The Rebound: Lessons In Turning Business Failure Into Fortune

As an entrepreneur who has rebounded from a failed business, I've come to learn that resilience is one of the most valuable attributes in any successful businessperson's repertoire.

Photo: Billy Kounoup, owner of PA-based Billy's Diner; Credit: Sarah-Designs.com
Photo: Billy Kounoupis, owner of PA-based Billy’s Diner; Credit: Sarah-Designs.com

Just a few years in the restaurant industry can seem like a lifetime when you’re struggling to compete with more established brands in a relatively small market. Restaurant owners, like many entrepreneurs in B2C verticals, face very unique challenges that can often lead to failure.

As an entrepreneur who has rebounded from a failed business, I’ve come to learn that resilience is one of the most valuable attributes in any successful businessperson’s repertoire.


Look back

The old saying, “hindsight is 20/20”, is certainly accurate–but is it helpful when planning for the future? Absolutely! Looking back at your missteps and learning from them is a crucial component if you want to create a better business model.

The essence of a truly resilient entrepreneur stems from understanding the weaknesses of an organization and applying that knowledge to the next big endeavor. 

Once you’ve identified which elements of your model have (and have not) delivered results, you’ve completed one of the most difficult aspects of building a better business.


F.A.C.E. forward

After you’ve evaluated the past, it’s time to look ahead. Over the years, my experiences have led me to develop what my friends and family refer to as “Billy-isms.”


Photo: Nikita Vantorin, Unsplash
Photo: Nikita Vantorin, YFS Magazine

One of my favorites is “F.A.C.E.” – an acronym for Focus, Attitude, Commitment and Ethics.

  • Business owners need to focus on their goals and their brand. If your previous venture failed, focus on the aspects that were successful and build your brand accordingly.
  • Attitude is also important, as a business can only grow under positive guidance. Entrepreneurs who maintain an optimistic, forward-thinking attitude are more likely to see their business flourish.
  • Your commitment is a must; statistics have shown that uncommitted management is one of the most prevalent causes of failure among small businesses.
  • Most importantly, ethical practices are critical to success. Your employees, clientele and community will count on you to hold your business to a high standard and you should take pride in leading an ethical organization.

I apply the core concepts of F.A.C.E. to every one of my endeavors. I consider them to be key factors in my success.


Know your brand

After you’ve determined your prior venture’s strengths and weaknesses and apply the F.A.C.E values, it’s time to craft your brand identity. Often times, business owners have difficulty differentiating their new business from their previous attempt and fall into a pattern of repeated mistakes.


Photo: Ruthson Zimmerman, Unsplash
Photo: Ruthson Zimmerman, YFS Magazine

My first foray into the restaurant industry was a vastly different atmosphere than what I’ve found to be successful today. I attempted to create a “high-end” environment with seafood, steaks and a full-service bar. Unfortunately, while the brand I tried to convey may have been a hit in New York or Los Angeles, it wasn’t successful with a smaller, more suburban audience.

I learned that my next establishment needed to be more personal, warm and casual. We created “comfort fare with a flair.” Our menu and decor changed; so did our customer loyalty.

 Since customer loyalty is so essential to a startup’s success, you need to design a brand that will earn the trust of your audience and keep them coming back.


Never back down

I’m living proof that business owners can rebound from failure by remaining true to their brand, their clientele and their values. Ultimately, the most important lesson I’ve learned is to keep your values tied to your professional philosophy.

As a practitioner of “F.A.C.E.” concepts – I’ve seen my business grow from one struggling restaurant to one of my community’s most beloved brands. 

If your attempt at building a successful company falls short, look back, F.A.C.E. forward and don’t give up until you’ve created a brand that your audience loves.


Billy Kounoupis is is the owner of Billy’s Diner, headquartered in Bethlehem, PA with locations in Bethlehem, Allentown and Easton, PA. Billy is also the author of “The IT Factor” and has been featured by numerous local, regional and national media outlets. Connect with @billys_diner on Twitter.



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