So Your First Business Did Not Work Out

Meeting people out at networking events and chatting with new clients, I have come across past entrepreneurs that have more or less labeled themselves as complete failures since there first venture did not work out.

Usually it takes a few kicks at the can to be successful, that or some people are just not suited for this type of profession and are okay with it too. Though entrepreneurship is not for everyone, anyone can give it a shot. You are not a failure if your first business did not work out.

To quote the late Aaliyah: “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again”.

Your past experience serves you

In your first company, you are ignorant to basically everything since it is all new, dealing with accountants, the CRA, your clients expectations etc.  Your life becomes a bit of a rollercoaster ride and in most cases is plagued with adrenaline. Working long hours and not sleeping due to the pure enthusiasm that is fueling your drive that makes you stay awake to think about the million things you still have to do. You will always have an ongoing list of tasks and challenges, which will never stop; only you just get more accustomed to the process of things getting thrown at you.

The more experiences you have gone though, the more acumen you have. That goes for making more informed decisions, testing before going all in and knowing when it is not going to work out and it is time to pivot. Some entrepreneurs can nail it in their first company; others may have to take a few tries.

Know when to hold them and when to fold them

Maybe the market was not ready for your product or service or you were underfinanced. Or perhaps, you were not passionate enough about the model and could not motivate yourself to remove the ongoing barriers to your success.

I am all for going the long haul and “never giving up” as most motivational speakers will tell you but if it is costing you too much financially with no reward in sight or your soul has checked out, it may be time to reroute.

Know the difference between persistence and staying in the wrong place for too long. Listen to your customers and the cues from the marketplace to really assess if you are onto something or not. Keep it real with yourself.

Opportunity to try something new

Fresh starts are new beginnings.  It is always interesting to see what type of a business someone sets up on their second try, often they are completely unrelated.  Going into another next venture, analyze your past experiences and know where your weaknesses are and hire other people to do that work. Getting smarter about paying people with more skills than you have is the sign of a mature entrepreneur. A lot of the fundamentals that were not there when you first started out now are. Hard lessons experienced once do not need to be repeated. Some people are more than happy to go back to their jobs after their first try and that is just fine too, just don’t label yourself as a failure.

With all of the craze encouraging failure today, discussions rarely cover the negative state you may find yourself in with low confidence after something didn’t work. You have to remember that failure is feedback and it is not to be avoided; you always will have to go all in. If you view failure as feedback, it will allow you to continue to experiment until you find the right formula to serve and give value to a large group of people while doing meaningful work that feels good to do.