After more than 20 years in the industry, I can tell you that it’s not a matter of if, but when, an unplanned financial liability will impact your beverage business. Whether it’s a contract dispute, a lawsuit, a recall, or the fallout from a global crisis like the recent Coronavirus pandemic, there is no way to predict and avoid every possible financial setback you’ll encounter as a beverage entrepreneur.
Every entrepreneurial journey is made up of highs and lows. While not all of the memories are fond ones, I know my team and I wouldn’t be where we are today without overcoming the challenges that, at the time, seemed like they might break us, or leave us broke.
It doesn’t get easier, but you can choose to make it better
The initial feelings of shock and fear that accompany an unexpected expense or financial setback will always be there. Still you can mitigate the damage to your business and move forward faster and smarter by adjusting your perspective and approach. Here are four shifts to empower you to stay resilient and productive in the face of a financial setback.
1. Choose people over profit
It’s natural to zero in on the numbers when facing a financial setback. We start to calculate how we can regain profit and reduce expenses to get back to where we want to be. Getting a grip on the numbers is essential, and you need to be realistic about the impact and your options.
The danger comes when you lose sight of the people impacted by your decisions. It can be tempting to push back in times of financial strain with short-term tactics and strategies that might negatively affect people and relationships.
Acting out of vengeance or to demonstrate power or control may seem appropriate and justified at times, but choosing this route is rarely a win in the long run. There are a lot of ways to make up ground financially, but it’s tough to come back from a tainted reputation or a ruined relationship. Choosing to act in the interest of people first whenever possible helps you preserve the most valuable asset in your business, your relationships.
2. Choose gratitude over resentment
Being sued over the interpretation of a contract term cost our company a distressing amount of money. We could have chosen to use that incident as a lesson not to trust, or to cast blame or anger. Instead, we decided to see the conflict as an opportunity to review and tighten our contract language to avoid future confusion.
It was an extremely expensive lesson, but when we considered how much we could have lost in future disputes, had we not taken the corrective action, it didn’t look so bad. I’m not suggesting you’ll be able to choose this perspective right away. Sometimes you have to sit with the negative feelings before you can see the lessons and cultivate a sense of gratitude for what you’ve gone through. When we choose to be grateful for the learning, we take back control and are ready to own our part and move forward.
3. Choose a long-term perspective instead of short-sighted stress
One of the first things I ask myself when presented with a stressful financial situation is, “will this matter three years from now?” In every case, the answer has been “no.” So often, the financial situation we’re agonizing over now will be a blip on the radar in a few years.
It is not about trivializing the current issues, but rather, maintaining perspective. With the right frame of mind, we can visualize a future where this current period is in the distant past, and we are thriving again. This positive image of the future is what will keep you moving forward toward what you want, rather than away from what you don’t want. It’s an important distinction that can be hard to make when you’re in the middle of a financial crisis.
4. Choose learning and laughter over shame and fear
It may take time but finding a way to laugh and joke about your past issues and mistakes is essential. When our company had to buy five truckloads of a non-alcoholic beer that we could not send back or sell, my coworker joked that I would have to name my first-born child after that beer in memory of how much we spent on it. We still laugh about it today.
Laughing releases endorphins and dopamine, the feel-good chemicals we need during stressful times. Try to find the humor where you can by staying positive and courageous, and keeping things in perspective. Share what you’re going through with people you trust and people who’ve gone through similar difficulties themselves. They can guide you while helping you process and cope.
When you face your first, or next financial hit, rest assured that you will survive. As stressful and scary as your situation may feel, you always have a choice. By choosing the best of the options in front of you and keeping things in perspective, you can turn your short-term losses into gains that will help you build a stronger and more sustainable beverage business.