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  • Dawn Reshen-Doty

Turning Adversity Into Success

Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.

— Ralph Blum

Many entrepreneurs who start businesses jump in with both feet and with big dreams of success. Many of those businesses fail. According to the Small Business Administration, around 50 percent of new businesses fail within the first five years and only 33 percent survive past a decade. There are multiple reasons why small businesses fail. How business owners address small failures that happen along the way can make the difference between the business launching into success or shriveling up and dying. Here are some examples of two famous entrepreneurs that illustrate why small businesses fail and how they can be turned around.

How Steve Jobs Brought Apple Back From the Brink of Destruction

Some business owners make the mistake of starting too many projects simultaneously, which is one reason why small businesses fail. The near-death of Apple is illustrative. Steve Jobs, the famous founder, had a falling out with the board of directors, leaving in 1985. With stiff competition from the less expensive Windows-based personal computers, Apple reacted by developing too many products. Jobs was invited to return in 1996 when the company looked as if it were dying.

Jobs smartly reduced the number of projects under development from 350 to 10. Instead of trying to tackle too much, he focused on innovation. His forward-thinking ability and his strong reading of culture helped Apple to develop the iMac, iPhone, iPad, and iTunes. The stock soared more than 9,000 percent, turning Apple into one of the biggest turnaround stories.

Apple's turnaround demonstrates that businesses should not spread themselves too thin. Taking the time to read the market and then focusing on developing products that are transformative is more likely to result in success. Jobs's vision and his work to get his team passionately behind it demonstrate how business owners can turn their failures into successes.

James Eden and Private White VC

Another terrific example is provided by James Eden, the founder of Private White VC, a high-end clothing line for men. Eden left a promising career in finance behind in London, moving to Manchester to try to save a textile factory that was founded by his grandfather. He found that the machinery was aging, so he updated and modernized it. White took his vision of transforming the factory into one that made its own clothing line rather than simply manufacturing textiles for others.

According to him, business owners must be passionate about what they are doing, and many business owners start their businesses for the wrong reasons. His clothing line is one of the most successful ones for men in Europe. White says businesses should think big and take responsibility for the mistakes and failures made along the way, instead thinking about how the lessons learned can be turned into success.

Small business owners can turn their businesses' failures into success as well. If you dream big, you can handle the setbacks while pushing forward, being unafraid to travel down new trajectories or take risks.

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