The online business world really is a great place. There are so many awesome, helpful blog posts, videos, webinars, opt-in, etc. to help you build a successful business.
But this strength is also part of the problem. We spend a lot of time talking about success and how to build a successful business, but we don’t spend a lot of time talking about failure.
Blog posts like “How to Build a Successful Business” and “The 5 Steps I Followed to Make $100,000 in 5 Months” are super popular. If you want major traffic to your site or your YouTube channel, you’ll do something along those lines.
And I understand why we don’t talk a lot about failure. Failure isn’t fun, and we often perceive talking about failure and the possibility of failure as a negative thing.
But the reality is that talking about failure isn’t negative, and I’m willing to be that more people have failed – at least in their first business – than we think. That’s part of the reason I’m inviting the online business world to talk more about failure.
Failure Is Part of Success
The fact of the matter is that failure and success are two sides of the same coin, to use a cliche. In fact, sometimes failure is an ingredient in success.
We all know the Thomas Edison story – how it took him a gazillion tries to make a lightbulb. Sure, he finally did it, and thanks to him I don’t have to bumble around my house in the dark or worry about burning it down with candles.
But before he succeeded, he failed. A lot. And each time he failed, he learned from it. He was able to figure out what didn’t work, which helped move him close to what DID work, which leads me to my next point…
Failure Teaches Us What Doesn’t Work
Since my first business failed, I’ve learned how not to run my own business. Ironically, the way I ran my business has helped many other people build successful businesses.
It just goes to underscore the point that what works for someone (or even the majority) may not work for you. Now, I know what doesn’t work for me and my business, and I’m learning more every day.
Had I succeeded in my other business, I’d honestly be unhappier than I am now, because I wasn’t running my business in a way that was best for me.
If we don’t talk about failure in the online business space, we miss all of the lessons that those who haven’t succeeded in business can teach us. (GASP! Yep. I just said you can learn from someone who was unsuccessful in business. Your teachers don’t all have to make a gazillion figures.)
To Remove the Stigma of Failure
Maybe this is all in my head, but I feel like there’s a stigma of failure in the online business world. Maybe that’s another reason why we don’t talk about it.
We feel like the online business space is a world of uber successful business owners, and to admit that we aren’t successful is to say that the system is broken…or maybe that we’re broken.
When I decided to close my business because nothing I did worked, I was afraid that I would be shunned by the online business community.
I was afraid that people wouldn’t want to be associated with me because I couldn’t make my business work. It was like I had this “lack of success” virus, and anyone who associated with me would catch it.
And honestly, I thought there was something wrong with me. I followed the same strategies as pretty much everyone else, yet I didn’t get the same results.
Then I was afraid that people would judge me and think I didn’t work hard enough. That’s usually where our minds go when we learn someone couldn’t make their business work.
We immediately say things like “You should’ve worked harder.” or “You didn’t market your business enough.” or “Did you do enough collaborations?” or “Maybe you weren’t where your clients hang out.”
Trust me, if success were only dependent on hard work, I’b making a comfortable $50,000 minimum. And I marketed my business everywhere my clients were, even using Facebook ads (though admittedly not well) – but I don’t think Facebook ads could’ve redeemed my business.
The hard truth is that sometimes our businesses fail not because of a lack of strategy or skills – I had both. Sometimes they fail because we weren’t running them the right way for us.
And I think that by talking about failure more in the online business space, we open the the way for other business owners to understand that it’s possible for someone to do everything right in theory and according to best practices and still not have a successful business.
It will also remove the stigma around failure and help other business owners who’ve had a failed business understand that they shouldn’t be ashamed.
To Give a More Balanced Picture of Business
The online business world is swathed in expectations of success, which is both a good and bad thing.
It’s great to know that it’s possible to succeed in online business, and it’s definitely inspiring to hear stories from the uber-successful about how they got to where they are now.
But we get so focused on success that we sometimes forget about the possibility of failure. We end up thinking that EVERYONE is successful in business, and that’s not the case.
Creating a space for people to open up about their failure will help others understand that sometimes it’s part of business and that not everyone is successful.
Failure Can Be Positive
Failure doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. Does it suck when your business goes under? Yes. Does it leave you feeling like a failure? Yes. (More on that in a later blog post)
But failure also gives you the opportunity to evaluate what went wrong and determine what you need to fix next time (if there is a next time). And no shame if you decide online business isn’t for you.
That’s really what this is all about – alleviating the stigma and shame of having a business that failed. Because it’s time.