4 Years of Fails
It's now four years since I handed in my resignation and set sail on the infamously rough and unpredictable waters of the Sea of Self Employment.
Perhaps you have dreams of embarking out in your own tinny. Or maybe you have been paddling for a while - life jacket secured... or not if you are a “let’s just do this and figure it out as we go” type like me.
Wherever you are right now, I believe that sometimes, we don’t actually want to hear the big wins, the great shiny moments or the successes… instead, we really want to hear if other people are “like us” - a little scared, messing up, and having fails more often than not...
So instead of sharing fours years of highlights, I want to share a little more accurate picture of what it’s really like out here in the wide ocean full of learning, trying, failing, feeling close to drowning, and then paddling on.
Here are just a few of the bad and ugly times I've had over the four years in business...
My first Melbourne workshops failed
Starting my business in a regional city of about 100,000 people, I didn’t realise how incredible it was to be able to meet and connect with so many business owners who lived in the one place and have this momentum to help me grow my business. Case in point: a few months after I launched my business, I added a date for my first workshop in my hometown - and thought “I’ll only write the content for this workshop if someone buys a ticket - let’s just see what happens. “
And boom! It booked out. And so did the next one, and then the next, and the next…
So, not long after moving to Melbourne (population almost 5 million) I believed what everyone was saying. “Melbourne will be SO good for your business”. “You’ll have so many clients!”.
So off I went and booked in two workshop dates thinking “these will be even easier to fill - there are SO many people here!”
Let’s just say this was a rude awakening and made me realise a lot!
I failed to realise that I needed to build my community first. Why would people invest in me, if I didn’t first serve them?
Other people ruled my day
I remember a client calling me one evening to “ask a quick question” and about 45 minutes into the conversation, telling me how much she hated her clients calling her just to pick her brain. I realised in that moment that this was exactly what was bloody happening to me!
I think we all know a “quick question” is never that - there’s time to really understand what is being asked, a response that comes from YEARS of learning our craft to be able to identify and diagnose the problem and then communicate our advice… and then the follow up questions come!
I failed by thinking I had to answer my phone anytime it rang, and by prioritising other people’s wants and needs over mine. I’ve literally had my phone on silent for a couple of years now…because nothing is that urgent. It’s bliss!
I believed what they said
I had a particularly bad “run in” with a client in the early days. And while yes I can see the positives now - it taught me a LOT about boundaries, personality types (look up “DISC” if you haven’t heard of it before!) and holding my ground… that’s not what this post is about.
At the time is was horrible. I felt very anxious about any emails coming from this client - I actually felt as though I needed someone next to me anytime I opened my inbox because I was so fearful about what I would find.
I wouldn’t hear for days or weeks after I completed work, and then it would pop up into my inbox…. cruel words, attacks, “everyone” thinks so and so about my work…
It made me lose confidence and feel as though I was no good at my work. I thought “I can’t do marketing” and let those beliefs of “who do I think I am” get loud.
I failed by carrying a doubt about my work and my ideas for a long time after this.
I felt bad about charging people
I feel as though this needs a post of its own, but for now I wanted to share that I once saw the money I charged my small biz clients as money they could be spending on their children, themselves, their holidays. I would say “oh I’ll just do it for free”. I also felt because my work was fun for me and I (mostly!) loved it - maybe it was being greedy charging.
A couple of times I even paid money back to clients because I felt I didn’t deserve it. [Like seriously Emily!].
I failed to value how much I could help my clients - and that by allowing my clients to pay me for my work, this actually allows them to value what they receive - and helps me to have a business that survives and thrives so I can serve them.
I hope this helps you realise that you aren't alone and that it's a wild sea we're all trying to stay afloat in.
P.S. Have you taken my scarily accurate Instagram Superpower Quiz? Click here to find out your biggest strengths, and what could be holding you back.