What I'm Learning About Business Failures & My Capacity to Take Risks

 business failures

I started my first business in 2010. It was an online clothing store named Twiggie Meister, and I cannot for the life of me tell you where I got the name. I threw myself into the business. I made accounts at all the LA-based fashion houses, brought in inventory, took my own photography, built my own site (this was before the ease of Squarespace) and then tried to figure out how to make sales.  Fast forward one year, and I'd taken a promotion at my day job, moved away from New York and took nothing from the business with me besides the beautiful copper mannequin. Oof.

My second crack at entrepreneurship came at the genesis of fit culture. I was well into my own body transformation, had gotten certified, learned a ton about physiology, anatomy, strategies, and people were waiting in line to "pick my brain." I was all about helping folks. I set up free hour-long Skype calls for coaching, explained workout strategies, macros, and helped them create diet plans. The thing I quickly learned about fitness coaching - I assume this applies to any coaching- is that you can't make people follow your advice. In most cases, I could deal with this. I'm more of a mind my own business kind of gal so I expect and hope that people are going full free will. But, in my case, I was a bit miffed because there were other things I could've been doing with my time, like lurking Instagram accounts or singing to my dog. I decided I needed to weed out prospects based on their level of seriousness by attaching a dollar figure to my sessions and -boom- my coaching business was born.

The coaching itself was pretty simple; however, I wasn't prepared how the combination of fitness coaching and social media bore this culture of share all bare all. I was caught off guard by the trajectory of how social media marketing went from posting videos of workouts to posting kissie photos of your significant other etc. It felt as if you couldn't grow a substantial base without posting about your personal life. In hindsight, I understand that I held the limiting belief that to grow my business I needed to follow a similar path as others.

My results are a prime example of why it's important to "go your own way." I wasn't hip to social media marketing so, while I admired the "interesting" lives of my peers, I didn't realize that most the of the shots were staged. In short, it was a rough time. I posted real life pictures of my laying on the couch with my cat. I posted unedited flex pics. I couldn't get my then boyfriend to do cute couple-y workouts with me. I was extremely uncomfortable with exposing my life, and therefore, my Instagram report card was covered in "F's."

Eventually, I grew resentful of my lack of growth vs. others, I allowed comparison to steal my joy, and I threw in the towel. What I didn't know then, but know now, is that instead of choosing my customers I was hoping customers would choose me. In business terms, I needed to define my customer base better.

That's the thing about failure, once you get some distance from the situation, you see it as an excellent tool for learning and expanding.

Seven years later I still had the appetite and passion for entrepreneurship, but my aptitude for risk-taking had diminished. I had an excellent idea that had legs, but I was so petrified of failing again that I essentially refused to stick my neck out. In playing it safe, my leaps of faith were more like hops of hope. I didn't trust myself, and the contrast between that mistrust and my deep desire tortured me.

My epiphany came during a night of the soul when I spoke candidly to myself and asked me what my deal was. "What do you want?" "What do you need?" and "Why don't you have it?"

The clarity that arrived was that my dreams weren't items to check off a list. I desire achievement for the experience, the growth, the expansion, the interest, and the excitement. I like to create. Mastering creation is my goal, that's what I want. Entrepreneurship is just my excuse to do so. 

My new opportunity was nothing like those before. I knew A LOT more and the market was wide open for me to take the lead. I had the startup capital. I had the time. I needed to just go for it. I turned my hops of hope back into leaps of faith, and not through mirror pep talks or making wild uncalculated decisions and hoping for the best. I gave myself the grace and time to lick my wounds and naturally rebuild my self-esteem.

My first step was understanding my true motivation because I began looking at every working part of my business as a mini-creation. It was a gentle mind trick that helped me find more joy in the day to day tasks. I chilled out and allowed my joy-filled effort to provide results.  I pushed myself a little more, and then just a bit further and it never felt like I was out on a limb. For the first time in my life, the path to entrepreneurship felt easy and satisfying. Looking back I really was "going for it." I'd cracked the code, at least, for myself.

My capacity to take risk is directly correlated to how good I feel.