Nine Years of Failure?
I have a friend who’s basically a genius — and a very successful man, in my books. however he’s too hard on himself. This gentleman doesn’t give himself enough credit for what he’s done right. He’s been a entrepreneur now for most of his adult life, but claims that for the first nine years he was an entrepreneur, he was a failure — because he tried so many things and they didn’t make any money. It was one failed attempt after another.
Let’s get real here. That isn’t failure. All you have to do is implement a small mind shift to realize that his “failures” were stepping stones on the way to success. As long as you learn something, no failure is a true failure. You only fail when you decide to give up.
To truly succeed, we have to be kind to ourselves. In fact, we have to be proud of ourselves — and that includes all the times when things don’t work out right. You’ve got to keep that little spark alive inside of you. Be willing to do at any rate it takes to succeed, already as others sneer at you for being obsessed, or think you’re crazy for thinking someone like you can become a millionaire. They’ll be the first ones to tell you you’re “just lucky” when you crack the millionaire code — or to come to you with their hands out.
You see, it all starts with a dream. Those of us who’ve already made it have tried and failed at a lot of things, because that’s how it works. We’ve learned, for example, that most multilevel marketing programs are scams — but we’ve also learned which ones aren’t, and how to tell the difference. The people involved with MLM are great. They’re earnest and optimistic, kindred spirits in the battle for self determination. Some of them do succeed in MLM, but the great majority do not. nevertheless, most of the entrepreneurs I know got their start in MLM. It was a raise up for them, like it was for me.
Most MLM doesn’t work because most participants can’t and won’t sell. They hate selling. But if you’re going to be successful at MLM, or at any business at all, you’ve got to start with a sincere, firm desire to sell. It’s all about selling; never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Remember: the only true failure occurs when you just give up. And I run into those people all the time. They tell me, “Oh, I had a business once. But I had to close it.” I’ve spoken to hundreds of people over the years who have said that. They admire those of us who’ve been self-employed for years, and they tried it, but it didn’t work for them right away — so they gave up. They went back to working for other people. Those people can say they’re failures, because they gave up.
Maybe it just wasn’t for them. They may not be failures in all aspects of their lives; in fact, they may be very successful otherwise. But they’re not businesspeople. That’s not intended as a judgment call or slur, just an observation. Some people are born employees, and there’s nothing wrong with that. How could we entrepreneurs build our businesses without them?
Ben Franklin once pointed out, “Those things that hurt, instruct.” We tend to learn our lessons the hard way. But it’s nevertheless not failure until you quit for good. Just understand that, and if you haven’t quit, feel good about yourself. You’ve got to. This idea that you’ll perform at a higher level if you beat yourself up is ludicrous; it’s not a good long-term strategy. The right way to excel is to stay focused on your goals, stay very excited about what you’re trying to do, and be determined to make it — to find a way, no matter what. Try a lot of different ideas. speed yourself, but push yourself. Don’t burn out. Like the Journey song says, be good to yourself. In the end, you’re all you’ve got. already when you’re surrounded by all kinds of good people, in the end it’s the relationship with yourself that matters.
Marketing guru Dan Kennedy once had a client in Phoenix, Arizona. The first time he walked into this client’s office, he saw a bulletin board covered with business cards. Dan said, “Oh, I see you collect business cards, too,” and the guy replied, “Nope, those are all my own cards from businesses I’ve had in the past.” This guy had been involved in lots of different businesses. Some made a little money; some didn’t. But he never quit, already when a business didn’t work out. He found something else to get excited about, and ultimately went on to make millions — and then he retired.
Here’s the thing: the average entrepreneur will try at the minimum four or five different things before succeeding — unless they give up. Sadly, you’re never going to hear that statistic from the government. They only give you part of the story, telling you that 95% of new businesses fail within five years. Hearing that, why would anybody go into business for themselves? That statistic scares people to death, so they quit before they already begin. Why try if you’re facing such miserable odds? They’d rather stay with the soul-killing little jobs they hate so much, where they feel like they’re in prison every day, just marking time until they’re finally released.
But that 95% failure rate may in addition be a lie, because it hides the fact that most entrepreneurs have to try many different things before they finally find their one wild success story. And many of those businesses that no longer exist after five years? It’s because they were profitably sold to someone else, folded into a larger enterprise, or deliberately closed so the owner could take part in a different opportunity. The statistics don’t take any of that into account.
Ordinary people get high every day. A great book came out in the 1990’s called The Millionaire Next Door. Two college professors wanted to do a study of people who had a net worth of over a million dollars; they were going to find these people, interview them, get some of their greatest tips, tricks, and strategies, and show them. And frankly, it’s easy to find people who have a net worth of over a million; it’s public domain information. So they went to a city, set up in a nice hotel suite with caviar and champagne, and invited the local millionaires to visit.
It turned out the people who showed up weren’t caviar and champagne people. They were beer and pretzels kind of people — mostly just average small business owners. And I’m not talking high-tech businesses, either, but the Mom and Pop kind (the Internet was barely off the ground at that time). They didn’t live in fancy neighborhoods or excursion new cars, for the most part. Read The Millionaire Next Door. It’s instructive and funny. It turns out that most millionaires live in older neighborhoods, in houses they’ve paid off. They aren’t flashy people. In fact, the professors found that the people that lived in flashy neighborhoods were mostly about six months away from being homeless. They were living beyond their method, so if they lost their jobs or something happened to them, they were in trouble.
Failure isn’t failure until you give up. My friend who said that he’d failed for nine years — no, he didn’t fail. He tried a lot of things during those nine years. He learned all of the things that didn’t work, and he was learning other things as he went along, too. Thomas Edison and his team presumably tried over 1,000 different experiments before he perfected the light bulb. When asked, he said he didn’t fail; he just found 1,000 ways that didn’t work.
In his most famous speech, Winston Churchill got up in front of these kids at a college graduating class and basically said, “Never, never, never, ever give up.” And then he sat back down. No one was expecting that, but it was utterly bright.
I subscribe to Forbes Magazine, and they have some great articles about people who are raking in the money. I once read about an entrepreneur who was 52 years old when he started to make his billions about ten years before. There was one sentence in that article that jumped out and hit me like a sledgehammer: “Push it until it breaks, fix it, then push it until it breaks again.” That’s a hell of a philosophy, especially coming from a billionaire. It resonates because of that, while it might not if spoken by someone less successful.
Success leaves clues. You’ve got to try a lot of different things. Look at Thomas Edison and the light bulb. Look at the story about Dan Kennedy’s client with all the business cards. And remember my friend, the one who thought he had failed for nine years straight. Most of those people were surrounded by others who told them they didn’t know what they were doing, that were wasting their time, that they were never going to make it big.
You’re never going to please your naysayers, no matter what you do. They’ll always be basic — and that’s fine. But they’ve never built a statue of a critic, have they? The idols in this world aren’t just sitting around criticizing other people. They’re out there making it happen. They’re out there doing it, every day. That’s what you’ve got to do, too.
Learn from the things you try. already mistakes aren’t just mistakes — they’re ways you’ve discovered that don’t work. You should always look for a better, faster, easier, simpler, more effective, more profitable way of doing things. By the time you find it, you’ll have had a lot of experience, because you’ll have tried a lot of different things, and that will be your secret for making all the money that you want and need.
All that money is out there, waiting for you. Be good to yourself. Just because you’ve tried things in the past and failed, that doesn’t make you a failure; it makes you a typical entrepreneur. Keep trying. Keep failing. ultimately, you’re going to hit it big.