I’ve tried to develop (or start) 5 products over the past two years.
Not one has made me a penny of income. When reading hacker news, micropreneur academy forums and talking with friends who “are
making it,” I get frustrated and anxious: “Why not me? How come every
business I try and develop fails?” Then I get all sad and mopey of a
I wanted to write up this blog for anyone else who can relate, and keep
it as a reference for myself when I have yet another product that has
Here are some things that help me whenever I fail and I feel sucky:
The greats say failure is very important
Lots of people think failure is key to success. Check out what these
business/thought leaders have said:
Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite
simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of
failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be
discouraged by failure or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make
mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you’ll find
success.” – Thomas Watson (CEO of IBM for 30 years)
When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not
sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted
goal. – Napoleon Hill (Business Guru)
“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –
“If you are not failing, you are not growing.” – H. Stanley Judd
“Success is a poor teacher. We learn the most about ourselves when we
fail, so don’t be afraid of failing. Failing is part of the process of
success. You cannot have success without failure.” – Rich Dad (From
Robert Kiyosaki’s book)
Other great ones here
Find people that support you
I’ve found when things aren’t working out, having people who care about
me and how well I do really makes a big difference.
I’ve developed a strong group of people around me who want to know where
I’m at, and how they can help:
- My wife
- The group of men I meet for breakfast on Friday
- A lifecoach I meet with every two weeks
- Some close, trusted friends
- Other local entrepreneurs who I have on an ongoing Skype chat
Who do you have looking out for you who can keep you focused and support
Avoid emotional attachment to your business
When I started developing products, I was quite blind to the reality of
how one builds a business. When it was time to throw in the towel (for
perfectly valid reasons) I couldn’t let it go. That was unhealthy.
Since I’ve now followed the Lean Startup methodology, I’m far less
emotionally engaged in my business since I’m developing customers
before I code anything. This means, if I don’t have anyone
interested in the product after a few hours of interviews, maybe it’s a
If your identity is tied to your business, why is that?
Take care of your body
A few years ago, I would start work at 8:30am and would need a nap by
10:30am. I had some pretty serious sensitivities to some foods. I even
found that if I ate certain foods, it would affect how I thought. For
example, if I ate too much sugar, I would become lethargic and unhappy.
Once I figured out how certain food affected me, I now avoid altogether
and feel a lot better.
More recently, I started “couch to 5k” (C25k) just to be a better steward
of the body I have. Into the second month I actually found I had more
energy and a greater desire to work hard, create things and the ability
to take negative things in stride.
Be grateful for what you DO have
Sure, my desire to create a product that nets me $10k/month isn’t
something I have yet. Should I then be unhappy about life? Let’s
- I have a fantastic wife.
- A beautiful daughter
- Great parents, brother and inlaws
- A job where I get to create great products for clients
- I work from home (or from France as I am doing right now)
- I pull in a great hourly wage
- I have a roof over my head and food on the table (and we can eat out
from time to time).
- God is good!
So really, is life all that bad? No, life is great actually.
Evaluate what your failures have taught you
If I look at each failure I can tangibly say that I’ve learn quite a bit
about building a business from each one. With every lesson learned, one
can leap frog to making better and better decisions, giving way for a
greater chance of success. For example from my previous business
: Build something quickly that is useful for people to see if people
will actually use the thing! What’s your business model?
: Figure out if you’re actually solving a real problem by talking to
customers before you build the product, otherwise you might build
something no one cares about. (Story here)
: Good luck trying to get house cleaning people to go on the record and
use anything other than cash only. Avoid building something for someone
that requires a TON of educating the customer WHY they need your
product. Find people that are searching for it already. (Story here)
: Even if people have a yearning for a product, you need to monetize it in the early
stage. (Story here)
The chances are good that is I continue learning and trying stuff, I’ll
find something that works!
Find stuff outside of the technology world that you love
I love sailing, there’s no business involved, and it’s social. Find
something that you can retreat to that helps you recharge.
What works for you?
I’m always looking for other ways to stay positive in the face of
failure. What have you found that works?