornerstones of my entrepreneurial success.
*Name changed for the article.