Failing. Fail. Failure.
How do you feel about these words?
I’ll tell you how I feel — indifferent. But these words used to bring about a tightness in my chest, a sinking feeling in my stomach, low energy, dissatisfaction, fear, and, sometimes, envy toward everyone who didn’t seem to be failing. Thankfully, I don’t feel that way anymore. These are now just the best words to describe something that didn’t work out. So, I totally understand if you’ve used these words before, but next time, don’t say, “I failed.” Instead, say, “I haven’t succeeded yet,” or, “I have come up against a challenge.”
I’ll try not to get too deep and heavy. I was writing this on a sunny day in Italy. It was morning and I was in my bright pink checkered pajamas and comfy hoodie. It wasn’t a time to get heavy.
I feel the time has come to share a little bit of my story with you from the last few years because in a few more years, I will have forgotten the early stages of building a business. Maybe this moment and the thoughts I have on failure can help a new business owner who has just left their 9-to-5.
The first idea will set you free, but not in the way you think
My story is the same as thousands of others. I didn’t like my corporate job, so I left and set out to start my own business.
When I left my job, I had zero business experience, very little interpersonal skills, and zero personal development skills. I had extremely poor emotional development and a complete lack of focus.
At that time, I thought I was going to change the world in a heartbeat. Now, I am beginning to understand the only thing I needed to change was myself. I did have enough sense to realize that this was kind of a big change—leaping out of a steady paycheck and career path into a blank space to create a vision for my future from scratch.
I had money saved and booked several months to go and volunteer at a retreat center in Spain. It was here that my first business idea was formed—well, a name and a concept: City Calm.
Photo credit: Pixabay.
I wanted to help people who are stressed out and overworked in the city to feel at ease and stay connected with themselves and others.
Just with the details I’ve given so far, I hope you can now understand why I was not in a position to show anyone the path to embody any kind of peace or tranquility in a city. I had just run away from one and was hiding out at a yoga retreat in Spain, decompressing and trying to come up with a plan.
City Calm failed.
At that time, I thought I was going to change the world in a heartbeat. Now, I am beginning to understand the only thing I needed to change was myself.
Well, at least for now, it is permanently calm to the point of being asleep.
But moving into creating this “business” helped me to start to piece together the skills I was lacking and develop a lot of clarity and direction I would never have found otherwise. And that is why I said earlier that the first idea will set you free, but probably not in the way you think.
I have seen this pattern repeated so many times! People leave their jobs then come up with an idea to help others in an area where they actually need help:
A health coach who struggles with her own health
A motivational coach who finds it hard to stay motivated
A mindfulness teacher who gets constantly pulled back into negative thought (this is me!)
Setting up and running City Calm was awesome. I taught basic mindfulness classes in the park and ran fun events like “A Sand Castle Competition,” “Mindful Journaling,” and “Mindful Coloring.”
I conducted a mindfulness retreat with a highly experienced yogi and neuroscientist who I am still in touch with now—Paresh Mhaispurkar.
I passed around a beautiful bunch of flowers at a top marketing conference full of executives and spoke about universal energy and oneness (still makes me smile from ear to ear when I think of this). The execs were so engaged and interested in learning about mindfulness and even took it back to their teams. It was an absolute dream to teach that class.
It was fun. I’ll be going back running events and retreats in the future; that’s guaranteed. And my practice will continue to grow and develop and I will, without a doubt, start teaching again.
But the company failed.
Here are some key business lessons I learned:
Planning doesn’t generate revenue
We made very little to pretty much no money.
There was no business model. In the first year I actually made nothing. I had to fill in my tax form and the tax office thought there was an error. Nope, I just literally thought writing numbers in a spreadsheet would somehow magically create revenue.
Planning becomes more important as you start to generate revenue. Cash flow planning, in particular, is one I am getting my teeth stuck into right now. Project planning, resource planning, and the like, too, but those only come once you have revenue.
The only reason you need to project future revenue is to make a strategic business decision. Projection planning isn’t there so you can know when you will become a millionaire.
Enjoy the daily process of improving your craft
In the first year, I practiced a lot of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. I was addicted to learning as much as I could on the topic.
In the second year, I started to teach mindfulness. I even put together an online course with Karen, a highly knowledgeable and practiced mindfulness teacher from London (if you are ever in London, check out her classes and events, she is a lovely lady!).
The course was professionally filmed and edited by Leah, an intern who came to work for us for a while. It started to feel like we were making it. We were now modelling the website of a competitor who was raking it in; there was no way this plan would fail. There was a great team of people involved who believed in the vision and the future of City Calm. You should have seen my spreadsheet projections—we were all millionaires!
The course wasn’t bad . It was pretty well-put together and I thank everyone who helped to make it a reality. But the fact is that pretty good isn’t good enough.
But the fact is that pretty good isn’t good enough.
It was going to take a lot of time to get up to the level we needed to be and I didn’t enjoy the process of creating or selling online courses. And that’s another reason why I think the first idea is likely to fail.
In order to succeed long term — to get up there with the likes of Kimra Luna, Kriss Carr, or Marie Forleo, the entrepreneurs we see online and want to emulate — we have to be playing at the very, very top of our game. These guys have been at it for years!
To play at the top we have to put the work in, and you need to enjoy the work. You need to enjoy the daily process of improving whatever it is you are improving. Otherwise, the standard of what you put out isn’t going to be high enough to create the abundant business you crave.
We need to be specific about the actions we do and don’t take, and they have to make you feel good.
Passion for a subject isn’t enough
Photo credit: Pexels.
Having tried both the online and offline versions of teaching mindfulness, I know 100 percent that offline teaching is what I prefer to do. I know I absolutely detest the process of creating courses and marketing them. I don’t get Facebook groups, and I don’t enjoy learning how to make them work. I don’t enjoy testing sales sequences and sales funnels and I have zero desire to set up webinars or start videoing live streams on Facebook.
Going through the process of these activities just takes out all of the joy I had for the subject in the first place. But slowly but surely, I am starting to figure out, mostly through contrast, which activities I enjoy and which activities I don’t.
So, take note: Be specific. Unless you have a high level of self-awareness already, it might take some time to unravel what you do and don’t enjoy.
Using contrast positively
This is the reason why failure is not something negative. It’s neutral. You tried something, it didn’t work.
Why didn’t it work?
This is what I learned:
I use planning to procrastinate, so I keep that in check and work with daily accountabilities and short sprints.
A business needs a robust business model.*
A business needs to generate revenue.*
I don’t want to create or sell courses (unless one day I can afford to work with an expert who can manage the process) .
Sell what I am an expert at, not what I’m mediocre at.
I love running live events and retreats.
*I realize these two are ridiculously obvious, but hey, sometimes knowledge is only fully integrated through failure.
This is an amazing amount of learning and information which I can take forward and put into any new project or business.
I hope this has helped you to understand why it’s absolutely OK to fail. Why don’t we use the comments section as a little reflection center today? Share something you have failed at and what it taught you and let’s learn from each other.
This article was first published on Ginger Marketing blog.