Why I don’t consider my failed business to be a failure at all
Every small business starts with a great idea
One crisp Sunday in May a few years ago I was driving my children to swimming class and had this incredible idea for a business. It hit me like a bolt of lightning.
The idea wrapped its tight little hands around my heart and refused to let go, no matter what I or my husband did to try to coax it otherwise. It was a children’s high tea party café, and it was going to make all my dreams come true and make me happy forevermore.
I knew I was not cut out to run this venture. I had no formal experience in hospitality and no idea at all about managing a small business. Also, I had three small children, which of course was already a full-time job in itself.
But anyone who has had a great business idea will say the same; once that wonderful, terrible idea has grabbed a hold of you, there’s literally nothing you can do except follow it to its fruition.
And I followed mine right to the end.
Small businesses will require you to work so much more than a regular job
I started the business, worked ridiculous hours, and made many many mistakes. I invested over $100,000 in the project, along with my physical and mental health, my heart and soul.
While admittedly I was building a good customer base, getting solid bookings, fantastic reviews and taking some money, I was a long way from breaking even.
After two years I had taken no wage, was heavily in debt and was so unwell from stress that I had to be hospitalised for over a month.
When I came home from the hospital I admitted to myself that great idea had not worked, and it was time to cut my losses and get out. I sold the business for a tiny amount. I felt relief that my customers would not be abandoned, but financially there was no relief at all. I was still in massive debt.
Every mother’s dream; run their own business and create an empire
Many mothers like me aspire to create their own business and be their own boss. They will then dictate the hours that they work, and magically fit in family and home life. They aspire to be a success and a role model to their children.
There is that terrifying moment where each new mum-preneur hesitates; What if I fail? Many get put off by this; some, like me, will dive on in regardless.
Technically I guess, I did fail. But I want to say to every mum out there considering her own great adventure; failing is not the worst that happens.
The worst that can happen is not following your dreams, not seeing what you can do. The worst that can happen is to give in to your fear and then regret for the rest of your life not being brave enough to try.
I don’t at all regret what I did, and while the business itself failed, I don’t believe that I did. Here’s some reasons why:
I loved what I was doing.
I felt enormous pride in every happy customer and every positive review. I was creating new things, learning constantly and pushing myself as a person every day.
I felt happier and more fulfilled than I had in any job before. And I created something with all my love and hard work that people adored, and that will live on and continue to create joy with its next owner.
I was (and still am) a model to my children.
I showed my children so much in what I did. I showed them belief in myself and the courage to follow my dreams. I showed them grace in making mistakes and how to learn from them and move on.
I showed them how to bounce back from adversity. They will remember my time running the children’s party business very fondly, and look back on it with a smile and pride in their mum.
I have a great wealth of knowledge now two years on.
And I wouldn’t have had that if I hadn’t been brave enough to try. This includes everything I learned about running a business, but also everything I learned about myself, and how to best look after myself and my family moving forward.
I have taken everything I have learned and put this all back into my next venture, including the vital lesson to keep my health number one priority. I grew so much and I am so proud of that. I am a far better person now than I was before I started the adventure.
I found out that I am human, and I don’t need to be superwoman.
I wanted to be such an enormous success, at everything all at once. I wanted to be an accomplished businesswoman, a polished mother, and one of those all-round incredible women that they write news articles about.
I tried to do it all, and didn’t ask for help or let anyone see that I was struggling. I will never do that again. Screw being superwoman; I’m just happy now being me.
If I was to live my life over I would still have made that great plunge.
I may have done it a bit more sensibly; not rushed in so much and been a bit more financially prepared. I would definitely have sought more help in doing it. But I certainly don’t regret what I did and if the choice came around again, I would make that leap again.
I will do it again.
I am eager and excited about the next great idea and the next great leap. I will take my wealth of knowledge and my stronger priorities and I will run my own business venture again.
My so-called failure in no way has scared me off from future adventures; if anything it has made me braver and even more confident and determined than before.
I still feel sad sometimes about the bits that didn’t work out. I look back at the innocent wide-eyed me about to start on the venture; I was so full of hope and anticipation and possibility. I had no idea what was coming.
There was a tidal wave coming, and I got completely wiped out and dumped in the sand. But with sand in my bathers I stood up, I planted my feet side by side and I took my stance again.
But I did not fail, not by any means.