When I started working for myself, I was so determined to make my business work that I was willing to try and do almost anything so I wouldn’t have to go back to my old job.
One of the things that paid off the most in my early years—and still does today—was that I was willing to fail.
I can see you shaking your head at me thinking, “I know, I know, Jenny. We have to be willing to fail 1000 times… blah blah blah.”
I hear you. I hate this advice, too. It might be popular, but I can’t stand it.
That’s why I never tell myself, “It’s okay to fail” or “You have to be willing to fail.”
I know, I just confused you. I said that being willing to fail has been one of the best things I’ve done yet I never think about it.
That’s because I look at “failure” differently than most people.
Instead of telling myself that it’s okay to (or I must) fail, I think, “I have to make this work.” (Because really, I do, if I want to keep my house and put food on the table.)
And that word choice makes all the difference. I’ll explain…
The only ways to not have to go back to my corporate job were to win the lottery or make my business work or move in with my in-laws.
In all of my attempts to make it work, I did some things that panned out, but more often than not, my efforts left me with zero or minimal results. Such as:
> I went to weekly networking events for a full year and got zero clients from it.
> I created a special coaching offer called “Superhero Treasure Hunt” (I know, ridiculous but true), thinking I was following good advice I randomly found online. It got a whopping zero inquires.
> After an exciting win when I first sold Get Your First 1000 Subscribers, I created a class called “How to Create an Irresistible Freebie” (because everyone in the first class said they wanted this class), but I sold barely any spots.
> I tried again by creating three how-to “Quickie Clinics” that I was convinced would be a huge hit, fixing the mistakes I thought I made in my last sales attempt. In total, they barely brought a few hundred dollars.
I did a lot of things to try to make my business work, MOST OF WHICH TOTALLY DID NOT WORK. In other words, they failed.
But here’s my point: I didn’t register these “failures” as failures.
I simply saw them as “things that didn’t work.”
This subtle difference in language between “failures” and “things that didn’t work” made all the difference in my ability to persist. (Because, as you know, this shit is hard, we will fail, and we must persist!)
When I tried something that didn’t work, I didn’t think, “I failed” or “I’m a failure.”
Instead, I thought, “That didn’t work.” Then, “What can I try next?”
You’re smart enough to know that business isn’t a rapid succession of quick, easy wins. The only way to make it work is to keep trying new things.
This is ALWAYS going to be true no matter how successful you get or how long you’ve been in business. I learned this the hard way over the past year.
I thought that if I hit the “repeat” button on things that had been successful in the past that my business would get to the point where it would sail along effortlessly. Boy, have I been wrong about that!
Here are some of my failures from the last 9 months, all things that had been successful in the past but totally flopped this most recent time around:
> I created several combinations of Facebook ads and opt-in pages, all which had dismal conversion rates. (By dismal, I mean single digits. In one case, zero conversions.)
> I offered a webinar that had lower registration than some of my free trainings from 5 years ago when my email list was significantly smaller.
> I created a retreat that noone signed up for, putting me $5292 in the hole for a lost hotel deposit plus an additional $875 in legal fees.
In short, I have been failing big time.
Was I bummed? Of course! Did I quit because it didn’t work out? Hell no!
As I said before, I didn’t think of these things as failures. They were just things I tried that didn’t work out.
I say this not because I’m trying to be all enlightened about it. In truth, I really didn’t think that way.
I know better than to say to myself, “I failed,” because it doesn’t help me keep going! It would make me feel, um, like a failure! And failures quit! And I can’t quit!
I must keep going.
We all must keep going!
This makes my job (and your job) relatively straightforward.
I (and you, too) must keep trying new things. When something works, do more of it until it stops working.
When something doesn’t work or stops working, learn from it and try something else.
Don’t create unnecessary drama. Don’t worry about being “a failure.” (In fact, stop using that word altogether if it bums you out. Permission granted!)
Be someone who keeps trying and keeps going no matter what happens.
Read that again: Be someone who keeps trying and keeps going no matter what happens.
Be someone who is committed to making it work no matter what.
Don’t stop trying. Don’t worry about failing.
Just figure out what you’re going to do next — then do it.
Can you do that?
Tell me in the comments below.