15 Ways to Get Back Up When the Entrepreneurial Life Knocks You Down

by | BiggerPockets.com

I recall the first year my husband and I began real estate investing. We were very committed and decided to attend as many real estate courses as we could. I recall how easy these “gurus” made real estate investing sound.

“No money, no experience, no problem!”

Well, after spending twelve years in this real estate investing business, there have been both ups and downs and wins and losses. One of the biggest consistencies in running our real estate business is that things don’t go as you expect. The partnership goes sour, the flip takes too long, the cost of construction exceeds the budget, the unit sits vacant for too long, the tenant goes back on their rent, etc. Believe me, I can go on and on here with this list since my husband and I have experienced most of these things and many more! If you remain in this business for a short or long time, the fact remains that things are not going to go as expected. That, my friends, is a reality.

However, that is not what separates the successful from the unsuccessful. What separates these two groups is HOW they move beyond these setbacks.

Epictetus said it best: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

That is really the key to success in any area. Although most of us know this to be true, it is not always easy to deal with setbacks when it means losing money, losing relationships, or losing our pride.

So what can you do in these situations to move powerfully through them? Here is a list of 15 things you can do to move beyond the frustration and get into solution mode!


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15 Ways to Get Back Up When the Entrepreneurial Life Knocks You Down

1. Take full responsibility for what happened.

This may seem like a simple one, but it is probably the first step in this process. If you don’t take responsibility for what happened and blame everyone and everything else, you will never make changes going forward. You will expect everyone and everything to change except you. Successful people don’t blame anyone. They take full responsibility for what happened.

2. Learn to reframe the situation.

I have read some very powerful books in my life, but one of my all-time favorites is Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins. I am re-reading this book right now! He speaks a lot about the power of reframing. When things don’t go as expected, you have the choice to interpret what happens in MANY different ways.

Related: How to Transform Your Mistakes Into a Powerful Betterment Tool

There are empowering ways to interpret what happens and disempowering ways to interpret what happens. Thomas Edison said it best when asked about inventing the light bulb: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” Begin reframing your own setbacks in ways that empower and support you!

3. Determine what you can do differently next time.

Before you move on from the situation, write down everything you learned and would do differently the next time. It is one thing to have these ideas in our head, and it is another thing to write them down.

4. Develop flexibility.

When I think about all the hundreds of “unexpected” circumstances we have dealt with over the years, the qualities to which I attribute our ability to move beyond these circumstances are flexibility and adaptability. Develop flexibility in everything!

5. Get honest with yourself.

This is probably one of the hardest but most important ones listed here. If you don’t get honest with yourself, you will not be clear on how to make things better in the future.

6. Deal with conflict head on.

When things go wrong, there are typically people and conflict involved. Directly deal with the conflict; that way, you can learn from it and move forward. Don’t avoid it. That won’t help you or anyone involved.

7. Seek to understand instead of being understood.

This is one of my favorite “habits” from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey explains there is great power in first seeking to UNDERSTAND before seeking to be UNDERSTOOD. In simple terms, listen first, speak second.

8. Communicate your truth.

When discussing what went wrong with others, you must speak your truth and be honest not only with yourself but with others (without being a jerk and alienating people!).

9. Move your body.

Exercise is critical all the time, but especially when you need added clarity about a situation. Study and after study has proven that exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Don’t make excuses!

10. Quiet your mind.

This looks different for different people, but regardless of how you do it, it can have an incredible effect on your life. This might look like meditation to some. Regardless of the form it takes, scheduling time to quiet your mind allows you to have space to see things differently than how you see them during your crazy busy days.

11. Don’t allow your past to equal your future.

As you move forward, don’t allow your past to equal your future. In other words, just because that one flip did not work out doesn’t mean you should never try again. You will need to course correct and do things differently. However, don’t beat yourself up and get stopped. Move through the fear and begin again with new learnings and new insight. Remember: Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it.

12. Learn from others — success leaves clues.

Success is all around us. When things go wrong for you, find every success story you can and learn, learn and learn from others.

Related: Confessions of Serial Mistake-Maker: How I’ve Found Real Estate Success Through Failure

13. Accept that progress is more important than perfection.

We often get stopped after things don’t go well because many of us are shooting for perfection. We are shooting for a home run on the first deal. Everyone wants to become a millionaire overnight. Let go of the “overnight success” concept. It is not possible. What is possible is to make progress and course correct every time.

14. Take action and don’t give up.

Once you course correct, learn what you need to learn, and take action on the next opportunity. Don’t allow yourself to become gun shy and give up. Most people try something new, it goes wrong, and they never do it again. I think that is a shame. People who succeed are not any luckier; they just keep getting up more times than others.

15. Help someone going through the same thing.

After you learn what you need to learn from your setback, make it your mission to help someone else going through the same experience. Recently, some of my family members shared with me their interest in buying investment property, and it has been so much fun helping them look at deals and give them advice. They passed on a deal that they would have made an offer on had it not been for our advice. It makes me happy to help others so they avoid the mistakes that we made early on!

I hope you found these tips, suggestions, and ideas helpful.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer members.]

