Failure: what it is or isn’t, a couple of my experiences, and takeaways.
I will admit, a small part of creating this blog was a way for me to grow our business and add a new dimension to what we were creating. It was a way for me to celebrate successes (and a little bit of a marketing strategy).
But, that’s only a small part of it. The biggest reason why I started this was just because I missed blogging and writing. For years, I was all about writing and journalism. In high school and college, I wrote for the newspaper, covering my high school football team, and I loved it. Then I went to college with journalism as my major, determined to be a globe-trotting writer, drinking coffee in Prague, taking pictures in New York, and interviewing chefs in Rome. All kinds of fabulous stuff. I even had a blog before this (itwasbooks.blogspot.com) where I reviewed books. It wasn’t bad, honestly. I was quoted on author Philippa Gregory’s website once, just below and beside “USA Today” and “New York Daily News.”
Then, after actually studying it in college, I grew to hate it. Journalism, that is, not writing. I’ll always be a writer. Just not a journalist. No. Thank. You.
So now, I am in advertising and business!
Why is knowing that bit about me important?
It’s an example of something that didn’t work out (it took $10,000 and year to figure it out). I am not at all whatsoever in any way, shape, or form a life coach or wise-all woman. No. I am a “small business owner”-ish type person, however, so I know what it feels like when things don’t work out. As a business owner and blogger, I feel like I have an obligation to talk about business, entrepreneurship, creativity, and risks, at least a little bit.
Keep it honest.
Or as a like to say, a lesson.
That’s so important to know. No matter what happens, you are always learning.
This can best be felt for me through my first real failure with this thing- pot holders.
This was the first time I tried to make them. I had fabric, and I bought the special insulated batting. I cut my fabric and batting, and finally, when I got behind my machine… I screwed it all up. I tried eight to ten times probably, and they were ugly as hell. I was so devastated. I paid all this money, spent all this time, wasted all these materials, and for what? A shitty pot holder that no one is going to buy? How will I make this money back? What the hell am I going to do with this stupid batting? Or these ugly-ass pot holders? What could I have successfully made with this fabric that has now been wasted?
I know. They’re just some stupid pot holders, but the feelings I felt, the questions I asked myself, I think can happen anytime. If you’re a business owner, and you’re reading this, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. There’s no worse feeling than that feeling of loss. If not, you still probably know what I mean!
Despite how ugly they were, I put them up for sale anyway.
And they sold out in one day.
I was stunned. The craftsmanship was poor, and the designs weren’t anything special, so what the hell? What happened with these?
Well, I thought about it, and I came to this conclusion: in my case, it was my honesty. It was my customer service. It was my kindness, my openness with people, and even my laughter about the whole thing. The environment I created around it in my panic is what sold them.
So what’s the lesson here?
I learned a couple things through my failure. One, I need to practice more, and two, how to market something not-so-good (through just being a decent human).
So yeah, failure is inevitable and guaranteed to happen. For example, I still put grainy, pixel-y pictures on here. I could be breaking copyright laws by using pictures that aren’t my own (most are, and if they aren’t, I cite the source). I don’t mean to be, but honestly I could be because I don’t know how it works. Some of the things we make turn out ugly. I get my math wrong sometimes in my bookkeeping, and might be paying taxes wrong. I read over these posts, but I could still have typos and grammatical errors. But whatever, you know? If something happens, you learn from it and move on.
I hope you learned something through my zig-zag story. If you have a failure story and what you learned from that, please share!