This week I am going to share with you my biggest business failures yet to date. I am saying yet to date, because I do believe that you should take risks. And taking risks means… sometimes…. failure.
We should not be afraid of failures, they form us and teach us valuable lessons for the future. Without them we would not be where we are today, and we would not be as wise as we are today, Right? Plus… if you are interested in developing yourself, in Creative Business Thinking then you need to practice the trial and error mindset. In the Idea Lab, I talk about the experimental innovator and that is a person who tries and keeps what works – and throws away what doesn’t work.
This episode is brought to you by my course Idea Lab and for a limited time you can now buy the Idea Lab for 299 SEK (about 29 Euros). Get it here:
The purpose of this episode is to teach you that failures are OK, that you will survive and that those mistakes you once made could have been both bigger and much more serious, had you made them at some other point of time. And who knows, if you have not made a mistake in the past maybe you wouldn’t have an opportunity that you have today? Don’t get me wrong, I think that you should try NOT to make mistakes on purpose, but if they happen – make the best of them!
So, without further ado – let me tell you about my biggest business mistakes and what I have learned from them.
Facebook clean up.
Running 4 companies means that you don’t have time – for almost anything. You definitely don’t have time for hour long conversations and meaningless e-mail threads. There is a need for efficiency and no bs. Thinks like ”honey, I know you don’t have time for this but….” I’m allergic to them! Seriously! Please don’t! One of the things I dislike the most is when someone thinks that their time is more important than other people’s time (including my time!). Scenarios happen and I am expected to just drop everything that I am doing and help out. For me, those scenarios tend to happen in chunks. And a few years ago I decided to do something about it!
The problem is, I didn’t go to the source, I did to the tool. Let me explain. I had gotten lots and lots of those e-mails on Facebook, those ”hi honey, I know that you are busy but…” requests, and I blamed Facebook for it. But in stead of actually telling those involved that I didn’t have time, nor energy, I decided… to clean my Facebook and remove everyone that could potentially take up my time, now and in the future! And i was relentless, I really went for it! I went from having nearly 5000 connections on Facebook to about 500! Imagine! I only kept real friends and people I wanted to have close to me. It took me an afternoon to unfriend nearly 4500 people. Good strategy, you may say. Well… there is a twist!
At this time, Janne and I were realeasing our first book, ”The worlds funniest training book”. We had started advertising the book and all that, when we suddenly got an e-mail from the publisher saying that someone had contacted them and told them that they were initially thinking about buying the book but now, since I had removed them from Facebook, they were not going to anymore. ”What a weirdo”, I thought! But…. For everyone that called the publisher (more than one, believe it or not) there were probably a few who took offense in being unfriended, even if they decided not to do anything about it. Do I need to tell you that the book didn’t sell as well as I hoped it would do? Oh yeah, one more thing! The person that was stealing the most energy from me actually didn’t get unfriended.
So – what did I learn from it? Go to the source! Leave everyone else onboard your ship and bring them along! I don’t mean that you should keep friends and acquaintances on social media just so they can buy your product, but I can assure you that they won’t if you remove them!
The gut feeling.
I am a gut feeling person to the tee! Although I always make decisions with my head, I never go against my gut feeling. Except once. It cost me a lot of money!
Quite a few years ago now, I started training a lady and from the first PT session I felt that something was wrong. Something just didn’t feel good about this person. But, a part of me understood that she really really needed a trainer so I decided to put my feelings aside and continue. Shouldn’t have. Eventually this woman gave me a business proposition and once again I should have listened to – or seen – the red flags that were popping! I actually said no to this at first, but after giving it a logical thought I said yes – and we launched a business together.
Everything should be fine in theory, right? Well, things happened and this lady was suddenly not part of her own investment. And there I was: with staff payroll, a venue, inventory and all that was costing me money I didn’t have from the start. The investor I was hoping for was not the investor I got. That is OK…. If I hadn’t gone against my gut feeling.
