A colleague in a Facebook group wrote this, “Okay, this entrepreneur thing is such a manic experience. Does anyone have a blog post they’ve done or really liked from another blogger about finding strength when you feel beat down from things not going according to plan or a failed project?” This spoke to me, because this has been my life for several years now. I want to share with you my experiences on finding strength after failure.
Twenty years ago I started a company with a partner. This company quickly became successful because we had a good product at the right time. Not wildly successful, mind you. We weren’t rich. But we could pay our bills, have a little leftover, and do some fun things. This was success for us and we were happy.
[By the way, if anyone reading this is familiar with me and my work pre-blog—and I know you’re out there because you’ve been kind enough to keep following me—please know that I share this very personal story because I want to inspire others. I’m putting myself out there by sharing this. Please be gentle with me.]
The company grew, brought in employees, added more products, gained more opportunities, and created a vibrant community around it. This success lasted for about 10 years. It was good. I would wake up each morning knowing I could pay my bills, provide for my family, and do some fun things. I had a sense of well being. I was well respected by everyone. I was recognized by my people out “in the world.” I was on top of my game.
But in the years after the Great Recession, which we weathered okay, we discovered a changed world and economy. The recession did more damage to our business then we initially thought, and sales began to fall. Add to that a changing world and less need for our product, and we had a recipe for disaster.
This graphic shows my Google Adsense earnings from 2005-2017, and it’s a pretty good reflection of the rise and fall of it all:
Most people would have thrown in the towel, but I am particularly stubborn. It is both a good and bad trait. I held on for MANY years, doing everything I could think of (and I mean EVERYTHING) to resurrect my business. I put myself way out there, pushed myself out of my comfort zone over and over, taught myself how to program PHP for goodness sake. Everything.
But … it didn’t work. As anyone who’s been reading my story knows, a little over a year ago I hit rock bottom and was forced to accept defeat. From October to December of last year, I was in a serious, deep, dark place. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t pay my bills. It wasn’t just that I was working all the time.
It was that I had failed.
I had given something everything I had, for years and years. And it wasn’t enough.
So essentially I had risked my time, money, and passion and came up short. Way short.
I couldn’t pay my bills because it wasn’t making money. I couldn’t spend enough quality time with my son because I was working so much to do all the things I’d started during my resuscitation attempts. I couldn’t hope and dream that things might get better.
It was over.
The thing that was the hardest for me, I think, was that I had this belief that if I try hard enough, I can do it. I really believed that. And I was wrong. I couldn’t make it work.
But… remember that stubborness I mentioned? It’s good and bad, right? Well, that stubborness doesn’t let me give up… so I am forced to redirect it elsewhere.
I could have put my passion into a hobby or a game. I admit I have done that before as an escape.
I could have put my tenacity into something less worthy than my skills and experience out of sheer desperation.
I could have just kept going doing the same old thing until they had to pry my mouse out of my hands because of a nervous breakdown.
Instead I redirected it into a new venture: my blog.
Then when the blog didn’t produce instant wealth (no, I didn’t expect it would, but still would have been nice!), I redirected my stubbornness into learning HOW to make my blog successful.
I learned everything I could (and am still learning). I followed the leadership of those who came before me, something I couldn’t do with my business because I’d been forging my own path. I did all the things they recommended, and I strived to do it the very best I could. I worked and strived hard, but this time I was doing it in fertile ground rather than in something old and busted.
Sometime around January, the fog began to lift. I was starting to earn a little money, I had had my first viral Pinterest pin, and I started a mailing list that people were joining. I began to see some light.
In February I enrolled in Elite Blog Academy, put my head down, and worked diligently.
My mailing list swelled, my Pinterest and Google referrals grew, and I narrowed my niche to what my readers wanted.
It’s a year later. I’m astounded that I’ve come so far in a year. My little blog is now providing a full-time income for my family. I attribute it to listening carefully to others who have found success and actually putting their advice into action, but I also attribute it to my sheer stubbornness.
Because even though I had failed, and failed BIG time, I had not failed myself.
I got up when I fell down.
I learned from my mistakes.
I just. kept. going.
Failure is tough. But it’s one of the very best teachers there is. Had I not failed at my business, I would not be where I am today, which is most DEFINITELY a better place than I was ever at before. I didn’t realize it was possible. I didn’t even dream this big. I just wanted to pay my mortgage and put food on the table.
Failure is what got me here today.
If I fail again, that failure will help me to the next level in my personal growth.
And it will do the same for you. Learn from your failure. Then use it as a step to get up to the next opportunity.
Stay strong. You CAN do this.
P.S. You may be interested to learn that even though I’ve “failed” at returning my company to its original profitable state, I have not completely failed it. It does continue on helping people, just to a lesser extent than before. It no longer supports me financially, true, but it does continue to provide a valuable service to the community, and for that reason it keeps on keeping on. And that is also okay.
P.P.S. If you are interested in learning more about my blogging method and techniques, and my personal story of how I created a full-income blog within one year, please subscribe to my little blogger mailing list below. The free subscription includes a 16-day blogging mini-course and a weekly newsletter with my tips and tricks.