Today I saw an image of an Autumn leaf. At the same time, I’m looking out my window and noticing the tips of the trees turning yellow. I’m a summer gal, so the first signs of Fall are always a bit sad for me. But this year it’s a little different. While it is Autumn outside, in my business life, it’s Spring.
And let me tell you, this is the first Spring I’ve had!
My first attempt at having my own business started in 1999, selling jewelry through a direct sales company. I tried various direct sales ventures over a decade and then in 2009, I stepped out as an entrepreneur by launching a little gift business. That ended up turning into a brick-and-mortar women’s boutique. In 2016, I closed the boutique.
All of those business attempts, from 1999-2016, were epic failures.
Between the money I invested and the money my family invested, plus the tens of thousands of hours I worked without pay (or minuscule crumbs), I figured I’ve lost nearly $100,000 in cash over 17 years plus another half-million in lost wages. And that’s being modest.
FAILURE ISN’T IDEAL
- Every year I question whether I should stay in business.
- Every year I doubted my ability to be an entrepreneur.
Though I reached out to others and tried to join various groups, I didn’t fit in. They had big budgets (or at least HAD a budget) and were actually making money.
I was losing money so fast I wondered if I was being foolish by NOT quitting.
- One “expert” suggested I wasn’t an entrepreneur at all, but just someone trying to start a business, but in actuality, a hobbyist.
- Another man told me I was nothing more than a “groupie” when I kept attending business seminars but wasn’t seeing the growth that others were experiencing.
I didn’t set out to fail or to lose money. These businesses weren’t something I was wanting to “try”. I genuinely loved doing what I was doing. I have a “drive” inside of me that I can’t define and never goes away. With each business failure, I immediately had to try something else. Being short of business ideas was never an issue, rather it was more of which one should I do. With each attempt, I was sure this was the “one” that I’d do well in and make back all that money I lost.
Interestingly, I always started a new business in the Autumn, but I usually closed my businesses in the Fall as well. Autumn was always a transition time for me. With each following season, it would feel like I was watching another leaf from my tree of dreams die and fall to the ground.
I’d wonder if I didn’t have what it took to be an entrepreneur, much less a successful one.
SEED OF SUCCESS
At the beginning of this year, I was full of excitement and anticipation as I thought my newest business was starting to actually grow and take shape. Yet within a few months, I lost 90% of my income. With my latest blow, I looked down at all my failures in business. I literally almost quit. In my head I thought, “I’m no entrepreneur. Get out now before you waste another 20 years.”
I seriously considered quitting for several days but then I decided not to. All I could see was a pile of failure, but what I was really standing on was the seed of success.
Not long after I decided to push through, I decided to view all my hard work and monetary investment as PREPARATION for what was to come. Within a couple of days, it was like I bent down and looked through a ground covered with dead leaves, and through those leaves was the first signs of REAL growth. With my new perspective, I was finally able to look around at my years of effort and I could start to see the tiniest signs of life!
YOUR FAILURES ARE FERTILIZER
For decades I’ve invested tens of thousands of hours in learning skills, changing my mindset and developing my passions. Even when I saw nothing, I took that inner “drive”, and pushed forward. I’d get excited if I thought something was taking off, but down deep…I knew. I knew it wasn’t working, but I also knew I was learning.
Now, I see something tangible. I see the growth and the life. And instead of seeing a pile of failure at my feet, I see food for my future. That which died off before is now providing life. Nothing is wasted.
So this year, as I see an Autumn leaf, it means something so different. It used to be a sadness at the knowledge I was still failing in business. But now I see the food that is nourishing the seeds of vision, hope, and faith I planted long ago. The seed of success.
Want someone to mentor you as you process and dig through the past? Perhaps you need someone to help you sift through ideas or develop strategy! I offer mentoring services to micro- entrepreneurs and those starting out in their entrepreneurial journey.