For the past two weeks, we’ve been discussing the importance of approaching your work with a scientific mindset and using experimentation to learn and grow in your business. This is so you can avoid panic and stress, and so you can eliminate all unnecessary pressure as you put new ideas out into the world.
Today I want to marry these two ideas so you can learn from failures (and wins) to create more success in your business. You’ll see how to analyze your results so you can make intelligent changes to your ideas (however fantastic or not-so-awesome they turned out) and make them more fantastic and awesome next time around.
My First Big Failure
As I told you before, my first product was a total flop. One purchase after hundreds of hours of work left me rather heartbroken.
But as you’re learning so far, the important question is: What did I do after this failure?
Did I investigate what happened?
Did I exhaust every sales option?
Did I troubleshoot it from multiple angles?
Unfortunately… no. Instead, I threw in the towel without another thought. In hindsight, this was a bad idea. But at the time, I didn’t know there was an alternative.
Here’s the good news: You don’t need to make the same mistake I did!
Instead, you will don your scientist’s hat and start investigating.
To guide you through that process, here’s a list of questions you can use, either to recover from a little flop or repeat a big win.
Question 1: Before you do anything, have you reframed any failure thinking?
First, make sure you’re head is not full of failure thinking! This is step number one, and we talked about it a few weeks ago.
Always start here. Failure thinking will inhibit a successful scientific investigation!
Question 2: Did you put enough effort into marketing?
One of the biggest mistakes I see newer entrepreneurs make is not putting enough effort into their marketing.
When I was first starting out, I had no idea how much time, brainpower, and sweat went into things like writing a sales page (I now spend upwards of 40+ hours while downing a cup after cup of coffee.), finding the perfect email headline (I lose handfuls of hair in the process.), or crafting every single word of a killer sales email (I can spend 5+ hours and drink a gallon of kombucha, something I strongly suggest you don’t do.), among a million other little details I’ve learned since.
Here are some things to consider regarding your marketing efforts, as you investigate your business hiccups and freshen up your big plan. Have you…
- Put care and thought into every single word on your sales page and in your sales emails, making sure you’re speaking the language of your customers and demonstrating the life-changing value of what you offer, as seen from the perspective of your customers?
- Given people a deadline to sign up? (And has that deadline passed?)
- Used clear sales language and a specific call to action on your sales page?
- Told your list at least 3 times with thoughtfully crafted emails, headlines, and calls to action? These should be dedicated emails, not off-hand mentions in your weekly email’s introduction or article.
- Referenced your offer in at least 3 separate blog posts?
- Mentioned your offer on every social media channel you’re active on at least 5 times each?
- Personally reached out to people you know via email to tell them about your offer?
- Asked your friends, past clients, supporters, and fans to help you spread the word and given them drop-dead-easy-to-follow Tweetables, Facebook posts, graphics, and email scripts to use?
- Built your list to a point where you can hit your sales goal? (Conversion rates are 1-5%, so hopefully your list has a few hundred people or more on it.)
Question 3: Have you outlined and executed at least 7 backup plans?
When you really want something to work, you’ll go through plans B, C, D, E, F, and all the way to Z if you have to. Tweet that!
For example, when I launched Make It Work, I used a scientist’s mindset as I was crafting my sales plan. I created seven back-up plans, because I wanted to sell out the program! Beyond the obvious sales page and sales emails and social shares, I had a list of many other ways I was willing to market this program to ensure it filled. (Fortunately, it sold out with just one email, so I’m saving those secret backup plans for my next launch.)
Whenever I want something bad enough, I always make seven back-up plans to increase my chance of success. (I’m rather determined that way!)
Question 4: Did you talk it through with others?
When an experiment goes awry, don’t sit alone in your office and try to sort it out all by yourself.
Enlist support from colleagues, your mastermind group, a coach, or someone besides yourself and your dog. If you haven’t talked through it with other people who have insight into your work, go do that – pronto!
We’re so invested in our own work that we’re too close to see where the issues lie. Others can often see what we can’t. Find folks who will be honest with you, and get all the outside perspective you can.
You can always use questions 2 and 3 to guide your discussions with your supporters if you need a framework.
Question 5: Do you really want it to be successful?
I realize this question may sound strange! However, entrepreneurs are far from immune to blindly self-sabotaging their dreams. I want you to inquire: Do you really want this sale to go through? Really?
I’ve known people who have said they wanted to make their business work, yet no matter what they did, nothing was clicking. They’re in tears over their lack of success, and a year later finally confess that they don’t really want this business. They had something else in mind. Oh, nelly!
There’s no time like RIGHT NOW to get honest about what you REALLY WANT in your business. Because if you’re out there creating something you don’t really want, it might not really work!
Question 6: Okay, you want it to be successful. How badly do you want it?
If you’re clear that you really want this idea or this business to work, excellent. Along the same lines as the seven backup plans I covered in question 4, getting what you want requires gumption.
Spirited effort and creative resourcefulness should be your go-to tools whenever you’re doing something new. Sort of how my friend Anna Kunnecke pulled off an amazing, seemingly impossible feat this past summer. You must read about it after you finish reading this post. She cracks me up (and inspires the heck out of me)!
Knowing When to Say When
Now that you’re equipped with the essential questions to assess your failures (and wins) so you can make sure you’ve done everything to reach your goals, you’re probably left wondering…
How do I know when I’ve tweaked my idea enough times (without success) to put this idea to bed? How do I know when I’ve put in enough effort to know that my particular concept just isn’t going to work?
Even more challenging than “failing” in the entrepreneurial world is knowing when to close the book on something that just isn’t working.
And this is exactly what I’m going to cover next week: knowing when to call it quits. Because let’s be honest, sometimes ideas just aren’t going to work (and that’s okay).
It’s Your Turn, Dear Scientist
As always, I want to hear from you!
Is this idea of experimenting and tweaking something you struggle with in your business? Or does it come naturally to you?
Have you ever launched something and had it flop, then found ways to tweak it to success?
Do you have any other ideas or questions that could help business owners like you analyze successes and troubleshoot failures?
I can’t wait to hear your stories and experiences in the comments below!