When your business experiment fails…

I’m a big proponent of “failing forward”. The idea is to test new ideas quickly, fail fast and then move on. Eventually, the test will not fail and you will have struck gold. But it’s naive to think you will find it on the first try.

I used to be slow at failing. For a full year, I knew in my heart that I needed to close the business I had spent the last two years building.

I had done proper market research. Ran the numbers, did deep targeted interviews with ideal customers, tested prototypes, pre-sold from the first collection.

When the next logical step was to grow and scale and find distributors… I knew I was about to build a business that I would hate.

I love having ideas. I love figuring stuff out. I love learning and experimenting. But having a design business that includes fulfilling orders, fixing website failures, pitching stores to carry my brand, and all the nitty-gritty day-to-day logistics? Nah, I’m not structured like that!

So I should have pulled the plug. I didn’t pull the plug because it was embarrassing to face failure.

Because I could postpone the decision by saying I was on maternity leave (I was. Perfect timing!).Because people around me value “not quitting.”

It was embarrassing.

And then, when I proclaimed my decision, it was a ton of bricks lifted off my shoulder! What a relief!

I could stop trying to pretend a was something I’m not and instead find something more enjoyable to do.

Closing an opportunity can be just as much a relief as finding a new one. Maybe even more so.

Closing a door firmly behind you can be SO satisfying… but also devastating. Fortunately, it is just one way of moving forward. Another way is to continually course-correct, bit by bit angling yourself in the right direction, without officially quitting anything. The journey rather unfolds as you take steps forward.

Are you more of a “test and quit what doesn’t work” type person or a “course-correcting path-finder” type person?

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