Listen! It doesn’t matter what an offer looks like. If it doesn’t FEEL right, don’t take it. If you have even the slightest little warning in your gut – run! Best case scenario: nothing happens. Worst case scenario it will cost you a lot of time and a lot of money. It took me 3 years to get back on track and that was absolutely NOT worth it!
Speaking in someone else’s voice.
This one is a recent mistake, very recent actually. It’s from the launch of Creative Business Thinking Masterclass. I have spoken about it before in ”5 things I learned from launching an online course” – check it out at https://creativity.house/5-things/ but it needs to be addressed again because it’s a very very common mistake!
For the launch of my online course I picked someone else’s tone of voice. I had hired an assistant who has done the process of launching the course before, so I relied on her skills and knowledge. So far so good. But what I also did, was giving away my communication and replacing it with someone’s who has successfully launched a course just recently. You see, my logic was: since someone else has done it this way, so need I. I would speak in the same way to the masses and hope that what had worked for others would also work form e. The result: I didn’t even recognize my own communication for a while. In hindsight, I wouldn’t even think it was me writing e-mails. Of course it didn’t work! Why would it? I mean, my true followers must have wondered what I was doing, suddenly changing both languages and the tone of voice! They are used to me experimenting and taking on different projects, but it’s still… me. This time it wasn’t. Time to redo it all again soon. As Magdalena.
Selling what you want to sell rather that what customers want to buy.
This one is tricky and it happens all the time! We get and idea – the best idea in the world, thank you very much – we put our blinders on and off we go! And then we sell nothing! Why? Well, there are many reasons. For me, I had forgotten to ask if the market actually wanted to buy what I was selling…
I love computers and I love tech! So about 10 years ago I created the first ever PT online service that I had heard of – beautifully filmed with a videographer and with an interface that would be considered good enough still today. I got it all right! I made a program that required full dedication, training every single day, strict food programs and elite athlete discipline… and here is the problem. NOONE needs an online PT if they are already there! If they are so dedicated, then they are self managed, maybe even aspiring trainers for what we know, and they spend their every waken hour at the gym. Af if they don’t have a gym close by, they build one. The person who NEEDS PT online is most likely a beginner and not at all prepared for that amount of effort! Needless to say I sold zero. Or, actually… one, but she dropped out without asking for the money back.
Whatever you do – ask your clients if they are interested in what you are selling. Validate validate validate. Don’t spend your time creating something that your market doesn’t need or want. Even if that part is the toughest one! For the next launch of Creative Business Thinking Masterclass I will validate the heck out of this course! If you are a superfan, I might just call you in the next weeks!
Letting someone take advantage of a starstruck.
During your professional life you will get in contact with brands and companies that you would really want to be a part of. Sometimes you will get the chance and sometimes not. For me, just at the time when I became a PT, I was approached by a company that – at that time – was, to me, God’s gift to training. Believe me, I would work for free as an ambassador for this firm if they let me! You know what… that’s exactly what happened!
I remember the fantastic feeling when they approached me at an event and said that they have had their eyes on me for a while and wanted to work with me. Don’t get me wrong, they have opened tons of doors for me throughout our collaboration, but not once did they pay me! You see… I was so starstruck, so damn proud of being a part of this, that I forgot to even ask for a pay! Plus… I was charging well for my sessions and classes, so I didn’t need that paycheck to survive. A smart girl, but so dumb, right? On the other hand – they never told me to send an invoice. This went on for 1,5 years.
Moral of this story: stay awake! Don’t be so starstruck so that you forget to get paid! Plus… for what it’s worth, maybe they feel just the same way about you. No matter what – don’t go into a collab that is not balanced!
So! There you have it! My biggest business mistakes yet to date. I hope that I could teach you something about what not to do – maybe you were about to make a decision and something I just said changed your mind? But please remember, without risk no reward. Sometimes you need to jump and if you fall, well… then you try again and again!
Thank you for listening to Creativity House today! See you next time!