It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>
So, on that note, this week I asked our panel of experts …
“Our readers oftentimes think we are somehow “lucky” in business or smarter than they are.
So, this week, I wanted to do something completely different and see if you all would be willing to share a fail, disaster, or total miss from your business.
And, is there a lesson or some good that came from it?”
Here are their stories they so graciously shared.
Kelly McCausey of Solo Smarts Podcast says:
I'd like to tell you all about a big fat fail, something really embarrassing – but my mind is mercifully blank on that at the moment. I have to admit though, that my entire business life started with a failure.
It was 2002. I started a desktop publishing business, built a website, created brochures and business cards and told every single person I could all about my big plans.
The bad news? I never got a single desktop publishing client. It was a total failure.
The good news? Several friends loved my website and asked if I could make them one.
This opened up doors to a lot of word of mouth business and pushed me into spending more time online. That led me down the path that brings to today. I'm grateful that I never got a client for desktop work today.
I'd like to say I never launched another failed project. Far from it.
Learning from failures is actually a category on my blog, that's how often I screw things up.
By the way, I studied the book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John Maxwell years ago. It changed my mindset about things that don't work out. Instead of getting bummed about a failure, I'm looking for the lesson and taking action on it. If you're in a rut about a failure in your business, I encourage you to pick up the book.
Shannon Cherry of Learn How I Get *Paid* to Attend Events says:
Oh my. My problem isn't that confession is good for the soul. The question is how many stoopid Shannon tricks can I confess?
Seriously, I have made so many errors, failed many times, and often have kicked myself regarding missed opportunities that really could have paid off. And no matter what anyone says, we all do.
But I do have one consistent fail. One that literally drives me crazy. People for some reason don't think of me as a coach, so I rarely have coaching clients. I've set up offers, seeded people through programs, told people I'm available, but often the feedback I get is that “if I need PR help, I'll contact you.” I've been business for more than 10 years, so I know a thing or two about marketing and business growth. Yet, I still get the ‘I didn't know you did that, I thought you just help people with press releases.”
Sigh! It's frustrating, but I'm working towards a new plan with a new way of coaching that may turn the tides on this #fail.
But the key is to never give up. Keep testing and tweaking and find what works for you!
Lain Ehmann of Crafting Your Business, Step-by-Step says:
There have been times when I've KNOWN without a doubt that something was going to be a hit. I could feel it in my gut, plus I got that little prickly feeling on the back of my neck that said, “This is a good one!”
Usually, I'm right. But sometimes I get that feeling and it's still a big flop. Whoops!
For instance, when I was publishing my first book in the scrapbooking industry, I had the brilliant idea to contact online scrapbooking retailers and offer them a discount on my book (this was in 2007 when such partnerships were rare). Most online retailers were very small, mom-and-pop deals, and I thought they'd jump at the chance to partner with a big publisher!
I spent hours researching online retailers, and I sent out dozens of emails. Want to guess how many took me up on my offer?
I ended up selling less than a dozen books as the result of the massive marketing effort I'd put forth. Big, big bomb.
What exactly was the problem? I'm still not sure. Maybe the retailers were suspicious — the deal was TOO good (free promo materials to include in orders, a substantial discount on the book, etc.).
Maybe they were so busy shipping orders from their back bedrooms that they didn't have the chance to even consider my invitation.
Or maybe they thought their customers wouldn't have been interested.
In any case, I am still convinced it was a brilliant idea. But if I were to do it again, I think I'd call instead of email. That personal touch goes a long way to convincing people of your sincerity, and breaking through the noise of email that inundates people these days.
Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of Webinars Made Simple says:
A failure? A mistake? Where shall I begin… No one who has achieved any level of success has not learned through their mistakes. In fact I earned the reputation of being The Technology Tamer – not because I'm so good with technology, but because I've made so many mistakes in using technology that I already have the answer to your problem. My business online was built on that for the first ten years!
One time I was doing a webinar and forgot to hit the record button. Okay, so that particular webinar didn't get recorded – but that step certainly got added to the checklist in my Webinars Made Simple product.
