“Don’t Stop Believing”: What to Do When Your Business Encounters a Setback

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As much as we don’t like to admit it, setbacks are unavoidable in business. But what really makes the difference is not whether we encounter failures – because we all do – it’s how we respond to them.

The experience of a setback in business reminds me of the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believing.” Even when the odds are stacked against you, you have to persevere for your sake and the sake of your company. It’s a situation I’ve certainly experienced before.

“Don’t stop believing,

Hold on to that feeling”

— Journey

The Setback

Twenty years ago I was with a telecom company that offered high-end data services. It doesn’t sound like much now, but back then we were developing 10-megabit and higher connections between cities. This was around the time when services of even 1.5-megabit was advanced!

One of our clients during this time was one of the major investment banking companies in the same league as Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan. They were using our 1.5-megabits service since we hadn’t yet fully developed our 10-megabit service. Unfortunately, our company wasn’t performing up to our service level agreement.

The client called us into their conference room to discuss our mistakes, and they video recorded us like we were providing congressional testimony. They sat up on a stage looking down at us and went through EVERY single error we’ve made over the past six months. It was brutal! In the end, they decided to end business with our company. We were devastated!

The Response

As I walked out the door with four other team members, our sales executive inquired about the idea of giving them 10-megabits service between all cities in the United States. It was almost ridiculous to even suggest at the time. The highest speed the client ever had nation-wide for this type of service was 1.5-megabits – the client hesitated just for a second and then replied, “No, I don’t think so. We’re done here.”

That night the client called and said, “Maybe we should talk about that 10-megabit service.” The president of our company flew out on the red-eye from the west coast, and we met with the client.

After hammering out logistics, we agreed to move forward with the groundbreaking, cross-country high-speed data service. Before leaving the client said, “Well, don’t screw up again, because once we put our employees on this high-speed service, there’s no turning back. You guys have GOT to make this happen.”

Execute!

We put together a roll-out plan…executed as if our lives depended on it…we made it happen and we exceeded their expectations. The client was so impressed and said we really stepped up. The client was so happy with the effort, they gave our operations team Christmas presents that year!

The challenge actually helped us. Not only did we save the client, but we were also able to prove our vision wasn’t just vaporware!

While pitching to larger prospects, we would mention this high-profile client with 10-megabit service cross-country. Soon, more companies wanted our services. Our company continued to grow in value, and was eventually sold in the late 90s.

“Don’t stop believing,

Hold on to that feeling”

— Journey

The selected lyrics ring especially true when starting a business. The excitement of innovation is what keeps you pushing forward through difficult times. The reason we were creating the 10-megabit service wasn’t just for the speed – it was to create something new that had never been done before! And as they say, “The Rest is History” as we have 100-megabit service into our HOMES now!

The Lesson

We could’ve easily admitted defeat when we encountered our setback. If we conceded defeat, we wouldn’t have been poised for a triumphant comeback. The success of the company was due to our resilience. We didn’t stop believing in our product and ourselves.

Do you believe in your product or service? Are you creative in handling tough customer situations? Are you able to get back up swinging when you and your company encounter a setback? If not, adjust. If yes…use the story both internally and externally to catapult your company to success!

Brian’s Musical Inspiration:

RIFF: Don’t Stop Believing was on Journey’s biggest studio album “Escape”. Recording sessions began in April 1981, and lasted until the middle of June. Escape was released on July 31, 1981, and immediately, the album became a mainstream success. The album, which has thus far sold nine times platinum, went to number one on the album charts later that year.  And of course, we all remember it as the song played at the end of the final episode of The Sopranos.

BAND ON WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey (band)

WEBSITE: http://journeymusic.com/journey-on-tour/

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04854XqcfCY

 

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