Failing in business was the most toe-curlingly, heart-breakingly, ball-crushingly bad thing that happened to me in 2013 (and I don’t even have balls). If you’ve ever been there, that moment when you have to throw in the towel after scaling that steep and slippery slope, then you’ll know that writing this post is possibly the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done.
You see, you’re not supposed to admit it. To even think those words: “I’m a failure.”
But as painful as it is there are a huge number of lessons we can learn from admitting it and one lesson in particular was a MASSIVE wake-up call for me.
In the spirit of entrepreneurial-camaraderie I’m going to spill the beans of how it all went so terribly wrong and what that big ol’ wake-up call is.
How it played out.
I’ve always loved the idea of being my own boss and sculpting my own business and lifestyle.
With my own business, I could make money on my own terms, decide the focus and direction of my life’s work and generally have the freedom and self-reliance that everybody secretly (or not-so-secretly) craves.
I’d been on a perpetual loop of getting a great job, growing to hate it and swiftly moving onto something new. This new job I had was the worst yet, and when I began to see the reality of how we – as employees – were treated, my desire to be free from bureaucracy came to a head. I wanted to be the person creating jobs and nurturing employees, I wanted to start something with integrity and beauty that cared about its clients and stood for something more than just money-making.
I knew it was possible.
The next thing I knew I was handing in my notice and embarking on creating a business from scratch. It’s true what they say: starting, growing and owning a business is the best personal development experience you’ll ever have. Below are the mistakes I made.
Mistakes I Made:
- I quit my job and left myself without any safety net or alternative income
- I spent far too much money on things that didn’t get me clients or money
- I hired a web designer who didn’t produce what I wanted
- I did absolutely no industry research
- I created a service that didn’t help my potential customers
- I faffed around with unimportant things that didn’t move the business forward
- I gave my service away for FREE!!! (Lack of self-worth, or what?!)
- I didn’t follow my gut instincts but followed other people’s advice
- I spent too much time reading and not DOING
- I avoided networking and meeting people
- I compared myself to big companies that had been in business for years
- I hid behind my laptop
- I spent too much time thinking about my business, working on my business, talking about my business
- I started to hate my business…
I’m only at number 14 and I could go on and on and on! Each of these mistakes has a very obvious lesson behind it and it would take quite some time to go into them in detail. So let me get right down to the nitty gritty of all this…
Let me tell you about the biggest lesson I’ve learned in all this:
Yes, I’m a failure.
Yes, I made a gazillion mistakes in my first attempt at business.
I learned something from every.single.one.
So – I’m in fact not a failure at all… I’m just someone learning through experience…
And isn’t that the best way to learn?
Then it clicked:
Making mistakes is the BEST way to learn! On realising this my whole world changed, everything shifted.
Now I could move on with a new business, happily making messy mistakes and enjoying clearing them up, knowing that it was moving me forwards.
I now knew that you can FEEL like a failure, you can even BE a failure, but you can still LEARN from it.
And that is what the journey of life is: learning and expanding into your greatest potential. You can only do that with a bit of mistake making.
Going out there and putting yourself in a position where you can make head-in-hand mistakes, is the first step towards being a success. No matter how, toe-curling, heart-breaking or ball-crushing it is, it’s all moving you forward towards your dream.
(Note from Denise: Want to read about one of my biggest failures? What I Learnt From Failing Four Years of University)
So, here’s to the mistakes made and the mistakes that we’re yet to make!
Fifi Mills is a blogger and business babe with a big love for the Universe. Her blog provides inspiration for women who own value driven and soul-fuelled businesses (and women that want to!). If that is you then head over to www.fifiscarlett.com.