Once I was doing a presentation in front of 1200 meeting planners – each of whom had the power to hire me as a speaker for their next event. Certainly a group you'd want to impress. But as I was clicking through my slides I noticed a warning box kept popping up. Eventually it came up so many times I stopped to read it – to find out I had forgotten to plug in my laptop – and it was about to go dead. I excused myself, dove under the table, found the plug in the dark, then got back up with mussed hair and kept on going.
It's not about the mistake. We all make them – and often frequently. It's knowing that “this too shall pass” and figuring out how you can profit from it. If nothing else you can become an expert at solving other people's problems – because you've already made them!
Terry Dean of My Marketing Coach says:
Well, this is a toughie, because I have so many failures and mistakes. Where should I start?
Here's a good one. I had a flash of brilliance. It was an incredible idea that was going to make a fortune.
Create a step-by-step marketing course designed specifically for local business owners. Perfect. They all need this. I disappear into my man cave and work on this for 6 months. It was a masterpiece. Over 300 pages packed with A-B-C instructions, checklists, worksheets, and more. The crowd cheers, “He is finally done and ready to launch this game changer.”
Launch. Silence. A few sales trickle in, but nothing like the stampede that was expected.
Six months down the drain. What was my mistake? No one identifies themselves as a local business owners.
Local business owner is too general. They're dentists, chiropractors, CPAs, physical therapists, gym owners, martial arts dojos, restaurateurs etc.
I was able to make the project profitable by editing the product and sales copy to dentists. Then going after that specific audience.
But this miserable failure has an even better silver lining to it. Around half of my one-on-one coaching clients sell B2B in these exact types of niche markets. A portion of their success has been built upon my failure.
The big takeaways here are to do your research before running with a big product idea. What are people currently buying? What do they want to buy? What solutions are they searching for?
Everyone wants a custom solution just for them…even if the answer is 95% the same as other related markets. Becoming more specialized is a way to set yourself apart.
And even painful failures can be a stepping stone to greater success.
Note from Nik: If you're an intermediate to advanced marketer and you sell your own products – be sure to check out Terry's My Marketing Mentor Program
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
Well you already know my motto. “You don't have to be perfect to be profitable'.
God knows that I'm not. I manage to screw things up often enough to prove that. 😉
My biggest failure and what I learned.
I would say my biggest failure over the years is related to confidence. I've failed to let go of tons of stuff, even though every year at this time, I commit to doing it.
Every year, I make a list of websites that I need to sell or give away.
Every year, I think how much easier my life would be if I would just do it.
But I never do. This mistake has literally cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars – simply because I'm not 100% focusing enough on my ‘money' projects.
The funny thing is that, if I looked at my business and my life as if I were my own coaching client, I'd kick my butt!
I would never let one of my coaching clients hang on to this much baggage. It's not practical and it's certainly not the most profitable plan.
It's not even that I really spend TIME on most of the “extra” stuff. It's just a mental drain and sucks my soul. (Not to be toooo dramatic or anything. lol!)
I keep justifying that the extra websites and projects are just “sitting there making money” – which is true for a lot of them. But, how much risk and wasted mental energy do I really need in my life?
If I were to let them go and focus on my Focal Point – the profit that I would get from that would so squash the small amounts that some of those niche sites bring in every month.
2013 is going to be my year of SIMPLIFYING everything.
2. No more telemarketers (we're turning off the ringer on the home phone).
3. I'm dumping all unnecessary things – even if it only involves a few minutes per month.
4. Heck, I'm even having laser hair removal on my legs so I don't have to waste time shaving anymore. lol. (Too much information? Probably.)
I don't know if it's the holidays coming up, or if I'm just reviewing the last year of my life and thinking about how much of it was spent running around filling out papers and jumping through hoops for the adoption that has put things into perspective. Or maybe it's my 40th birthday coming up on me.
It's time to file this away for good and to put my chronic overwhelm from mental clutter to rest.
Lesson learned. All things come with a price. Even good things. I don't need this much “stuff” in my life or in my head.
Talk to me.
1. Do you have a failure that you would like to share? And a lesson learned?
2. Did one of my friends' posts resonate with you?
3. Do you suffer from mental chaos? What are you doing about it?
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
PS. If you like this post – share it and check out my friends’ sites. That’ll make me happy! 🙂 Appreciate you!