Troubled Times: What to Do When Your Chips Are down & the Bear is Poking Back!

Stress, pain, suffering.

These are all part of the entrepreneurial journey that we each embark upon, but what do you do when your chips are down and nothing looks like working in your favor?

Sales are down, your partnership is on the rocks, motivation has gone AWOL and you’re left wondering what to do next.

I’ve experienced business in many states of mind, seeing it through eyes that could not see the possibilities and the opportunities that were right in front of me. I’ve seen it through the death of a father with cancer, a failing business partnership, lack of sales and even depression.

But through all of this, what is the deciding factor between someone who falls with the cards and someone who picks up a new deck and keeps going?

Let’s take a look….


Step 1: Move on & move on quickly.

In my book Flee 9-5 I tell a story about Annah Stretton, a high-profile New Zealand fashion designer. The media published a story about Annah, complete with a picture of her on a bearskin rug (complete with taxidermied head) with her two pet pooches.  The problem with the photo is that Annah professed to support animal rights. There was an obvious contradiction in message that even Annah publicly acknowledged. Despite having a certificate saying that the rug was created after an officially sanctioned cull in a Canadian national park as a result of overpopulation, it wasn’t good enough.

The public backlash was fast and severe, and the timing was terrible. She was just about to launch her fashion show for New Zealand Fashion Week. Now, Annah had a choice to make. She could let it bring her down or she could deal with it as best she could and just move on.

Annah chose to move on so she sat tight, stayed focused and kept working. Her Fashion Show was an outstanding success after all and the bear controversy resulted in an actual ‘boost’ in sales, not a decline.

The point to be made here is to move on quickly. Don’t go digging around in the past because it will bring all the negatives forward into your future. Successful entrepreneurs move on quickly from devastating set-backs. The rest decide to indulge in all of the negative emotions, seeking some kind of payoff for the situation. Payoff might come in the form of concern shown from loved ones around them or gaining more attention. The choice that winners make is to leave the bear in the past and not keep poking it, or it will poke back!


Step 2: Your identity is the crucial step to ‘immediate’ change

The identity we hold as an individual becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That Is, we behave in the way that we think we should, based on who we believe we are at the time. The person you are today is the person that brought you to where you are right this second.

If something has gone wrong, you have a choice in the way you react. When you react negatively, that focus won’t allow you to reach new goals from where you are.

It’s not possible. You can’t ‘see’ the path from the identity that you’re holding at the moment, which could potentially be a victim mentality. Your focus is on being right or sharing with the world how ‘wronged’ you were. You can’t see a solution because you’re holding the problem too close and it’s blocking your view.

To change your results, you must pivot yourself and focus on who you’re becoming, not on who you are right now or who you were. To do this, you must accept and let go of the past so you can evolve into what will be… a person that has the potential to see the opportunities that are all around us every single second of every single day.

It’s not money that dictates success.  Imagination does.

Easier said than done, right!?

Begin by recognizing and accepting that where you are right now is exactly where you’re meant to be. Every action you took led to this current experience. Now you must decide who you are becoming. That sets your direction. In knowing that, you can begin to empower yourself so that every future action can lead to an entirely different outcome – one which suits the person you will be.


Step 3: Same lessons, different day, old identity

The only reason you keep on coming up against the same challenges in business and life comes back to one very simple thing. You’re yet to learn the lessons from these experiences. Much like a computer game that won’t allow you to progress to the next level without meeting certain conditions, neither will life.

Failing to make sales or connect with colleagues, relationship meltdowns…

Instead of burying ourselves into emotions of ‘woe is me,’ we must ‘pivot’ and ask ourselves, what is the lesson that I’m meant to take away from this?

Once you’ve learnt the lesson, you can proceed to the next level and reach your goal.

Life has a funny way of recreating challenges in new and creative ways. Business partnerships may fail, only similar failures to happen later in another area of your life, perhaps in your personal relationships. Never, ever, ever ask, ‘why does this keep happening to me!?” That will only ever send you back in time to a place that isn’t inspirational nor helpful in moving forward.

Instead, ask “What is the lesson here?”

Ask a different question and you’ll not only get a different result, you’ll also see a different path that makes your goals suddenly feasible, and within a shorter amount of time.

You can’t get to where you’re going from where you stand in your current identity. It’s not possible. You have to see it through different eyes and the only way to do that is to ask yourself who it is that you are becoming.

Once you define this, things start to shift on a dime. Opportunities fall into place, people connect with you that once ignored your telephone calls. Your point of attraction pivots.


Step 4: Strategy, personal and professional

Like anything in life, when the chips are down and the bear’s about to devour them, we need a strategy. The strategy allows us to move on and let go.

Start by reorienting yourself.  Just like searching for yourself on a GPS, we need to work out your current location so we can map the journey to the next. To do this, we take stock of what is, then we reorient ourselves. We ask ourselves who we need to become to get to where we’re going.

Here are some examples.

  • If your business is lacking sales, what training do you require? If you can’t afford training, look for other options. Jump online and watch countless YouTube videos, read online articles or download kindle books. There’s always a way.
  • If Facebook adverts aren’t working for you, it’s not Facebook, it’s you. Don’t blame the platform; that only puts you in a position of powerlessness. Accept that perhaps you lack education around how to use the platform so educate yourself and the challenges will slip away.
  • If you are suffering financial strain, you are dealing with one of the issues that I see all the time. If this is current in your reality, the missing gap is, once again, education. You see education = cash flow.  Think about the areas you need to educate yourself on. Profit margins? Return on investment? Sales lead time? Cost of leads? Viability of a product or service? Work out the gaps and then get to work. Once again, if you can’t afford formal training, there is a lot of information freely available online. Take advantage of it.

At the end of the day you can have your excuses, or you can take some action and find reasons to do it. It’s your choice. We each possess the ability to choose our thoughts on a moment by moment basis. As long as we become aware of what we’re thinking and ‘catch’ ourselves in the moment, we can create the thoughts we want.

Simply put, choose better thoughts and you’ll choose a better reality.

Need help in turning a business around?

For more strategies like these, click here now to take a look at my 30 Day Business Turnaround Program .It will help you work out your strategy, create effective marketing campaigns with ease and turn your business around within 30 days or less.

Now let me ask you, how do you cope when the chips are down and the bear starts growling?

Let me know in the comments below. I reply to every comment.

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  • Ben Angel

    What do you do when the chips are down?

    Post your comments here and let’s support one another reach our goals.

    Ben 🙂

  • Debra

    I usually look around for solutions and try and visit as many options to improve the situation. Am currently trying that now and am hitting brick walls, :-). I speak positively about the situation as if it has been turned around for the best.

    • Ben Angel

      You’re definitely on the right track Debra. Take a look at the ‘identity’ that you’re holding at the moment. I guarantee part of that identity is that ‘I keep hitting brick walls.’ Change that to, ‘I keep finding better solutions’ and things will turnaround incredibly quickly. 🙂 Ben

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