When I first launched into entrepreneurship I just knew I had everything it took to build and operate a successful business. I had the successful sales background, the boldness of a lion and in my opinion, fairly charismatic, or so I thought. I learned very quickly that those are great qualities of an entrepreneur, but that I was going to need a lot more than that to build the type of business, I said I was going to build.
I earned a lot of money my first 10 months in business, but all of that came crashing down when I hadn’t built a system to sustain the business I was building. I was working 14-16 hour days, dropping the ball and honestly, upsetting everyone, including my team, and then BOOM the inevitable happened. Business started to TANK and I almost lost my business.
Today I want to share with you 3 Powerful Failure Lessons that are also helping me to succeed:
1.Build a system with processes to handle expansion EARL
Honestly – I was so excited about finally launching my branding agency that it never crossed my mind to have timelines, a detailed process or even deadlines for my clients and designers. With this major mishap I ended up processing thousands of dollars in refunds, apologizing every 2-3 days for business issues & having to work with clients almost 2 years after they originally made their purchases because I didn’t have a “must use by” deadline in my contracts.
2. Communicating expectations in advance
With the consulting side of business this was easy since everyone always dials into a conference line for their calls, but when it came time for our design clients, we lacked the foresight to communicate what to expect in advance. Many of our clients work daytime jobs and after 5pm they had the expectation to be able to communicate with us and on the weekends, but we failed to share with them that although we are a digital business, we only have regular 9-5 work hours and off on weekends. This caused us A LOT of problems. At times our clients would take to social media posting and tagging or sending me private messages after hours expecting for me to respond and we I didn’t when they want, I would wake up to serious HATE MAIL!
Now – I think we are all grown adults and should be able to police ourselves accordingly, but our failure to communicate this in advance I guarantee it costs us a lot of money and clients.
3. Failure to plan for religious holidays
THIS WAS A BIG ONE! So for those of you that are aware, I am a Christian, so I am aware of all of the religious holidays and customary practices. Well some of my team members are muslim and have a religious holiday called Ramadan. I had NEVER heard of that holiday until I couldn’t get a hold of an entire group of designers for 3 weeks! I thought they had taken my deposits and ran. My clients were highly upset with all of the delays, I was giving refunds like it was candy and still had no idea what was going on… until, I got a message back explaining they were on a holiday.
I wanted to be furious, but how dare I say anything negative about someone celebrating THEIR religion. Instead, I explained the need for them to communicate in advance when they would have days off AND I planned in advance each year around that time AND communicate to my clients what will happen for the next 21 days.
But listen – that first year it was a hot mess express!! JUST A MESS!
Today we have so many systems, processes in place that our new clients wonder if we are a New York City agency because its SUPER thorough in the beginning, but I have learned that if I am going to stay in business, then I have to handle my business.