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How to Recover from a Bad Business Decision

How to Recover from a Bad Business Decision

So you made a decision you regret. Hired the wrong person. Invested in a lemon. Trusted the untrustworthy. Lost money. Wasted time. And now you’re beating yourself up. We’ve all been there.  In fact, if you haven’t been there, it’s probably because you’re not willing to take the risks that are necessary in business.

Just this week I heard from a client who invested $200 in a contractor who said he would optimize her website and improve her business ranking in Google. She’s frustrated and disappointed that she seems to have thrown that money down the drain. Another client tells me she spent $3,600 on a PR firm that was handling her social media for her business and she had to let them go because she spent more time managing them and cleaning up the mess they made, than she would have if she had done the work herself. And I recently hired a contractor who agreed to deliver a project in ten days  for $1,600 and it’s now going on three months of excuses, delays and empty promises.

What’s a mompreneur to do?       

Let it Go!

Well, the first thing is to let go of the frustration, anger and disappointment – it’s not helping the situation. Instead, let’s focus on the blessing and the lesson. My guess is that if you search deep enough, you’ll find a single lesson – a powerful truth – from the experience that God has placed on your path.

"There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from."

                -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Assess the Problem

Next, we need to figure out how we got into the situation in the first place. From my experience, small business owners and entrepreneurs tend to engage in five specific behaviors that lead to bad business decisions. So let’s take a look and learn from their mistakes (ok, so they’re my mistakes, too)!

Five sure-fire ways to get swindled, bamboozled or cheated in business:

1. Go for the lowest price. You’ve heard this before: free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it – nothing. The same holds true for choosing a product, service or vendor solely on the price point. Ask any volunteer coordinator and she’ll tell you that managing a team of unpaid workers is more of a challenge than managing a staff of highly paid professionals. If you really need a professional job done for your business, then hire a professional – and pay them what they are worth.

2. Hire a friend. If you’re hoping for a disaster, the next best thing to getting work for free is hiring a friend or family member. This is not to say you should never work with friends or family, but take an honest look and determine if there is a pattern of failure with this tactic. There are ways to protect  your interests when hiring anyone – including a friend. Do you need a written contract perhaps?

3. Barter your services. OK, so I’m repeatedly guilty of this tactic but I seem to have found a way to make it work. My rule of thumb is that I never barter my services unless I would have purchased the other business owner’s product or service anyway. So I avoid agreeing to provide my services in exchange for something I may never want or use (Consider this an open invitation for Starbucks to barter with me for copywriting services!).

4. Dig your head in the sand. There’ssomething to be said for developing your strengths and outsourcing your weaknesses, but we can’t afford to be entirely ignorant  about what we’re purchasing. That means we need to understand enough about search engine optimization or website development to know what the contractor is going to deliver and how the process works. We need to know enough to ask the right questions. And if you don’t know – find someone you trust to help you understand the basics.

5. Play Mrs. Nice Guy. Women often have excellent intuitive and social skills, which work in our favor in business. We develop relationships, make people feel comfortable and we truly desire to help others. But we tend to be too nice, showing empathy and granting extensions and exemptions to employees and vendors. Sometimes it’s our compassion that leads to a nice big mess in business. This is my biggest downfall. This is where I let my feelings take over at the expense of my business. This is where I forgive and forgive and forgive (letting the resentment and frustration build up inside).

Proceed with Caution!

Now it’s time to set boundaries. Once you figure out your weakness (like hiring someone you know from church who promises to solve all your problems), then set up a structure in  your business to protect your interests. Maybe it’s a contract or written agreement. Or perhaps it is a financial incentive for finishing the job on time or within budget. Be very clear about what you understand and agree to, as well as what the deliverables and deadlines are. Then put checkpoints in place to re-evaluate and reassess.

This is what it means to put on our “big girl panties” and act like the businesses owners we are!  It’s not easy, and I certainly haven’t perfected it, but every time we stretch ourselves in the entrepreneurial role, we learn and grow. And if you truly believe that your business is part of God’s purpose for you, then he will equip you with the confidence and courage to lead and serve as he has called you to do.

Now it’s your turn: have you made a bad business decision that taught you a lesson? Share your insights with us!

Theresa Ceniccola is a mother, writer and entrepreneur with a passion for connecting other Christian women and helping small business grow. As a marketing and PR professional, she launched TGC Communications, LLC in 1994 and has been working from home to serve clients and follow her passion while raising a family.  She is also co-founder of, a guided journaling practice dedicated to helping people discover the health benefits of writing. You can connect with Theresa on her blog at

Publication Date: June 20, 2012