Listen, failure does not discriminate and if you’re going into business for yourself you need to understand that failure and entrepeneurship, at times, go hand-in-hand.
But you’ll survive it, and I’ll tell you how.
My biggest business fail (to date) happened with my first venture, Leadership is Bliss (LIB), a professional development service that I started in late April 2017. I thought I had everything going for me — a cute name for the business, a general vision, and legal papers that said I was open for business — all I needed was an event to let all of Columbus know that LIB was here. Naturally, it had to be a cool event. It was going to be a lunch and learn style event where we would brush up on small talk and develop soft skills. I thought a Saturday early afternoon at Easton Town Center in July — less than 3 months after starting — would be perfect and enough time to gain interest, sell cheap tickets and be an overnight success.
To say I was sorely mistaken was an understatement.
By the time the “big” event rolled around, I had only sold two tickets, and only one person showed up. ONE person who I did not know. This amazing woman must’ve taken pity on me and we had a long lunch together. I still remember being on the verge of tears the entire time and counting down the minutes to my event ending. Once it ended, I gave this sweet woman her gift bag, a huge hug, and thanked her for spending time with me and she was reassured me that she couldn’t wait for the next event. I collected my things and walked back to my car.
As soon as the coast was clear, I ugly-cried in my car for about 30 minutes. I returned all of the extra gift bags, stopped talking to my friends for a bit (they didn’t support me so why talk to them), and just stopped working on LIB. I was all-the-way-done with it. I was so disappointed in everything. A few months later, I shut down LIB and turned my attention to other things.
What I didn’t expect after my big flop was how defeated I felt. I didn’t know how or why this event failed and I was too embarrassed to try another event. It was uncomfortable.
In hindsight, what I should’ve done is reveled in the failure. Learned from the failure. Grown from it.
That’s the key to surviving a failure.
When Will Smith’s Instagram story on the importance of failure went massively viral earlier this year it was like an “ah-ha!” moment — it felt like the pep talk we all so desperately needed. His words resonated with me and millions of other people who’ve seen the video.
Why? Because we don’t allow ourselves to fail enough. We’re so unnerved by even the thought of failure. Not just women, but as a society we don’t stress the importance of failure enough. From childhood we’re groomed to fear failure, and perhaps we’re never truly taught how to process a failure in any other way except “don’t ever do that again.”
But success is reserved for those who try it again.
My failure led me to reevaluate the reason I wanted to start a business and what I wanted to do, which led me to creating She Radiates. To me, that’s a win.
In the words of Will Smith, “fail early, fail often, fail forward”. It’s difficult to remember in the thick of your failure, but it’s all apart of your process.