WARNING! IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY FOUL LANGUAGE, THIS ONE ISNT FOR YOU. ONWARD.
Like almost every other business owner on earth I’m reflecting on this past year in business and planning for the new one. 2017 was a year of Phoenix-ing the fuck out of my business. Rising from the ashes each time a little more pissed and jaded, but somehow more determined than before. Stubborn is as stubborn does, I guess. Im kind of laughing at myself now think how I was envisioning a much smoother ride last January. I did have clearer vision, focus and all the ambition in the world, but that still didn’t stop me from belly flopping in the shallow end of business ownership on occasion. That’s right. I had some failures.
But just because I had some failures doesn’t mean I am a failure. Each time I failed, my business changed a little. It improved. Without failur my business would not work like it does now. While we all aspire to be that person who lucks into a successful business model on the first try and magically starts crushing every financial expectation, I think deep down we know that’s not realistic. Hope for the best, brace for the worst? No. First, I do not hope. Hope is not a strategy. Actually it’s the most non strategy there ever was because it doesn’t specify any tangible action or reaction. Hoping, wishing, and praying need to be done in unison with taking action. There is no part of any strategy that will help you accomplish your goals or fix problems by sitting back and crossing your fingers.
So here we are, right at the ass end of 2017 and ready to hit the restart button. How can we do better? Well, first we should learn how to fail! In my opinion there is a better way to fail and it starts with looking at failure as a positive thing. Nothing brings about needed change like failure and the sooner we accept and embrace failure for all the good things it brings us, the better off we will be. Here are just some of the things I think make failing so awesome.
How committed are you to the following:
That plan’s timeline?
To your employees?
When we fail to make commitments we fail to really nail down our objective, and if there’s no objective there is no blue print for how to accomplish it. This is where things get awfully wibbely wobbly and fall apart. Failure is eminent, and again your commitment will be challenged. Let’s use mission statements as an example. From my experience working with clients there’s often not a huge amount of time or energy spent on whipping up a mission statement. Probably due to their shitty title. No one knows what the fuck a mission is or why it’s important. A mission is literally your businesses commitment and something to fall back on when you need direction. Your mission statement helps you to remain consistent, and it helps your audience understand what is important to you and how you’re working toward those values every single day. Ok back to commitment.
Now that you’ve experienced some kind of failure and you know what doesn’t work, how committed are you to:
Admitting defeat and what brought you there?
Own it. If you fuck it up, own it. If someone on your team fucked something up on your watch, YOU need to own it. After all their hiring and training falls squarely on your shoulders. Take ownership of failure and then take ownership of improvement. Take responsibility for holding others and yourself accountable. If you suck at self accountability find a mentor or an accountability group. Learn and grow from the knowledge you need to own the shit out of your results every single day. We live in an excuse ridden era where we’d rather point the blame on anything or anyone other than ourselves. I’ve blogged and facebooked about this before, but this a great opportunity to revisit this amazing question!
WHAT IS YOUR BUT? ....Yeah, you heard me. What is that thing you say “ I really wanted to do this BUT......” fill in any excuse you can think of here. The hard hitting truth is you’re either going to make an excuse or you’re going to execute. It’s really that simple. Not everything is easy, but we make excuses as a surival instinct to talk ourselves away from things that make us nervous. It’s really fight or flight and 110% all mental. There’s always a way, you just need to realize no one can do it but you and you need to do both of these things COMMIT and OWN the shit out of it.
Challenge what you know, and challenge industry standards. There are so many different ways to arrive at the same answer. Challenge your failure. How can it make you a bigger and better person? How did this failure teach you something? Failure doesn’t make your vision or your objective wrong, it makes the plan for achieving them better. There are infinite ways to refine a plan until it works, but you must be willing to challenge yourself not to give up too quickly. Challenge what you know and what you don’t. Challenge yourself to push on even through the set backs.
Rushing into anything almost guarantees an incredibly high failure rate. Don’t forget to plan. Don’t forget structure. Don’t forget that YOU need a system. That system doesn’t have to look anything like anyone else’s, but it does have to keep you from distractions, and skipping important steps in achieving your goal! Be patient and forgiving of yourself. You don’t know what you don’t know, but don’t worry..you WILL find out as soon as you’re in a situation that requires expertise you simply don’t possess. Prioritize quality over quantity. Do not learn on the clients dime. They deserve a fully equipped and knowledgable professional and you need to do a quality jobs. Don’t rush into work you aren’t qualified to do just for the sake of earning a paycheck. Patience doesn’t pay the bills in the now, but it will in the long run when you take the time to really specify the who, what, when, where and why of your business.
Accept and admit defeat. Ask for help! Outsource those things you don’t know how to do, don’t want to do, or those things you are just shitty at doing. Be honest with yourself and own your strengths and opportunities. The more focused you can be on the things you’re good at it and love to do the better you will be. The support is out there just waiting for you to ask for it. Unfortunately not everything in business is a DIY project. Leave the DIY to pillow making, and decorations. We’ve all seen those Pinterest cupcake fails. There are just as many business related Pinterest fails, but snapping a photo of those issues are generally closely guarded secrets and in the moment, probably not very funny to us.... maybe this should be thing?!
Fake it till you make it no more! Fail the shit out of something and then come clean. Share the story. Share your missteps and the learning experiences. It just might help someone else, or shed a very much needed light on the topic of business failures. One mishap isn’t going to sink your business, but you would be surprised how many people walk away without ever realizing their potential all because they felt they were struggling alone. Without candidly sharing their hardship with anyone they were unable to get the support and encouragement they needed. Not to mention the help they needed to right their wrongs.
Get real. Like, really real. Especially with yourself on your strengths and weaknesses. Make a plan for improving the things you care to do better. Be honest with your employees and your clients. Admit when you’ve fudged it up. You’re human. Making mistakes is very, very common. Take responsibility instead of deflecting blame or making excuses. Is this sounding familiar yet?! When it comes to failures it is so much easier to point the finger, but that doesn’t help us grow. It’s super hard to take the reason you’d like to blame the failure on and then there’s usually the real reason somewhere under that…pointing right back in your direction.
So what does this all have to do with branding? And my answer really isn’t any different than the answers I’ve given in the past. This all has EVERYTHING to do with branding. Every decision you make impacts client experience, and your brand identity, which is how people feel, and view your business. When we try to sweep failure under the rug there’s just a huge lump under the rug for us to keep tripping over. Using it to our advantage by growing and learning from it helps us to architect a better brand that strategically understand our clients needs better, and helps our business efficiently rise to the occasion.
Think of a flower for a moment. Pretty and conspicuous on the outside, but flowers have stems and roots that keep them alive, and although not as pretty are still essential to its existence. Branding your business internally might be more important in 2018 than it ever has. The need for small business branding to be more sensual and intimate increases daily. People want to know the business they’re supporting better than they ever did before. They want to support businesses that matter to them. They want to feel connected and invested in a part of your story, and the very first step to all of that is knowing how to fail and what do when it happens!