(Guest post by: Alyse Stehl)
Are you failing?
If you have a business then you have no doubt heard many sayings about how the more you fail the closer you are to success. Maybe your blog never took off like you expected it too, or your affiliate links just aren’t bringing in income. What if you have a pretty good business but your needs and wants changed so now you want to start a different business? Does that mean you failed?
When I started a wine and paint studio 4 years ago, I had two kids and hadn’t planned on having anymore. But then 18 months into one of the coolest businesses I have ever owned, I had a surprise pregnancy. And my mind immediately went to “what am I going to do with my business?”
Because from experience of being pregnant and having a baby when my husband and I owned a gym, I knew that I didn’t want to have a business to run and a new baby to look after. Staying up all night with a newborn meant I couldn’t stay up all night to work on my website or catch up on emails, or most of all: paint! So I made the decision to shut it down.
I was making enough money to have this business pay for all my bills (studio rent, employees, equipment & supplies) and pay myself a little salary. I even expanded, bought a truck and took my business to a whole new level – mobile paint parties! My business was never in the red but I felt like I failed. Was shutting it down actually failing in disguise?
Maybe shutting down my business felt like failing because I knew it could be more or at least I knew if I had the right person it could continue. I started to beat myself up wondering why I couldn’t just have kids and my business, but three kids with one of them a newborn I still couldn’t justify running a business and letting my home life & marriage suffer. I’m a terrible multitasker with extremely high expectations of myself as a mom.
I learned an important lesson through all of this which I hope you take to heart. You need to have a way out of any business. It sucks to think of the end and not doing this pretty cool thing, but it’s even worse when you HAVE to make a decision and you never planned on it.
Shutting it down was not the answer for me and I didn’t know it until one of my employees offered to buy it. Why didn’t I think of that? Of course, that was the answer! I had a huge client list filled with loyal customers, a studio already filled with equipment and supplies, 5-star reviews and passionate instructors. All I had to do was put a price tag on it and go about my merry way. Oh yeah, and then go through the contract phase. And the hardest part… giving up the keys. Everything turned out ok, and eventually, my successor ended up selling the business again, so it’s STILL going strong!
How to tell if you are failing at business:
- You might just have a hobby and you are not failing. It’s totally ok to have a hobby but if your dreams of making a decent income on your side hustle are falling short, then it’s time to buckle up and grow. It’s time to take your hobby to the next level by either raising your prices, diving in full-time or making some other tweak where you can pay yourself. Hire a business coach, read up on running a business or get a business mentor. Maybe they can see where you need improvement. I love photography, but I don’t want to charge $300 for my services. I charge $50. This is because I only work with family and friends and I don’t market to outside customers. And I love it – it’s a passion project because I want people I love to have decent pictures at an affordable price. I am totally ok with having this hobby that brings in very little cash. (check out alysemedia on Facebook!)
- Are you out of the red? If you made an initial investment in your business and you haven’t been able to pay it back, then you could be failing. I say “could be” because it is wise to reinvest in the business if you are growing. Reinvesting could mean buying a new laptop, increasing inventory for new accounts or finally getting that bad ass website to make sales easier. On average it takes a new business about 6 months to get out of the red. If you have all the things and you still aren’t able to pay your initial investment back or even give yourself a little mad money, it might be time to have someone on the outside give you a little advice.
- Are you getting paid your worth? Ok, so you’re not in the red, but you’re pulling in a ridiculously low salary. When you calculate how much you’ve paid yourself versus the hours you’ve worked you’re barely making minimum wage. That’s not fair to you. It’s time to reassess or you’re going to start resenting your business and clients. This will FEEL like failing. You might have everything running smoothly with positive cash flow, but your prices might be too low.
- Do you have clients coming in for future months? How much of a backlog do you have? Are you sold out of inventory or is your calendar booked through the end of the year? Or are you on your knees praying every single night that your next client will be coming in tomorrow? Your marketing efforts are failing, it’s time to learn about Facebook ads or other forms of marketing that work for your industry. It takes more than praying to get clients through your door.
How do you prevent failing?
It’s always good to have a starting point as to WHY you are starting your business. Is it to help pay bills? If it’s to pay bills, lock down how much or which bills you are paying. If it’s to have side money, how much side money EXACTLY? Having these measurements in place will help you determine if your small business or side hustle is worth your time.
Yes, you probably will fail
It just might not look like you think it will. Maybe you failed at marketing or having high enough pricing on your products. Whatever it is you will eventually learn from it. Instead of you failing at business as a whole, you might just need work in certain areas. These blips are what separate the winners from the losers. Keep moving, keep seeking help from others who have been there and get as much support as you can. Turn those passions and hobbies into thriving businesses. I promise it can be done!
Alyse is a stay at home mom to four children and a side hustle entrepreneur. Her blog is currently under construction but stay tuned for more!
You can find her at themavenmom.com
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