I remember taking a class a few years ago in which the instructor told us the United States is a great place for entrepreneurs because our culture offers more allowance for failure than many other cultures.
Hearing this I thought “That may be true but failure is still pretty fucking painful even here in the United States.”
As an entrepreneur I see failure addressed in two ways:
- An almost perverse delight when a “Golden Boy” falls in a big, messy public way. For example, the media has been loving former software billionaire John McAffee who has seemingly gone off the deep end hiding out in the jungles of Belize doing drugs, hoarding weapons, and accusing the Belize government of aiding Islamist terrorists.
- Completely forgetting the failure when the “Golden Boy” bounces back and has a success. Steve Jobs and Apple are a great example.There was a time when it was an annual ritual to publish an article if not an entire issue about “What will it take to save Apple?” But when Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, that dark time was a blip on the radar compared to the amazing string of hits Apple put out once Jobs was back as CEO: the imac, ipod, iphone, and ipad not to mention iTunes and Apples stores.
So there are two extremes:
- Failure is like watching a traffic accident and looking for mangled bodies and blood.
- Failure is glossed over like a dark family secret…especially if the person who failed has a great comeback.
Neither way is very helpful for me as an entrepreneur who wants to make her business into something really big and beautiful. It’s like if I do fail, it’s going to be really painful and everyone is going to look at me with pity, glee, or a mixture of both. And my only hope is to come back with a big success that will hopefully make everyone forget how I failed.
Does this make me want to take more risks and fail? Especially in a really public way? FUCK NO!!
What I find myself longing for is for more small business owners and entrepreneurs to talk about how they experience failure in an honest, open way. I was going to say experience failure in a “graceful way” but in my case I already censor myself so much I need fewer rules not more!
So in the spirit of “walking my talk” I’m going to share what feels like my biggest shortcoming. Typically I’d wait a while, like ten years or so, for the pain to get manageable to write about. However, I have no right to criticize other business owners as “wimps” if I’m not willing to do it myself.
Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can’t Teach
I’m pretty critical of the empty claims I see a lot of businesses making in their marketing which makes it really painful for me being the teacher who teaches what she, herself can’t do.
Case in point:
Being an Expert for Creating Successful Information Products
I genuinely love creating content and creating information products. Over the last decade I’ve created and launched quite a few programs and products through my business, Highly Contagious Marketing.
I wish I wish I could tell people to look at what I did as an example of how they, themselves can create information products that express who they are and what they stand for as business owners. And I especially wish I could be an example of how to earn a lot of passive revenue selling information products.
The truth is that while I very much enjoyed creating all the products I created and creating the content I created, I don’t think I’ve earned even $1,000 through the sales of my products.
And upstairs in my attic are about $2,500 in books I self-published and recapped maybe $400 in my investment.
Being an Example of Having and Generating Obscene Amounts of Money in My Business
I’m very blessed to be married to a man who is in a field that pays well.
If it were me by myself or me being a single mom, there would be no way in Hell that I could have been in business for nearly a decade earning what I’ve been earning.
The one year in which I earned a genuinely decent amount of money, $36,000 was when I was working as a practitioner for the guy who was my coach.
So I have yet to prove that I am a business owner who has been financially successful on her own momentum. This isn’t to say that the work I’ve done over the years hasn’t been a contribution, I know I’ve helped a lot of business owners in a variety of ways. But there’s something really special and beautiful about creating a successful, profitable BUSINESS without requiring someone else to bankroll your success.
Part of me longs for this and part of me wonders if it’s truly possible.
Going back to the “teacher who can’t” it’s embarrassing to be teaching the “Create Your Mojo Money Box” and telling participants how to have more prosperity and abundance in 2013 when I, myself, currently have less than $1,000 in my business checking account and I’m really not sure how I’m going to pay for my website and cover February expenses.
Although there’s always savings to dip into, I spent over $12,ooo on business coaching in 2011 and 2012 and it is truly painful to contemplate spending more and not feeling 100% certain that the success I keep promising my husband “is going to happen next month” is actually going to occur.
It’s Not Time to Give Up
I DO pay attention to my intuition and I’ve never gotten the message to close the business and get a “real job.” If that was the message, that’s what I would do.
But I do wonder “what’s it going to take” to create the traction needed to have a sustainable revenue stream coming in through my business.
There was a time in my life, when I was a miserable corporate drudge when the problems I’m writing about would have been the types of problems I would have dreamed about having.
But as someone who is somewhere in the cave where you can no longer see the light from where you entered and cannot yet see the light from the end, I go back and forth between gratitude where where I’m at and a sense of deep sadness at the prospect that the cave’s end may mean ending my adventure as an entrepreneur if only for a short time.
I wish I was outside the cave’s exit and I could dispense some comforting words of wisdom to people who are in the same place.
But all I can say right now is “I know where you’re at and I know how it feels because I’m right here with you and although I believe things will work out for the best, at the time when they do it may not feel that way.