Turning a Loss Into a Lesson

Last month at Lemonly, we had an unfortunate business negotiation that slipped through our fingers. It was a great contract that we thought was a done deal, but it took a quick turn south. I recorded a video in the airport sharing my raw reaction to the news. When I posted the video to my Facebook page, it resonated with many other folks and entrepreneurs. You can watch the video here and see the reactions here.

I decided to rewatch that video recently, a month later, to see how my perspective might have changed. It definitely did.

1. Time Heals

Watching this video a month later was a great exercise in determination for me. The rollercoaster is real. In the 32 days since I posted this video, we’ve had at least two other lows and another three or four highs. We haven’t had a low as significant as this, but the realization that so much can happen in a month reduces the pain.

Time heals that pain. I watch this video now and chuckle. How the hell did that happen? Did it actually go down that way? Looking back, I can just say “oh well” to myself and know that we’ll get ’em next time. In business and in life, you wish you could speed up the clock during the tough times, but know that in time all will be ok. Plus, you’re not an entrepreneur without a few scars, right?

2. Pick Up the Phone

After the dust settled on the loss of this contract, my biggest takeaway for next time is to pick up the phone. In this case, the potential client never shared their phone number, but I should have pushed for it. I should have picked up the phone, called the potential client, and asked questions. When you speak to someone in person or on the phone, you remove the potential for misunderstanding that a text message or email can create.

Make an effort to understand the other person’s point of view and their position in negotiation. Talk to a person on a level where you can make a real connection, ideally in person or at least on the phone. Ask questions and push for clarity and understanding. Sometimes technology can be more of a barrier than a convenience. Pick up the phone!

3. If You’re Never Losing, You’re Not Winning

I still believe that negotiating was the right move in this situation. I also still believe that Lemonly was worth the investment we requested. We were right to hold our ground on the value of our service. This client had the potential to be a great business win, but we had to win it on our terms. By holding our ground on these aspects, we lost the business. And that’s ok. We know what we stand for at Lemonly, and we’re willing to lose for it.

If you run your business by always conceding, adjusting, and relenting, are you actually running your business?

If you’re never losing, then you’re not taking enough risks. Losses and failures are part of the game. It’s how you learn. Go ahead and lose, but make sure you learn from it.

4. Remember the Moments

I always wish that I had a picture of the first office from the company I started in 2009 with my brother. We won a business grant and a 1,300 square foot office space with nothing but a card table and two chairs around it. That was our office because it was all we had, but also all we needed. Today at Lemonly we have 4,000 square feet with tons of furniture and nearly 20 people. But I still vividly remember that first 9 Clouds office in my head, and I wish I had a picture.

Recording this video served as a reminder of this low moment which has made for great motivation. I don’t want to forget this moment. I’m going to try and do a better job of remembering both the highs and the lows. The journey is the best part of being an entrepreneur.

The best is yet to come.

The key to personal and professional growth is to push yourself, stumble and fall, reflect on that experience and learn for next time. Recording that video in the airport was a moment of reflection. Writing this post is another point of reflection on how we’ve grown since that video. I can’t wait until I read this post a year from now to see what I’ve learned.