What am I missing from this list? What do you do to move through your own setbacks?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Elizabeth Faircloth

Liz Faircloth has been managing and investing in real estate since 2004, along with her husband, Matt. We have built our business from scratch and now own over five million dollars in residential and commercial assets. We love to help and educate investors. Our YouTube Channel, The Landlord’s Chronicles, offers short, yet educational videos that covers topics such as flipping houses, rentals, rehabs, property management, and lessons learned along the way. http://www.youtube.com/c/DerosaGroupTrenton


        • Elizabeth Faircloth

          Hi David,
          I completely hear you!! It is completely healthy and important to question things. Just don’t stay there for too long. When I am feeling frustrated about something, I have come to learn it has something to teach us. Learn from it, then course correct and move on. If you are looking for a great book to read, I would highly recommend Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins. It has been great to re-read it and get my mind in a great state as I begin the new year!!
          Good luck to you and thanks for sharing!!

        • David Roberts

          Hi Elizabeth,

          I bought the 10X rule by Grant Cardone, that guy is amazingly positive.

          Im having trouble getting my flip wrapped up with my contractor, and just questioning my growth plan lately. But, i plan to keep growing one way or the other. Thanks!

  1. Curt Smith

    There are threads on BP and I hear within my REIA debate about the value of mentors, coaches, experts. My experience now believes that the smartest thing we as entrepreneurs, students of a technology, students of life, is to seek out experts, pay them if need be. But if you search your local REIA you may find that your help is ready and willing. But I have signed up with many smarter than me folks!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Curt,
      Thanks for your comment and I can’t agree more. We recently paid for a coach who is helping us get into much larger multi-family purchases. I have always believed the best athletes have the best coaches. I also agree that there is a wealth of knowledge out there for free as well and that is why this site is so wonderful as well as local REIA groups too! I think it all has a place. The key is what people do with free or paid support!
      Thanks for sharing and all the best for a great 2016!

  2. Elizabeth,

    Great article top to bottom. #7 – Winter is the time I read, read, read. Pulled out my Stephen Covey 7 Habits. Time to give it a reread. Habit #5 is my favorite. #12 – My personal motto: “Everyone knows something that you don’t. Learn from them.” #15 – Paying it forward in life is so important.

    Wishing you and your family much success in 2016!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!! Glad that this post inspired you to take Covey’s 7 Habits book off the shelf. That is one of my favorite books!! And I agree #5 (getting honest with yourself) is probably one of the hardest but most important lessons we all need to be reminded of. This one is not always the easiest but critical to grow personally and professionally.
      Thanks for the warm wishes! I wish you and your family the same! Hope 2016 brings you everything you are setting out to achieve!!

  3. Harry Metzinger

    Fantastic article Liz! Thank you for sharing. My wife has already voiced her concerns about how I will handle the inevitable setbacks (and we haven’t even gotten started yet…but 2016 will be the year!), so it is comforting to have these actions in the back of my mind to “get back up.” I literally have added this article to my Google calendar with a reminder to read every two months. Thank you again, and Happy New Year to you & Matt!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Harry – Thank so much for reading and commenting!! So wonderful to hear from you!! Looking forward to hearing about your progress along the way. Hope to see you at a SJREIA event coming up. Please know Matt and I are here for you guys! Keep us posted if we can ever help!! 🙂
      Happy New Year!

  4. Ramon Huerta

    Great Article and just what I needed as I have recently decided to return to real estate after some hard life setbacks. I been fighting this for about a year now and finally took the steps to return in 2016. Thank you.

  5. Great article. Even an anal-retentive planner like me runs into problems now and then. It took me two years to close on my first commercial property. I walked away from a 100+ deals before closing on my first commercial deal. None of the prospective properties fit my strict investment criteria, which caused second-guessing on my part as to whether my criteria were unrealistic. Well, it proved to be a successful template for both commercial and multifamily deals. Being relentless in the pursuit of deals – on your terms – is another way to separate the successful from the unsuccessful.

    A lot of the points in your article (e.g., develop flexibility, be honest w/yourself, deal w/conflict head on, seek to understand before being understood) can be applied to the pre-closing process. Like others, I’ve had my share of frustrations with REI. For example, I had six HVAC’s go out in one week – lovely! Our contingency plans resolved the issue with very little frustration; well, maybe a little frustration, but we got through it. Zig Ziegler’s bowling analogy helped drive this point home.

    He tells this story about a ritual a bowler goes through before hurling the ball down the alley; he carefully gets into the approach posture (planning) and then steps forward and releases the ball down the alley. The bowler then uses body language, facial expressions, and hand signals to guide the ball to the best point of impact. The point is, the result would be the same if he just turned around and not watched the impact of the ball on the pins. The results of a real estate deal are similar in terms of your post-closing position. You can’t take a mulligan after closing, which is why the points in your article are so important. Tackle the real estate challenges head-on and keep moving forward.

    Thanks for the writing a great article!

  6. Amie Fulks

    NO truer words! Great insight! The two that spoke loudest to me were to ‘quiet your mind’ and ‘help someone else’. Having an entrepreneurial bent almost goes without saying that you are a DOer and sometimes I think we are busy (whether productive or not) and we do not take the time to stop, think, be still. I read that Warren Buffet spent a huge amount of time (and I expect still does) just ‘thinking’. Amazing.
    Then to be sure we are planting seeds helping others, that sowing will inevitably bring forth some reward. Whether you believe in karma or that you reap what you sow – its a great policy to help overcome the challenges of self employment!


    I love, love all the knowledge you are sharing Elizabeth. Thank you. I am just starting out and these are all wonderful! For me personally, how I move on from my setbacks is to connect with those who has had similar setbacks. I believe we all learn from one another in various ways, more importantly for me, I would focus on what they DID to overcome the similar situation(s). I hope that makes sense and helps anyone struggling to bounce back up. After all, we’re only humans (:

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