If you’re in this entrepreneurship game, you’ve probably learned a thing or two about failing. And if you haven’t, then I hate to break it to you, but you’ll be there at least once. Failure is a hard, hard experience to go through – more often than not, failure can be so crippling that it stops people from even starting. I’ve been there – A LOT. I mean, so. many. failures. It’s laughable when I’m in a good mood, not so much when I’m not (I mean, that’s normal). Today, I thought I’d talk a little more openly about my past business attempts, what I did wrong + what I’m doing differently this time around (to, hopefully, not fail – at least not so hard). Here are 6 lessons I learned from my past business failures.
1 | Doing like others do / Death by Comparison
When I first started out, I looked to see what others were doing. How they named their business, what colors they were using, the content on their sites, what they offered, etc. Now, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with doing some market research, actually I’d recommend it. But, that shouldn’t keep you from going your own path. At the time, I figured if I did what everyone else was doing, I’d get the same success. But, in actuality, I just lost myself – and failed. That, with the combination of comparing myself with everyone, was the death of me. When you’re doing everything cause others are doing it, it’s so easy to stop loving what you do. It just ends up feeling like a rat race that you’ll never win.
Lesson Learned: Originality is already built in to you, (I mean, you are one of a kind) and that makes you + your business stand out. Don’t let what others are doing dimish your unique self + vision.
2 | Commitment issues
Shiny object syndrome is REAL! Look, I believe we’re all on some level multi-passionates, with hundreds of ideas in our heads, projects to start + goals we want to achieve. So, it can be extremely difficult for any of us to really commit, especially me. I’d start with one idea then get sidetracked by another one – pretty much on a train of never ending business idea tangents. All of which ended up stopping in the middle of their tracks, probably cause I spread out the fuel. Now, I still have multiple projects going, but I’ve learned how to commit to each of them on different levels, meaning letting one be a priority + the others side projects that make take a little more time to get off the ground.
Lesson Learned: Focus + follow through! Even if you want/have multiple projects, make sure you’re following through with one before starting another.
3 | Doing it all for the money
If you’re building a business, you need to make money. That is a fact. But the reason you start a business, should not be only for the money. You have to have a stronger why, a deeper passion + a better reason. Honestly, if you want more money, get another job. It’ll be quicker, faster + more consistent when it comes to actually making money. But building a business is hard. It’s a ton of hard work + what keeps you going is not going to simply be to make money. I say this out of experience. I started businesses for the money and my desire to work on them just wasn’t there long term. Hence, them failing.
Lesson Learned: Find your why + embrace. If you haven’t seen Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, watch here. Start a business with the possibility of not making any money for a while and see if you’re still down. If you are – then go for it!
4 | Consistency (or lack there of)
Whether it was posting on social, marketing, designing, connecting, networking, etc. I lacked consistency. From my messaging to my branding to what I was putting out in the world. It may hurt your ego (cause it sure did mine) but if you’re not being consistent, you’re not doing your job, at least not well. And, I was def not doing my job well.
Now, I will say that consistency looks different for everyone. It doesn’t mean posting every.single.day, it may be posting once a week or once a month. Consistency shows reliability. If you’re not reliable, what do you think your potential customers are going to think or assume of your product/service?
Lesson Learned: 2 words – stay consistent.
5 | Not doing what I wanted
One of the more prominent reasons for my past businesses failing was that I simply wasn’t doing what I wanted. This point kind of goes back to my first (the whole comparing myself + doing what others were doing). Most times, I kept feeling like I wasn’t myself, I wasn’t acting or being myself and it was extremely isolating. I felt that I had to be perfect in order to get ahead and that left me uninspired, afraid to take changes or risks, as if I couldn’t talk or say what I wanted and more important that who I was wasn’t really enough. I stopped doing what I wanted and what made me happy. It kept me from getting excited, kept me in front of my TV (cause working from home meant I could do that haha) and worried that I’d be caught for being a ‘fake’. It was draining + still is when I feel that way. The one thing I knew I wanted was to have a business I loved. One that let me create, the way I wanted to, help people, in any way I could + make a living. Truly, what was the point if I had to compromise myself.
Sometimes taking a step back is great for business + your life. It allows you to take inventory of what’s working + what’s not and then do things better. Do better for your business, your clients/customers + ultimately yourself. (Which is what I’m all about now!)
Lesson Learned: Follow your gut + do what you want. It’s your life + it’s your business, you call the shots!
6 | Lack of Marketing
Raise your hand if you’re like me and thought that you’d get a ton of clients/customers just because you ‘launched’ your business? I’m saying, like thinking that without barely even telling your family + friends what you were starting? Yup! That was me. In my defense, I did start posting some social media posts thinking that if I did that I’d get loads of clients. Well, reality is – marketing is crucial to your business success. You have to tell people what you’re doing (over and over and over again). It’s easy to expect people to find you and instantly fall in love, but that’s not how it works. You have to promote, share the benefits + play the long game. For most of my businesses, I did minimal marketing and the results (lack there of) don’t lie.
Lesson Learned: Market, market, market! Tell the world, shout it out + don’t be afraid to share what you’re doing with, well, everyone!
These 6 lessons I learned from my past business failures were hard to learn, even more so talk about. But, my hope is that you’ll learn from these earlier than I will and start your business off on the right foot. You shouldn’t be afraid of failing, failures teach you amazing lessons. You learn to shake them off and once you get better, you’re able to take more risks, chances + have more fun with your business. I know, that even now, there’s still a possibility of failing but if I do, I know I’ll come out stronger. So don’t be afraid to fail, go after your dreams + do what makes you happy!
LEAVE A COMMENT! What’s one out of the 6 lessons I learned from my past business failures that you relate to the most?