#FAIL. HOW TO AVOID FAILURE IN BUSINESS.
Dear amazing reader!
A fellow tea-preneur recently reached out to me and asked me a question that I absolutely love, though no one has ever asked me before. She asked to tell her about my "failures" in business and what she should avoid, and this question instantly took me back to when to all the times I felt like giving it all up. This road and decision to start my own business was both the greatest and the most challenging one I ever made.
But before I fill you in on all the rough patches I've been through, I want to make one thing very clear.
The word failure is a really tricky word. Because failure really only happens when you totally stop pursuing something. In this sense, I have not failed in my business journey. I've come close. I've been tempted to quit. But I've never given in to the feeling.
So because failure is actually quitting, I will shed some light based on my experiences of things that can tempt you to quit, so you can avoid them. I hope they help you, at whatever part of your story you are in.
1. Avoid setting your heart on quick growth
Oh, how we so easily forget that Rome wasn't built in a day. That trees don't grow overnight. That even you, as you sit here reading this, were once a baby, who couldn't speak or walk or feed yourself, and look at you now, so many years later.
Greatness takes time.
Want to know about a time in business when the temptation to quit comes?
When you expect your business to be an international sensation in two years.
While this does happen to some people, and good on you if you are one of them, the unsung stories of growth and success take much, much longer and much more work.
They say on average it takes five or more years just to turn a profit.
Like a mortgage, the first five years of business are spent paying back the people who took a leap of faith in you, whether that's family, the bank, investors, and suppliers.
It's easy to get impatient with the process. But just remember- THIS IS THE PROCESS. It takes time.
Do you have an office or a space you work out of? Place a little plant by the window, one that grows with water and sunshine, to remind yourself daily that growth takes time, and anything that sprouts to quickly most likely does not have a strong foundation, and will eventually come toppling down.
2. Avoid doing it for the money
I'll never forget this one Sunday that I went to open my store, it was about four weeks since we opened those doors for the first time. It was freezing cold (January in Canada) and it got dark by 4:30pm.
I stood at the counter for hours, just looking at the door. I cleaned. I swept. I checked my emails. I tried to find music that would keep me company. I don't think there was a soul in the world who was thinking about T By Daniel, let alone thinking to come to our store that day.
And just at around closing time a gentlemen bundled up in a a big jacket, gloves and a yellow scarf came through those doors.
Someone actually came.
He ordered two lion chai and a cookie. He spent a total of $8.00.
He left, and the last half hour of that day were totally silent. When closing time rolled around, I turned off the open sign, locked the doors, counted my till and brought my $8.00 home.
EIGHT guys. Eight dollars. That's it.
When we shared the story with my family we all just sat there a laughed our heads off. My father in law to the rescue joked with me and told me " Don't worry, tomorrow you'll make double!"
And I did.....the next day I made $17. (LOL)
In times like this, its hard to see better days. And it's times like these where if you thought you were just gonna open your doors and people were going to start flooding into your store or booking your services you quickly learn that things don't quite work like that.
Starting your business is half the battle. Maintaining what you started, now that's the war.
Don't do it for the money. Money comes and money goes. There have been days where we have made more money then what I would I make in a month working for someone else. But those are not the days that built my character. It was the $8.00 day that showed me who I really was.
If you focus on the money, I guarantee you, you will be tempted to quit on the slow days,
and remember quitting=failure.Set your sights on better days and keep hustling!
3. Avoid publicly announcing anything until it's set in stone.
It's so tempting to share exciting opportunities and new about things that are happening in your business.
You just met a huge potential client.
You met someone really influential who looks like they are interested in your products or service.
Your thinking about going back to school to strengthen your skill so you sent an application.
As wonderful as it feels to share the news just beware. In the event that something doesn't end up going through, for whatever reason, you are going to feel the need to explain this to whoever you announced it to. And even if you don't feel like you need to explain, sometimes they will hold you accountable to it.
"I thought you said you were working with...."
"I thought you were going back to school..."
"I thought this place was going to carry your products..."
Why should we have to explain the things that fall through to others? We don't.
But we open the door to having to explain ourselves when we announce pertinent news in it's early stages. Allow your relationships, opportunities, thoughts and ideas to sit for a bit. How we feel today may not be how we feel tomorrow. Something that is great now, may be the worst decision a week from now.
