Reality Bites: Don’t expect setbacks, but expect to deal with them

Startups' very own Young Gun and The Apprentice star Jackie Fast gives an insight into the tough BBC reality show - and the key lessons she learned when it comes to coping with failure

In a three-part series, Reality Bites, Young Gun, Jackie Fast gives an exclusive insight into her experiences on the BBC’s hit-show The Apprentice, including the lessons she learned each week and how she has applied them in business. 

For her first blog, Fast talks dealing with setbacks – from 4am wake-ups on the show to stress coping mechanisms…

Far too often, people hesitate when taking the leap to starting a business or doing something different with their current business because they feel like they haven’t thought everything through well enough.  

The truth is that it’s impossible to think of every possible variation for failure, which is the reason so many want-repreneurs don’t launch.

In The Apprentice we do not have that luxury because even when people hesitate to put themselves forward – as we saw with Kurran’s reticence with being the project manager – Lord Sugar will make it happen. And just like Kurran and our team ‘Team Collaborative’, not everything went as smoothly as everyone had hoped.

The possibility of failing is overwhelming, and I spent many sleepless nights going into The Apprentice boardroom with little else to get my mind off it. This is reflective of how I used to feel when problems with my start-up seemed insurmountable. But I learned that being able to deal with setbacks in business is what will sort the wheat from the chaff (as Lord Sugar would put it).

Here are my personal coping techniques for dealing with setbacks and failure:

Recognise Stress

I am someone who could work 20 hours a day, every day of the week for six months solid and not think I was feeling stressed – especially if I loved what I was doing.  

I used to think my robotic-ness was an asset to being a great entrepreneur, but soon realised it is quite the opposite. By not realising the pressure I was putting on myself, my body eventually broke down and I had some serious complications that were caused directly from stress. Following this incident, I had to learn to recognise my reaction to stress as it’s different from the way most people react.

My personal signs of stress are insomnia, constantly eating Haribo, and a sore elbow. Not necessarily signs most people would spot!

Find ways to cope

Being able to deal with stress in a rational way is hugely important to being able to look at a situation with fresh eyes and come to a viable solution. Stress brings out the worst in people, which is what makes The Apprentice so entertaining. Would I have messed up the name Jet Pop if I was calmly pitching our airline in my own flat to my husband? Probably not.

The start-up journey is filled with highs and lows, which is what makes it exhilarating, but being able to deal with the lows will help you enjoy the highs that much more.

My personal strategy is acupuncture and forcing myself to go to my 6:30am spin classes at Shoreditch House. I am far from a morning person, which means those 4am wake up calls from Lord Sugar’s office (yes that is actually the way we get woken up!) were the bane of my life. But without those classes, I feel much less prepared mentally and physically to firefight through my working day during a challenging ‘low’ period in the office.

Move On

As mentioned, a start-up is filled with incredible highs and lows and one of the most important lessons to remember is that in time this too shall pass. If nothing else can brighten your day, just remember in a month or even a year from now, the problem that you are dealing with will eventually be a distant memory from the long journey that will be your business and your career. Ensure to keep perspective and keep your chin up.

Even for Elon Musk, failure is inevitable so rather than trying to avoid failure, figure out how to deal with failure – that’s what makes someone a great entrepreneur. I’ve learned these lessons over several business ventures and will be applying them to my new start up ice wine business REBEL Pi and in The Apprentice, although you might see that my coping mechanisms falter in the upcoming gardening task!

More start-up tips can also be found on my blog: https://jackiefast.com/blog/

Support Jackie Fast on The Apprentice on Twitter and Instagram #TeamWackie

And carry on learning about her The Apprentice journey and business lessons in her second blog for Startups here…