Setting up a business and handling setbacks

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Article provided by Margo Leftly, Founder and Director, Healthier Recruitment

In any career, you’re bound to encounter setbacks, whether these be a result of your own actions or someone else’s.

If you’re in the process of launching your own business, this is going to be amplified even further. However, experience has taught me that a degree of failure is just a natural part of setting and achieving goals. At Healthier, I started out with a laptop and a mobile phone, and now have a committed team servicing clients and candidates across the whole of the UK. However, the road has been anything but smooth, and there have been times where hurdles have left me questioning whether it would happen at all. Despite this, with the right attitude and actions, these difficulties can fuel your long-term success. So, here’s my advice to women out there on setting up a company and coping with challenges.

Fear is natural

In my opinion, it continues to be more difficult for females to succeed in any market driven environment – you only have to look at the underrepresentation of women at senior level and the gender pay gap to see that we are far from a level playing field. While this is unfortunate, when viewed as challenge to rise to, instead of a barrier to entry, this could be what gives you the edge over your competition. As long as you know your market and business strategy through and through, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t trust your gut and go for it. Having the confidence to actually execute your ideas is key to success. Nothing worthwhile was achieved without taking risks. While fear of failure or embarrassment is natural, you have to learn to harness it to overcome stumbling blocks.

Challenges will come fast

The challenges will come thick and fast. In my early days of setting up Healthier, one of the hardest things was working completely alone. Going from working underneath someone else to being your own boss is daunting. In my previous role, the corporate structure – and level of direction and support that it offered – made things fairly straightforward. However, having full autonomy over setting targets and accountability to yourself can be somewhat difficult to get used to. Yes, there’s freedom, but this has the potential to be overwhelming, especially when you are managing others. The early days can be the worst. When you are on your own with no one to share the highs and the lows with, vent with or celebrate with, this can be very tough.


That’s why resilience is so important. Having the foresight and strength to know the reason why you are doing what you are doing will allow you to keep going. Driving through challenges may not be easy, and thick skin is essential. It is a sad fact that, as a young woman in particular, people may fail to take you seriously and will underestimate your ability – however, this should not be seen as a drawback. Instead, you should use the naivety of others to your advantage: more power to you if people underestimate you – it means you’ll be more likely to catch them off-guard and smash them out the park.

Managing relationships

When your business reaches a stage where you need to bring on staff, make sure you make choices for the right reasons. A start-up is like your baby, and lots of people will try to take advantage. When a business is small, one or two bad apples can really rock the cart. This makes judging character and a robust recruitment and screening process extremely important. On the other hand, learning to trust others is also essential. Therefore, finding the right balance is so crucial and managing relationships is key. It is important to retain your humanity, but make sure there is a strong line between personal and business relationships where the two can’t interfere with each other. Finally, don’t expect anyone in your business to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. Through sticking to this rule, regardless of how large or quickly the company grows, you can be sure to create processes that work in the long term – and that you make mistakes before your staff do.

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