No one wants to look like a failure. It can be embarrassing and disappointing, and because of this we often don't talk about our failures in life and in business. But here's the thing, we're human and make mistakes. Most business owners rarely get it right the first time around.
Did you know Walt Disney's first animation studio went bankrupt?
What about how it took J.K. Rowling 7 years to write Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone then to have all 12 major publishing houses reject it?
Or that Oprah was fired from her first job as a television reporter?
Can you imagine if these three and others just gave up after failing? We wouldn't have some of the amazing products, experiences, or inventions that we have today.
I know first-hand how embarrassing it feels when a business doesn't work out. Prior to starting Bold & Pop with Anna, I had 2 other businesses... both of which were not nearly as successful as Bold & Pop.
My first business was a big ole failure and this one was particularly embarrassing for me. I basically built my name off of this first company. I had gotten tons of press. I did plenty of speaking engagements. I appeared to be extremely successful but the company wasn't making any money (and I spent a lot to get it up and running). I held onto this business much too long because I was determined to not let it fail. When I finally decided to close the business down, I didn't want anyone to know it was because I was barely making any money so I told people I was burned out and there was no way to scale the business to grow (both of which were true and part of the decision but not the deciding factor).
While making this decision, I came up with my second business idea. Less expensive to start-up and definitely had the possibility to grow and flourish. This company did much better. However, it still wasn't enough money for me to live off of but it was making more. This was a much easier decision when it came to whether or not to shut this business down. We had started Bold & Pop and it was doing so well that I decided to solely focus on Bold & Pop.
Now listen, I'm using the words 'fail' and 'failure' very loosely here but I don't believe anything is ever a true failure. Here's why:
You learn from your mistakes
Your failures are your greatest lessons but only if you allow them to be. If I didn't make all my mistakes with my first company, I wouldn't have learned for my second and now for Bold & Pop. I knew where to spend money. How to cut expenses. What marketing tactics worked. What parts of the business I enjoyed most. I could leverage what I built from my first company for my second and so on.
If I hadn't made the mistake of investing in a ton of inventory for my first company, I wouldn't have realized that I could start with much smaller batches from manufacturers for my second, saving a ton of money and helping the business be profitable more quickly.
I can't think of one amazing thing that has happened in any of my businesses that wasn't a direct result of learning from a previous mistake.
Makes you a better biz owner
Because you're learning from these failures, it inevitably makes you a better business owner. You learn to:
- Trust your instincts
- Manage people and conflicts
- Pivot quickly
- Cut costs
- Leverage past opportunities and mistakes
- And so much more!
I had some pretty wild things happen with my first business. I received a cease and desist over the original name after filing a trademark on my own. I was almost fined for not having the correct paperwork while importing my first shipment. While I had gone to business school, I was only 21 at the time and had a steep learning curve on how to run a business. These 2 things happened at the very beginning of my business meaning I had to very quickly learn how to manage conflict like this. I had to learn to advocate and stand up for myself when the freight-forwarding company I hired didn't inform me I needed this new form. I had to VERY quickly change the name of the company and figure out a way to rebrand the products I did have from the old name to the new one in an inexpensive way.
These experiences have made me a better business owner because they've taught me valuable skills I wouldn't have learned in any classroom or if things were just to go right for me. It's only through these mistakes and failures that I've learned these key skills.
It takes guts
Starting a business takes some serious guts. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and succeeding in it. In my opinion, it's better to try and fail than not try at all.
No matter what happens in your business, you should ALWAYS feel proud of yourself for trying and for giving it your all. Maybe this business doesn't work out but that doesn't mean for one second you are a failure. Embrace these experiences as lessons to gain valuable skills you can use on the next business venture or use in whatever you decide to do.