Every entrepreneur has been there. We’re bursting with ideas and enthusiasm and we come out of the box swinging. Sometimes we go down in flames. If you’ve ever had to get back up, dust yourself off and try again, then you’ve experienced this firsthand.
I often tell my employees that failure is a lateral move. You didn’t get ahead but it’s not always a step backward either. Adding a few failures to your track record just shows the world that you are a survivor.
So next time a prospect tells you no or a deal falls through or you spend a bunch of money on a project that goes nowhere, remember these four things about failure.
Failure sometimes spotlights what IS working in your business
As entrepreneurs, we love to try new things and too much of that is not always good. It’s easy to spread your resources too thin, and too many irons in the fire can dilute some of the amazing energy you give to your company every day. Inevitably, something is bound to fall apart, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Sometimes failure shines a spotlight on what IS already working in your business and you can capitalize on that.
Many years ago, when I was just getting my agency off the ground, I let a friend convince me to try direct mailers to seniors for my Medicare insurance agency.
I wanted to be committed to online marketing but since he knew a competitor who was having great success with carrier-branded mailers, I wondered if I was missing out.
So, we spend a few thousand dollars and many, many work hours coming up with just the right mailers for this project. Then we launched and waited.
The mailers totally flopped.
I could have let it get me down but I realized something in the process: what works best for his business doesn’t have to be what works best for mine. The whole experience led me to further conviction that pursuing an online business model was the right thing for us.
We canned the mailers and went all-in on online marketing, putting out epic content on our blog for people new to Medicare. The business surged forward.
Failure Encourages Soul-Searching
That gut-level conviction can sometimes also lead you to some heavy-duty business contemplation.
Do love what you are doing? Do you love the process? Does the thrill of the hunt still excite you? These are signs that you are on the right path.
If you don’t feel these things, you’ll find yourself doing some soul searching. Sometimes this leads to another path, and you can confidently move in that direction. Other times it leads you to the inspiration you really need to succeed on your next try.
So next time you commit a business gaffe, check in with yourself: do you still wake up excited every day to be doing what you are doing? If not, think about what you can do to right the ship.
Failure Makes You Authentic
Another thing about failure is that it breeds character. We’ve all heard that when you get knocked off the horse, you’ve got to climb back up and try again. DOING that though is an exercise in perseverance that leads to good things.
I’ve always thought that being humble is a character trait that everyone should aspire to. It’s hard to wear big britches when you’ve had your face in the mud, right?
Next time you fail at something in your business, remember that humility makes your more relatable to your clients and your employees, who will appreciate you for being real. It makes you authentic. Cherish that.
Victories Easily Won Are Not Nearly as Sweet
Finally, let’s face it – we savor success so much more when we got there AFTER having to dust ourselves off and try again.
My first year in the insurance business I earned $13,000. I remember living on peanut butter to make ends meet. You would think that those years of struggling are something you’d want to put behind you, but I find that the opposite is often true.
Now that we are a multi-million-dollar agency, I look back fondly on those early days when I was swinging for the fences and not connecting yet. I can admire my early efforts and often also laugh at them. Ultimately though, I’m proud of not giving up.
Go ahead and fail and then give yourself a break. It’s just one more step toward the ultimate success that’s out there waiting for you.
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