Today I'd like to share a piece of advice which I've learned over my years in this industry. No matter how long you've been in this field, you know how important it is to do your research. We tell newbies to read everything they can, to learn as much as they can before they start. The common notion is that knowledge will help fight failure.
Well, I'm here to say knowledge has no definite relation to your chance at success.
More importantly, failure is inevitable. It WILL happen to you, regardless of your level of knowledge or experience. It doesn't matter how hard you try, the universe doesn't care about how intensely you want to succeed. You ARE, without a doubt, going to fail.
Failure is Fear
The biggest fear most people have, especially in business, is the fear of failure. We put so much time, effort, and money in our businesses that we want to see a return. In some cases, people have put everything they have into it and failure could be rather catastrophic.
In order to fight this, many people spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars learning everything they can. They want to know every last bit of information, every variable or potential outcome. In short, people want to know every step before they even begin.
This leads to the biggest trap in the IM world. You spend so much time learning and researching that you never take action. You rationalize your lack of action by telling yourself that you aren't knowledgeable enough to begin. Eventually you start to believe this mantra. You can't start now, you say, because you don't yet know enough.
Failure is Success
When you do this, you're missing out on the most valuable learning experience you can find. I've personally been quite successful in IM but that didn't happen right away. My history of failure, in fact, dates back long before I ever entered this field.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I can draw better than 90% of the USA but it still never went anywhere. I tried starting a graphic design business but that eventually failed. I was part of a web design company but that failed as well. I've started websites, designed products, and tried out different IM strategies which all failed.
I've also worked with a lot of entrepreneurs. I've seen countless businesses grow and fall apart. I've seen people invest thousands in developing a product only to have it die in the water. One entrepreneur, who runs a successful coffee brand, went so far as to tell me:
"You can't call yourself an entrepreneur unless you've had three businesses fail already."
The Hidden Commonality
What I've noticed throughout my life is that not only has every entrepreneur I've known failed at one time or another, the successful ones are no longer afraid of failure. We all want to create the next big product, we all want to command a million dollar company but we think that will happen on our first time out.
The only reason truly successful people have managed to create something great is because they stopped being afraid of failure. It is always a concern, of course, but it is not such a strong fear that they never try.
One day I realized why they weren't afraid. I realized this after thinking of all the failures I've experienced in my life. The truth is failure is absolutely the best way to discover what works. There is simply no replacement for what you can learn by failing.
The following are a few steps which will allow you turn your failures into future success:
1. Know when to quit
To get the most out of your failures, you have to know how to do it right. The first step is know when to quit. You need to get out there, pick a strategy and see how far it takes you. Not every effort will fail in the beginning. Some may take a while, they might even be successful for some time, but there may come a point at which you need to let it go.
Don't waste any extra time on a sinking ship. If things are not working, if you've tried your best but still aren't getting anywhere, it's time to give up. The precise point at which you should give up will vary from case to case. The key to knowing when to do it is to be honest with yourself.
2. Analyze what went wrong
Businesses fail for a number of reasons. More often than not, however, there is one main contributing factor. It could be ineffective marketing, a bad product, or a market which is simply not spending any money. You need to look for the root cause, the fundamental flaw in your plan.
Once you've found it, you need to analyze it. It's important to understand why it failed and how that affected the rest of the business. If, for example, you chose a niche which simply doesn't spend money, you'll understand why there wasn't much competition.
3. Factor that into your next plan
I never tell people to only focus on one thing at a time. I will, in fact, go as far as to suggest that you should constantly be coming up with new ideas. Let them flow into your mind, write them down and leave them for later. This is more of a mental exercise than anything else but it also has one major benefit.
As you come up with ideas, you will eventually come up with a few very good ones. If you put your heart into something and it failed, you still have a notebook full of other ideas. Now that you understand why your previous idea never became successful, you can analyze your other ideas with this knowledge in mind.
You'll be able to single out only the best ideas because you now have real world, action based experience in this industry.
4. Try again
This is the most important step. Some of the most successful people in the world failed repeatedly. If they didn't try again, however, they never would have become successful in the end.
You failed. It's not a big deal. If you had quit in time then you didn't waste too much effort or money. You must try again. When you do, you'll be more experienced and more powerful than ever before.
A cycle of success
Failure is just one step in success. Every time you fail, you are getting closer to finding a successful strategy. It really doesn't matter what you do in the world of IM, you will never be successful until you've failed a few times. This can be a frightening concept for some but the only way to fight your fears is to face them.
Once you've tasted failure and found that it's easy to wash out, you won't fear it anymore. As you gain more experience, you'll see that failure is simply a different kind of success. When we try something, we are trying to see if it works or not. If it doesn't work, we still have our answer and are better able to formulate a new theory.
In short, the absolute best advice I can give to anyone, not just newbies, is to get out there and fail, fail, fail. That's how you learn to be successful.