Your business is going to fail, fail again, fail again and fail again. This will continue over and over and over until suddenly, one day, you won't fail. If you're smart, you will figure out what you did that didn't fail. Then you will try to do that over and over in new and creative ways until you learn lots of different ways you can succeed.
When talking about starting a business most people start with the last part about finding success. I chose to start with the first part because this is where most people quit.
In business this process is repeated again and again. Every time you want to offer a different service, reach a different audience, use a different marketing campaign or any other expansion or growth you will be following this fail, fail, fail, succeed process.
The biggest difference between an experienced entrepreneur and a novice is that we have learned how to study other people who are being similarly successful to how we want to be successful to help us figure out how to try. Our experience helps us go from failing dozens or hundreds of times to only a few or even a couple. Then once we find success we are better at guessing and testing the boundaries of that success. The problem with this experience is that we will sometimes write off a valuable opportunity because past evidence indicates it won't work. However circumstances change. Trying something which seems dumb sometimes yields incredible results. Here is where the painful frustration of being a beginner can bear the best fruit. Trying what nobody else will try will eventually make your name!
Each new business will always feel like the hardest yet. You will almost assuredly spend months working absurd hours for far less than minimum wage. If you are smart you will surround yourself with other entrepreneurs who help you know when to hold, when to fold and when to bet everything.
Your first income will be like a few drops of rain in a desert, but little by little you will find ways to earn more and more efficiently. Your hourly pay will start climbing and eventually you will be earning enough to hire someone else.
Here is where you will have a huge decision to make: Do I keep this income source for myself? Do I hire help and expand? Do I sell to someone else who wants to hire?
I have normally chosen to seek to automate more and more to minimize how much I need to hire help. I disliked training and felt frustrated at the pace most employees learn and work. However, I'm shifting that little by little. Over the last few years I've hired contractors for larger repetitive projects, and little by little I’m training consistent part-timers to help with the absurd number of tasks and projects on my plate. I will eventually be teaching them to be a “mini-me.”
Your early successes will be strongly tied to you. YOUR customers. YOUR vendors. YOUR network. The reason I mentioned this question is that it will take time for you to learn how to adjust your business to not rely on YOU, but instead rely on your team and your business processes.
I lost 50% or more of my customers nearly a half a dozen times trying to make this transition in my computer and website businesses. This is where people start seeing you as being a “sell out” or becoming a “soulless corporation.” Your new business will attract a different kind of customer. Sometimes its a good choice… sometimes not. There are a lot of people willing to trade “good enough” service/quality for the personal touch. If you remove some of the personal touch they value, your necessary quality and service will need to improve a LOT. Sometimes no matter what you do it won’t be enough. For some customers personal relationships are mandatory, and if you stop being as available as part of your growth, the customers will find the next new person who’s willing to be available.
Back to failure. This is why you have to be willing to fail. You think I was warning you to be willing to fail at the beginning? The biggest warning is to be willing to fail AFTER you succeeded. Nothing forms a jail cell like success. When you find something that works for you its tempting to just keep doing it. Heck if you’re happy doing so then go for it!
But then there are serial entrepreneurs like myself and others. We crave change, growth and adventure. After years of exhaustive struggle, success seems peaceful. We finally have what we were struggling for this entire time. We settle in for a while and bask in our rewards, but then the bug hits us. We see new opportunities. We feel the need to work for something new.
If we are wise we will make plans and strike off, but this is where the fear of failure hits hardest. We know the hardships we are signing up for! We have success. Its peaceful waters allure us, offering simplicity and comfort.
If you are hearing the call though don’t allow yourself to be distracted. What seems like a simple choice is anything but. Once we hear the call to growth and change our comfortable little world is already doomed. The more we avoid the call the more our lives will fall apart. What once seemed impressive and wonderful starts to feel small and confining. Money isn’t enough, prestige isn’t enough. When the development toward the next stage is the primary calling nothing other than heeding the call and moving forward will suffice.
Make your peace with failure. Strike off and work for the change and growth with a passion. Accept that you may lose much or everything of what you’ve already found, but that along the way you have transformed. You have become someone who knows yet another way to succeed. If you fail mightily you will be able to use your old skills, knowledge and relationships to pick yourself up before you try again.
By accepting failure we become someone dynamic. We allow new opportunities and lessons into our lives and understand our personal power in greater depth than most will ever understand. This advice is true for all of life. The most powerful person isn’t the one who found success and held onto it. It is a person who learns the lessons both failure and success offer and keeps moving forward.