I have never really failed in life…until now.
No, really, I haven’t.
It sounds a really arrogant thing to say, but when I think of my life and how sheltered I have been it has really prevented me from failing.
Even if you reflect on your own life, how many times have you truly failed. Within education, we exist in a bubble. If we concede to societal norms, we can live a pretty failure-free life. Go to school. Do above average in class. Get an above average job. Earn a decent living. It leaves little opportunity for failure. You may not be happy necessarily, but if you play the game of life, you can elude failure fairly easily.
As long as I got good grades, which I almost always did, I naturally progressed to the next level of education without too many obstacles. Maybe I was just one of the lucky ones?
Since I have started my own business however, it is incredible how much failure I have encountered.
I have almost grown more accustom to failure than I have to success.
‘Start a business’ they said, ‘it will be fun’ they said…
As fun as it can be, running your own business, especially solo, is tough. I used to hear people say that and think “how hard can it be?”
I think the hardest part of it all is remaining optimistic. You have to believe in yourself and your product/service SO much, because quite frankly, nobody will if you don’t. But when you are subject to setback after setback, it can be quite the pre-cursor to self-doubt.
I am only two months in, but already the reality of the situation I am presented with is unprecedented. I wake up and I stare failure in the face daily. It stalks you as an entrepreneur, like a grim reaper. Like the 90% of start ups who fail in their first year, it is not a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’ the reaper finally comes calling.
For most of these entrepreneurs, I believe what deters them most— other than cash flow issues— is the constant reminder of failure that they endure every day. There is no safety net. There is no try again. In education, if you fail a class it’s okay, retake the course. As I am beginning to find out, however, is that the business world is a lot more unforgiving.
As cliché as it sounds, it is sink or swim. Nobody is there to catch you.
So perhaps you’re wondering what kind of failures I have endured in my journey? Let’s just look at my suppliers. I had everything geared up for a product release last Monday.
Did it happen? No. Why? Because my suppliers were ‘too busy’.
As disappointed as I was, this was not the first time they had let me down.
I sent a couple of instagram ‘influencers’ my clothing for free to wear and post on their social media. One didn’t even post anything, and another put up a story that disappeared after 24 hours…
I have had people stand me up for photoshoots, minutes before they were meant to turn up.
I entered the elevator pitch competition at Seton Hill and I did not even place in the top eight.
I have had people tell me that it is a stupid idea and it will never work.
The hardest thing is staring failure in the face and being comfortable with it.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. If it was, we would all be successful and all start our own businesses.
Did I think it was ever going to be this hard, however? No.
Does this make me regret starting? No.
My baseball caps drop tomorrow. I landed my first official non-profit for April and I have one potentially lined up for May. This will bring about my first product of color to the Impower collection. I am also attending a venture capital fare two days this week with the slim hope of generating some capital. If you type in “Impower clothing” on Google, my website is now number one in the search results. I have lots of exciting things planned for the summer too, which will be revealed in the future!
I truly believe I can change the world with this idea. Nobody is going to persuade me otherwise.
Even though people continue to doubt me, I will continue to smile. For those of you who have supported me thus far however, you will be the people who enjoy the success with me. Note that is not to sound bitter, but rather an acknowledgement of those who stood with me when I needed them the most. When people do try and talk to me when they see the business being successful, it will be too late. I will not need you then. I need you now. So for those who have bought a shirt or spread the word about the business, thank you.
Failure is not always bad. It offers you opportunities to correct mistakes and grow. It does not make it any easier when it happens, but as my mum always used to tell me,
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.