Ok, I bet your eyes are shooting daggers at me. And I know your mind is wondering “What does she mean by failure could be your best friend? Is she even thinking or has she run out of blog topics?”
Please hear me out before you crucify me. Yes I was thinking straight and no, I have not run out of blog topics. But today I wanted to write a post about something everyone experiences.
Its called failure.
Whether in a big or tiny way, we have all experienced failure at some point in our lives. And I understand how depressing failure can be, especially when a lot is expected of you. And that is what this post is all about: to let you know that failure is not the end but the beginning of beautiful things.
Let me reveal a secret to you: Simply Quintessential was not my first attempt at blogging. In fact it is my fourth attempt. I started blogging as early as 2011. Within the space of 3 years I started three different blogs and watched them crumble.
But I didn’t give up.
Instead with each failure I learnt lessons that have ensured the success of Simply Quintessential. And I want to share them today, to encourage you and motivate you. Also if you are considering blogging, then you need to read this so that you don’t repeat the rookie mistakes I made.
1. Failure taught me to know my onions
This is number 1 mistake many entrepreneurs (and bloggers) make: They don’t know what they are getting into. When I first started blogging, it was the “IN” thing. The internet was awash with the success story of Linda Ikeji’s Blog. Everyone wanted a piece of the internet-riches pie, myself inclusive.
But we didn’t know the true story of Linda Ikeji’s success. We just thought that once you open a blog, write a few articles, then slap on ads in every available space, then the dough will start rolling in. I knew nothing about how to start a blog, I knew nothing about content writing, I knew nothing about how to set it up, I knew nothing about Google ads, I knew nothing about how to attract visitors. In a nutshell I knew nothing!
And I was in for a rude shock.
For starters, setting up the blog was easy to learn. I used Blogger. But there the fun ended. Because I did not have any audience in mind, I didn’t know exactly what to write. I wrote some random articles that I thought people would like and share with their friends. But guess what? Few people came to my site and I made nada. Nothing. With time, people even stopped coming, no matter what I wrote.
What I got wrong: I knew nothing about what I was delving into. I didn’t do my research, I didn’t understand what it would take to succeed as a blogger.
And that’s what many entrepreneurs get wrong. If you want to start a business you must know what is involved. Example if you want to start a fitness club, you must know what type of fitness solution you are providing, the amount of technical expertise and soft knowledge you must know before you can proudly call yourself a fitness instructor, what type of people your fitness solution will appeal to, how to get those people to know of your business, how to get them to trust and then patronize you.
Bottom line: You must know the business you want to start and how to monetize it. If you don’t know this yet, don’t start the business yet. Do your research and learning first and foremost.
2. Failure taught me to start a business I am passionate about.
Second mistake I made, was trying to start a blog in areas I was not passionate about. I love writing, I love building and developing businesses. But I am not a gossip junkie. As you just guessed, one of my first blogs was meant to be a forerunner in gossip gist, fashion and inspiration. It was a jumbled mess and it failed because I was not passionate about gossip.
When you want to start a business, don’t just focus on the money. Yes, we all start business to make money but that should not be the driving force. Why? because Money is not ever a good enough motivation. If money is the sole motivation, it means that whenever another shiny object that promises to give instant wealth comes along, you will abandon the business you started.
THIS IS BAD!
Because before you know it you will have a litter of abandoned projects and not one successful one. But passion is the quality that will ensure you hold onto your business, because you already love doing it and just can’t imagine life without doing it. So if you love fashion, start a fashion-related business or a fashion blog. If you love photography, go for a business in photography. Never venture into a business you don’t like solely for the profits you will make. Because when the going gets tough you will abandon that business and in the end make nothing from it.
3. Failure taught me that Business must always be defined
Try starting a business that is a fast-food joint, cement retail spot and toilet cleaning supplies manufacturer all rolled into one.
Big mistake right?
But many entrepreneur make this mistake in different ways. When you are trying to start a big business at one time, so that you can get thousands of customers instantly you are making this mistake. The best entrepreneurs started with one product, then expanded from there. Bill Gates started his company with developing an Operating System. Now Microsoft is into games, office tools, mobile, internet etc. But it all started with an Operating System.
You should do the same. Instead of starting an eatery that does African, intercontinental and baked yummies all at once, focus on one then expand from there. This will help reduce your startup costs and help you penetrate the market faster. Then as you grow stronger, you can branch out into other types of food service.
4. Failure taught me that “If you ain’t proud to show it off, don’t even bother”
This is so important, that I cannot overemphasize it enough. Why? because your first customers will be from the “cliq” of your family and friends. So if you are not proud enough to show your trade to them, what makes you think you will convince a random guy to patronize your business?
