Very recently, a business of mine failed, just 1 month after the grand opening. I wish I could tell you this was a first for me, but it wasn’t my first business failure. And I can almost promise you it will not be my last. Though there were business partners involved in this particular situation, I want to make it clear: I place no blame. Rather, I seek to take full responsibility for my own role and share what I learned, celebrating my lessons and growth.
1.Core values must always come first.
Normally, when I am struck with an experience or thought that will benefit my community, I’m quickly motivated to deliver it through a blog, video, or post. But I almost didn’t write this article. The truth is, it’s easy to share business growth tips and client wins. But life isn’t all rainbows and ponies. Writing about an intimate, recent failure is a raw process. While some may judge me for putting it all out there, sharing, no matter how painful, honors my core value of authenticity. Though painful, this business failure has given me an opportunity to lead by example, choosing to be transparent and honest.
2. Look for your lessons.
No matter how many businesses I own, I still need to learn the hard way sometimes. I accept this, for it makes me a more valuable coach and consultant. I’ve gone through owning, running, growing, and selling businesses. Each and every business I currently own, as well as those I have owned, sold, or closed in the past, has benefitted me personally and professionally. Each time I start a new business, work with a new client, or learn another lesson, I add to my knowledge and experience. That means everyone I interact with benefits.
If you find yourself blindsided and wallowing in a pit of despair, I can promise you there were lessons for you along the way, whether or not you saw them for what they were at the time. Sometimes the lesson is as simple as raising sufficient capital before opening your doors. Other messages are deeper, such as realizing you’re not living your purpose or following your dreams. Sometimes, you must learn your lessons multiple times before they stick.
3. There’s value in walking away.
One of my coaches told me once, “Some businesses fail because of you, but some businesses fail in spite of you.” Could I have done things differently to save the sinking ship? Maybe, but maybe not. Success and failure are not black and white; there are always numerous forces involved. Rather than blaming myself and wallowing in what ifs, sometimes the lesson is to recognize the signs and get out of the situation.
Business coaches must have experience and know how to grow a business, but seasoned coaches and consultants have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly. Great coaches know when to double down AND when to walk away.
So I did.
4. Failures can be opportunities.
When hiring a coach or consultant, one of the top things to consider is the experience she brings to the table. In navigating this business failure, I was initially terrified that my clients and prospects would look at me and wonder, “What kind of business coach can’t make a business successful? Why would I hire someone whose last venture failed?”
I still made the tough choice to step back, but as I shared my decision with my community, something interesting happened. Rather than judging me for my failure, numerous clients and friends told me they were proud of me and respected me more for recognizing the situation was not aligned with who I am and my own values.
5. The end is really the beginning.
Some will judge me for saying it, but I actually feel better now that it is over. Though I still believe in the business concept, I knew from the beginning that I did not want to run a brick and mortar business. I knew going in that with my intentional and well-defined 18-hour work week, having a space that would require someone to always be onsite was a huge risk. Plenty of people offered advice about the dangers ahead. But I chose to focus on my passion for the project instead. I justified everyone’s skepticism by assuming they did not understand the business model well enough.
I’m humble enough to admit I was wrong. They did understand. More than I did. And though it may not have been the wrong business model for the world and what busy parents and professionals need, it was the wrong business situation for me.
Is this the end? Far from it. In fact, it feels more like the beginning. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had. I’m thankful for the amazing people I’ve met. And I know that wherever I go next, I’ll be even stronger because of the lessons I learned.