Reporting to people especially about things we really wanted to happen, but didn't can make us feel down and discouraged. So let each potential opportunity soak in the soil for a bit, and once it's starts sprouting, than share the exciting news.
4. Avoid taking on too many projects at once.
The beauty of business is you call the shots. You are the creative director of your company, and with that can come endless ideas and opportunities. Trust me, I know this firsthand.
I am the self-proclaimed queen of ideas.
But unless you have a team to back you, the more ideas you bring to life, the more you will spread yourself thin.
As much as we'd like to believe we can do it all, we have a better chance of succeeding if we choose one thing and do it really well. Once you master that area, and you have the adequate support, you can spread your wings again.
Three years into opening our first tea shop, I started a marketing company, mostly because I knew Dan and I had a natural knack for branding, and partly because I was tired of working behind the counter and felt like I wanted to do something different. It was amazing, people booked, we were busy, and having so much fun.
But we quickly went from one client, to having people on a waiting list. I was pinned again, not behind a counter but this time behind my computer, busting my brain, while trying to keep my staff in the store motivated, and my customers happy. Oh and did I mention- I was also pregnant at the time ( no sweat!).
After a financially successful year, lots of great clients and projects later, I was the most stressed I had ever been. And so, we decided to stop the marketing business, for the sake of our sanity. A great idea, just a bit premature.
Its hard to tell someone with an entrepreneurial spirit to slow down, master one thing and build from there. But it's the advice that will work to your benefit in the long run. I know when you have an idea it feels like if you don't do it now, you're missing out. But trust me, you aren't.
There is always room for the things you are passionate about.
Remember there are 7 billion people on the planet. There will always be someone who will love and appreciate what you're doing, whenever you decide to do it and are able to do it efficiently.
5. Avoid trying to do everything perfectly
We all have a little vision in our mind of how we want our business to be.
How we want our packaging to look, or how our website should be designed, or how beautifully curated our Insta-feeds have to be before we launch our idea into the world.
I am a low-key perfectionist though you would never know, because my amazing husband constantly pushes me out of my comfort zone, and encourages me to focus progress over perfection. If it weren't for him, I'd probably still be tweaking the placement of my logo on the header of my blog, waiting for the perfect moment to launch it.
Perfection stifles growth.
Because it's unrealistic, and often unattainable especially when you are just starting something for the first time.
Perfection also changes. A design you love today, is not one you will love next year. A logo you love now, may not be as loveable in a few months. So aiming for perfection in design or waiting for the perfect time is an impossible task.
It's easy to feel like you are not achieving success or feel let down in yourself when things didn't go the way you thought they would.
So rather than focusing on being the perfect entrepreneur, or having the perfect brand, or everything happening at the perfect time, focus on the impact of what you are doing. Who can you help today? What problem are you solving? How can you make someone else's day better. These are the things that will end up feeling the most rewarding when you go to bed at night.
6. Avoid negative people
Negative people are everywhere. Sometimes it's your customers. Sometimes it's you family. Sometimes it's the banker. Sometimes- many times- it's you voice in your own head.
When you set out to something new, something amazing, something exciting, like starting a business, many people will criticize you for it.
"You don't have the money"
"You don't have the experience"
"You're too young"
"You're too old"
"Nobody buys those things anymore"
"Nobody needs that service"
"Why would anyone hire you?"
"Business looks slow today"
"You should quit while you're ahead"
"Don't you feel bad for leaving your kids to go work?"
"You look so tires, you're working too hard"
"A tea shop can't work in this community"
"You should do something more stable"
I have had ALL of these things said to me. Some of which were said to me at really vulnerable times in my life. Some of them I said to myself.
Don't believe these words. Everything looks crazy until it's done. And then everyone wants to do it.
Taking a leap of faith is that exactly. You are stepping out into the unknown. But it's when you step out there that you get to see who you really are. What you're made of. What really matters to you.
I could have given up when I heard these words. But deep down inside, I knew what they were saying wasn't true. If someone had done it before me, than I can do it to. And now I'm here to tell you,if I went through all these challenges and I'm still here, selling tea and writing blogs- you can do it too.
Did you learn any nuggets reading this blog? Please comment below, or share them on social media and tag me @teawithren