19/09/2016 7:49 AM AEST | Updated 19/09/2016 7:50 AM AEST

How These Entrepreneurs Made A Comeback After Business Failure

Tips on how to cope personally, and professionally.

Sydney entrepreneur Laura Moore came back from disaster to launch a successful health coaching business.

Running a small business can be one of the biggest, and most rewarding, challenges you can take on.

Imagine then, pouring your heart, time and life savings into developing, launching and growing your business, only to watch it either come close to failure, or worse, go under.

How do you make it back from there?

That was the question facing Sydney entrepreneur Laura Moore, who lost her life's savings when the gym franchise she poured $400,000 into burned down last year.

She was only eight months into a five-year franchise commitment when she saw her dreams literally go up in smoke.

"The flames went up into the vents and ripped into the gym taking the entire building down," she told The Huffington Post Australia.

"I've always wanted to run my own business and this setback wasn't enough to kill that dream.

"I actually stood and watched as the roof collapsed and the building fell into the street."

She tried to salvage the business by operating out of a nearby gym, but soon realised that was not financially viable, and faced a seven-month battle to settle her franchise agreement.

But financial dramas were secondary to the toll the incident would take on her health.

"I put on weight, was experiencing extreme fatigue, constant bloating and poor digestion, brain fog and erratic moods, which was seriously affecting my performance both personally and professionally," she said.

"To the world, it was business as usual, but behind closed doors I was battling with trying to exit the franchise, constantly worrying about my team and clients and how I could ensure they were impacted as minimally as possible, and struggling daily with my health. I now realise there was still a big part of me that felt like a failure."

Laura Moore now helps others get their health and wellbeing on track.

A failed business doesn't mean personal failure

Moore said she now uses what she learned during that dark time to help others through her new performance and health coaching business, Uppy.

"I learned how to manage and overcome the thoughts and behaviours that had led me to that point in the first place -- perfectionism, unrelenting standards, self-sabotage, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, procrastination, over-working," she said.

"I've always wanted to run my own business and this setback wasn't enough to kill that dream.

"The fire was kind of a blessing because it allowed me to get amazing insight very early on into my business career, so I now know the key areas I need to improve on (or delegate!) in order to make my new and future businesses run efficiently and successfully, and in a way that serves me personally too.

"I'm sick of seeing people struggle because they've been misinformed or they don't know there's another way, so I created Uppy as I believe everyone has a right to the knowledge and support that can help them live more."

Moore's wellbeing advice when faced with business disaster:

  • Focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you can't: If you keep chasing and worrying about the things that are out of your control you will not only drive yourself crazy, you will waste an incredible amount of time and energy -- two of the things we generally feel like we don't have in abundance.
  • Always prioritise yourself and look after yourself: You need your wellbeing more than ever when going through challenging times, as you need your energy and clarity to make decisions and keep yourself going.
  • Ensure you have a good support network: It's essential to have an outlet to get things out of your head. This helps give you perspective and the ability to look at things more logically, rather than being mixed up within all the emotion.

Even experienced entrepreneurs can face failure

Pawl Cubbin, serial entrepreneur and founder of advertising agency ZOO Group, also faced the burn of a failing business 12 years ago when the shine wore off his Canberra nightclub Academy 11 months after opening.

"It was a massive endeavour to get it going: Canberra's not a big place and we opened this nightclub in an underground cinema," he told HuffPost Australia.

"It had heaps of atmosphere and the novelty value was big, so it went well for the best part of 12 months -- everybody came and it was a big deal. We killed it.

"But after 12 months the novelty wore off; everybody had been multiple times and even though it was unique in Canberra, it was reduced to a certain demographic and that wasn't enough to sustain it."

Zoo Group
Entrepreneur Pawl Cubbin had to completely re-think his marketing plan when his Canberra nightclub started to flounder.

Cubbin said the business floundered for three months before he could come up with a plan to save it.

"It was an expensive project ... we'd invested too much to close it," he said.

"It did too well too initially for us to close it. You've got to identify what you're doing wrong -- you've got to take some blame.

"One of the guys I worked with said 'I think this is the demographic we want, let's put that out there and promote that' and we did. And it was the right thing at the right time, so we were lucky."

Cubbin's advice on how to prop up a failing business:

  • Be honest: When your business is starting to go downhill, it can be pretty scary to admit the full extent of the damage to others (and yourself). All businesses have ups and downs -- the good ones become better than they've ever been. Don't assume things will get better on their own and do nothing. The sooner you are honest with yourself, the sooner you will be able to turn things around.
  • Reduce costs: Reducing costs when you think the business is starting to take a turn for the worst gives you more time to fix the issue.
  • Put fear and circumstance aside: When you're not scared by potential outcomes, you can think laterally and creatively about solutions.
  • Ask for advice: Explain how you think you can come up with a solution to your business issues, and ask for opinions on it. Outside, objective input always helps to determine if your solution is a good one.
  • Be transparent: Show your staff and customers that you are making all the right changes to turn the business around. Demonstrate it by ensuring your product or service is better than it's ever been.