5. Failure Taught me to focus on Helping people and not focus on only making money.
When Facebook started out, there was nothing like ads on the entire site. For more than 1 year, the brains behind the social media giant worked on helping people with Facebook. How? Facebook was developed as a tool to stay in touch with family and friends regardless of location, time or distance.
They started out with a zeal to help people. Monetization of the site came latter, when they had amassed an active audience of millions of people.
When Facebook had grown a strong user base of millions of users, it introduced targeted advertising, this time to help small and big businesses. Before Facebook it was difficult to select the specific age group, sex, occupation of people you want to see your ads. But Facebook came and changed all that. The result?
The company reported a $7.82 Billion revenue for 2013.
Their focus paid off. They started out by helping ordinary people to stay connected, then they diversified by helping businesses advertise to specific groups of people with even a budget as small as $1. And then the money flowed in.
You should adapt the same model for your business or blog. Forget about making quick money and focus on building your audience, your network. To throw more light on it, consider reading this article
6. Failure taught me that marketing is the lifeblood of any business.
I must confess: I am a shy, delicate tulip.
On a good day, I love nothing better than to cozy-up to my loved one or to bury my nose in a book with a chocolate chip within reach.
I always balked at the thought of marketing. In my mind, marketing was for those sleazy salesmen. I was well-educated, hence I didn’t need to descend to that level of badgering people with my articles. A good market sells itself, so my readers will find me.
I was so WRONG that looking back right now, its almost painful to believe I once thought like that.
The truth is that there are a million wonderful blogs on cyberspace, there are thousands of people doing the same business you are doing. So readers and customers are spoiled for choice.
Developing wonderful products and articles is not enough.
You have to tell people about your business or blog. You have to show them why they should patronize your business. You have to hook them with delectable and delightful offers and freebies. In other words, you have to market your business but smartly. Today’s marketing is no more about pestering people to come and buy from you. In today’s marketing, you instead entice people by showing them how you can solve their problems. In today’s marketing you focus on offering value so that sales will naturally flow in without you coming off as a self-centered sleazy salesman.
7. Failure taught me that Your network will greatly determine your success
The one thing that can make or break your business is your network. By network I mean your customers, friends, advisers, employees, investors, partners.
For a business to grow you need an audience or customers or clients. Without them, your business will definitely wither away.
To learn more and to improve yourself and your business, you need to surround yourself with mentors, friends and associates who are achievers and have accomplished a lot in their fields.
To ensure your business is not run to the ground, you need worthy employees: People that are skilled, know their duties, perform these duties exceptionally and continuously contribute to the growth of your business. Make a mistake in picking the right network and your business will suffer greatly.
8. Failure taught me that Good things come to those who persevere and keep trying
The bitter truth of life is that nothing ever works out exactly how you plan. More so in business, where there are just too many variables that you can never predict what will happen in 2 months. For instance, you can’t tell when the value of dollar will fall or rise against your local currency. You can’t predict when the government will enact a policy that will adversely affect the way you currently do business and force you to develop another way.
But good things only come to those who persevere. Be persistent and smart with your business. Don’t abandon ship at the first sign of a turbulence. You never know what diamonds the sea will toss on your ship if you hold on.
9. Failure taught me that success comes to those that Keep improving
10 years ago, the only way to get in front of customers was to advertise through billboards, radio stations and magazines/newspapers. Fast-forward to today and those expensive traditional mediums of advertising is patronized only by established big corporations like Coca Cola, Total, MTN, who have deep budgets.
Today, small business owners use content marketing and social networks to advertise at extremely cheap rates.
The same applies to your business. What was trendy 10 years ago might be obsolete today. For instance in hairdo, we now have different types of human hair, and different styles for fixing these human hair from invisible parting to lace wig method. These methods were not even known 10 years ago. Imagine if a hairdresser refuses to improve/update her skills? Will she still get new customers or any customers at all? I seriously doubt that.
So to stay relevant and to ensure your business is profitable, update your knowledge
10. Failure taught me that Presentation is everything
The way you are dressed is the way you are addressed.
Simple truth. That’s why when people go for an interview, they wear their best formal outfits. So that they will be taken seriously.
The same applies for business.
My first two blogs were a mess. When I started Simply Quintessential I knew that one of the things I must work on was my presentation. What do I mean by presentation? Branding. From your business’s name to the colours you use to the tagline of your business. I wanted my website visitors to immediately know that I take my blog seriously, that is why I spent some good thing branding it.
So there you have it. I really hope these reasons help you avoid a lot of the pitfalls I faced. If you enjoyed this article, and know someone else it can help, go ahead and share it.
Have you experienced any failure when starting your business? Is there something you did but later learnt it was a mistake? Let’s know in the comments! So we can help others avoid our own mistakes.