Have you ever truly tried to do something and just completely failed? I’m talking about falling on your face so hard you can actually physically feel it? If you’re an entrepreneur, then you probably know the feeling. From this failure blossomed a prosperous marketing agency that services 7 car dealerships in two states, dozens of local Southeast Michigan businesses, and employs an incredible group of creative minds. Here’s how it happened.
It was 2012 and I felt like a total failure. My business had tanked and I was in massive debt. Student loans, business loans, credit cards, you name it. I had filed for bankruptcy and developed a progressive drinking problem to make things worse. I don’t think it’s possible to feel defeat more than genuinely trying your hardest and failing. I felt it everyday.
I had received $50,000 in funding for my first startup and assembled an amazing team. We were going to build a new SAS (software as a service) tech company and our idea was fire! My ego at the age of 25 was largely inflated by the slightest breeze of success, as you can imagine. There was something missing that took me losing everything to discover.
A business is very similar to having a baby. There’s an infant stage, the terrible twos, the teenage years, and maturing to adulthood. Most businesses never make it past the terrible twos. It’s very difficult to think long term when the short term demands are slapping you right in the face everyday. I referring to bills, vendors, deadlines, contractors, staff issues, and more bills. My mindset was off from the start and I didn’t even know it.
I recall watching the movie The Social Network about how Facebook came to fruition. I had fantasized about quick success, a Lamborghini , and big houses. I had to have it! The idea was always to create something useful and help others but good vibes don’t pay the bills. I slowly noticed my attention shifting towards the first big payout. I applied increasing pressure on my team to deliver results and began racking up the working capital expenses. I learned many very valuable lessons through this ticking-time-bomb of a business. The biggest takeaway for me though was to never lose sight of the vision and embrace failure.
Failure doesn’t mean I lost or wasn’t good enough. It was the light shining on my path providing me with clear cut direction on my next steps. It gave me data as to where I needed to make adjustments. The hard part was picking myself up and getting back on course with the original vision of creating something useful. I had joined a 12 step program and began to turn my life around. Those good people shared their experiences of hope with me. It’s a funny paradox the amount of pride that comes with failing I found out. It’s very difficult to admit defeat at times but so very freeing. Maybe you can relate?
I got a job as a cook at a local restaurant. The two amazing people that ran that business taught me how to treat your employees with respect and consideration. I was transparent about my story with them from the start. They shared their early business trials with me and became very good friends of mine. Today they are one of the most successful restaurants in the area. I thank them for all they taught me.
I still had the entrepreneur bug and I had to set it free. I found a mentor and accompanied it with just about every online course you’ve ever seen in your Facebook feed. Soon I had a higher paying job as an automotive service technician and saved up some money. I quickly started running Facebook ads, Youtube videos promos, and Google campaigns selling inexpensive products online. It wasn’t long after that I found what I truly love to do and left my day job.
I wanted to help businesses make commercials that didn’t suck so they could get more customers. Plain and simple. I discovered an opportunity to help improve TV spots, social ads, and Google paid search in the area. My friends were involved in the local film industry. They shared with me their knowledge of video production and editing. I knew social ads and how to sell but wasn’t the most well versed in this video realm. We had a team.
Early that next week, I knocked on every business’ door in the area and told them I wanted to give them a free video. I literally mean every business’ door. Most of them said no. Some said maybe. Sometimes I may have told a white lie and said I had permission to film already. I figured once the owners saw the video they wouldn’t care anyway. Turns out people really like free stuff.
When it was time to deliver a video, I would schedule a meeting to show the owner/s the content. The meeting would include a demo, the video, photos, a digital presence audit, and an agreement. I always go into a meeting ready to take a signature and payment. I keep it short and focus on listening to their needs. If there is a want and need, you just need a signature my mentor always tells me.
I believe in my team and they believe in me. You’d be hard pressed to get a bad review from one of our clients about our services. We’re consistently approached to upgrade plans and new clients find us every month simply from word-of-mouth. Our vision today is Better Content, More Customers for our clients. We look towards building long-term healthy business relationships that go outside the norm of short-term marketing contracts. I embraced my failures as a data point for business success and continue to learn more everyday. Take risks, embrace failure, help others. The money comes as a byproduct.