Four Ways Failure Grew My Business
When I first started my business about 4 years ago, I remember people telling me how it takes a long time to get your business to the place you want it to be, lots of failures were headed my way, blah blah blah. I listened to them, but for some reason I didn’t let it stop me. I thought that maybe I would be immune to the normal struggles of starting a business. Or that I wouldn’t let those “failures” stop me. Whatever it might be, here I am 4 years later with a business BETTER than I could have dreamed of.
But that’s not what we are here to talk about today.
I want to take a walk down memory lane to tell you a little about where I came from and why it matters. You see, I’ve been showing up and working and pressing on for 4 years. I have not been making money or seeing growth for that long. There have been times where I wanted to give up. Where it felt pointless. And where I thought my dreams weren’t worth chasing. But through all of that, I kept getting back up and moving forward.
When I first started my business, I was sure that failure would destroy me. So I avoided it at all costs. And I quickly learned that 1. You don’t get to decide if failure happens to you or not and 2. That failure isn’t really “failure.” What I mean is this: “failure” doesn’t mean you’re at the end of your road. It means you tried something, it didn’t work, and now you have more data to decide what to do next time and you’re just ONE STEP closer to finding what works. When you “fail”, it is not the universe or God saying “no” to your plan or idea. It’s you learning about what works and what doesn’t work. And what’s even better, is that sometimes it’s just timing that is off. Sometimes you try something at the wrong time.
There are 4 experiences in my business that at the time felt like failure, but now on the other side, I realize that they were so much more than that. And these experiences actually helped me get to where I am supposed to be and helped me become stronger and smarter.
My Four Failure Experiences that actually propelled me forward:
Launching products: When I first started selling products in my online shop (it was Etsy in the beginning), I had no strategy or sense to it. I would just upload a shop listing, craft a little Instagram caption and cross my fingers that people would buy it! Well, that never happened. And I was always so disappointed about it. What I didn’t know at the time was this: there is strategy behind launching a new product and you have to train your audience to know what to expect. So, multiple failed “launches” after another led to a tear-filled phone call with my mom where I honestly asked her if I should give up. It was hard and I wasn’t making money and it was discouraging. What felt like failure was ACTUALLY me just learning about consumerism, what works, and what doesn’t work. Which has all come together to form my current launch strategy and system. Which works.
Cheers glasses: My 2016 holiday collection included cocktail tumblers with the word “cheers” etched into the glass. When they arrived I loved them and I thought they were going to be such a great addition to the shop! I took the most beautiful pictures of them and created a little cocktail recipe to go with. I was feeling like I was finally “killing it”. When the time came to launch the products, they fell completely flat. I mean FLAT. Meaning: I sold two sets. TWO. Some might call this failure. I certainly felt that way at the time. But fast forward two years later when I was creating products for my 2018 Holiday line and I decided to do another try of the “cheers” glasses. This time I picked a gold foil imprint with a gold rim. I said a little prayer in hopes that it would work this time, and it did!! They sold incredibly well. That “failure” in 2016 taught me more about what my audience likes and doesn’t like. Which is incredibly valuable information that makes me a stronger, wiser, and smarter business owner.
Cease + Desist: In the spring of 2017 I launched some new products, one of them being some wine glasses that read “yes way, rosé”. I was actually really excited about them! They had gold lettering and a fun shape. I remember having one of my friends come over to help me with a photoshoot and I took a bunch of styled photos of the glasses. I was so excited! I launched them and within hours I received a few messages from some other shop owners that they had tried to sell “yes way, rosé” glasses too and received a Cease and Desist from a company. For some reason I wasn’t worried. A few hours later I received an email I never thought I would receive. It was a Cease and Desist. At first I took the offensive and did a bunch of research to try and see if they were legitimate. And they were! I found their trademark and immediately took the shop listing down. Again, others might see this as failure, but I saw this as a huge lesson. I learned about trademarks and taking time to make sure I wasn’t infringing upon them again. Huge lesson learned! And now a funny story :)
Launching educational resources: At the beginning of 2017 I made a great idea to host an Instagram challenge (#theheartfeltgrid) and at the end of the challenge, I launched a downloadable Instagram guide and it went so well! I was thrilled. It was my first experience with an influx of orders and I got hooked. So, I thought I should try adjusting my business to be part product shop, part educational resources for business. I worked on this for about a year and it went fine, but there was no huge explosion of growth. In all honesty, I believe it confused my audience. I was trying to do two different businesses as one. Even though this wasn’t a complete failure, it definitely taught me more about my audience and what they wanted from me! In the span of a year, I hosted 4 online challenge, and they were great! But they didn’t give me the results I wanted. So, I took this into consideration and decided to adjust my business a little bit. This resulted in me launching my Product Shop Mastermind which has been a massive success! Learning that my business should primarily focus on the product side of business allowed me to really hone in on that and my audience flourished because of it (and so did my sales!). That year of trying new things and exploring what it might look like to expand my offerings helped me find my niche and what my audience really wanted
While all of these circumstances felt like defeat at the time, there were huge lessons to be learned for my business and for my mindset as the CEO of my business. If you’re in the trenches or feel like you just had a huge failure, let this be a reminder to you that things aren’t as horrible as they seem! And that there is always a lesson to be learned and a takeaway. In all honesty, I am incredibly grateful for these missteps or else I wouldn’t be where I am today!
And these are only 4 instances of “failure” in my business. There are plenty more and more to come. I welcome them with open arms because I know it’s only making me better, stronger, and wiser.