He might have been writing in 1888, but Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous line “What does not kill me, makes me stronger” still rings true today.
Of course, there are exceptions to this, but when applied to business, the phrase has real resonance. Being able to respond positively to problems and adversity can help to set you apart and put you on a path to success.
I know from my experiences as an entrepreneur that no matter how careful and diligent you are, things don’t always go to plan. All business people, including the biggest names on the planet, experience difficulties. The important thing is to be able to cope with these issues, learn from them and ultimately become stronger and more effective as a result.
Suffered a business setback? You’re in good company
If you’ve experienced setbacks in your career, rest assured you’re in good company. Many high-flyers have had to fight through difficulties and disappointments.
Fast food legend Colonel Sanders is a classic case in point. The Kentucky Fried Chicken founder may have been one of the most iconic figures in the industry when he died, but things didn’t always look so good for the fast food innovator. He had built up a successful roadside restaurant over many years only to see its value plummet when a new interstate highway opened, bypassing the location. Sanders sold the restaurant at a loss in 1956 when he was 66 years old.
In need of a new plan, he and his wife hit the road to focus on franchising deals around the country and by 1963, more than 600 restaurants were selling Kentucky Fried Chicken. That year, he sold the franchising rights for $2 million, which is equivalent to over $15 million in today’s money.
Even internationally renowned businessman Richard Branson has endured major disappointments, including his Virgin Cola venture. According to the entrepreneur, one of the reasons why this foray into soft drinks didn’t work out was because his company failed to follow its own rule of only entering an industry when it can offer consumers something markedly different.
Branson didn’t let this blip deter him from launching subsequent projects though. More recent ventures have included everything from Virgin Media to Virgin Sport.
Being in business means being prepared to learn and adapt
What do people such as Colonel Sanders and Richard Branson have in common? One trait that individuals like this share is an ability to pick themselves up when they’ve been knocked down. If you encounter adversity in business, it’s essential that you don’t let this stop you from striving for your goals. It might not be easy, but try to stay upbeat and positive about the future.
It’s also crucial to learn the lessons of your mistakes and to adapt your approach accordingly. This will help ensure you don’t run into similar difficulties in the future.
Having launched his first company at the age of 22 and grown it into an international business, Chris Niarchos has personal experience of what it takes to steer a business to success.