As aspiring entrepreneurs, we can’t help but find pleasure in stories about successful businesses, which bring out a sense of delight and motivation in all of us. We watch for lessons to learn from those companies, but businesses also fail. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one out of five businesses will fail in their first year, with half of small businesses failing in the first five years. With that said, the past 24 months have been trial after trial for me.
I started my marketing and public relations business in April of 2019 because I had previously been homeless and I didn’t have any childcare for my children. I started taking on small clients to create book covers for them, get their names in the media and to assist them with marketing their businesses. Within six months I had completed radio interviews, published a best seller on Amazon and was now being paid more by clients who needed my help. By the end of the year, I had successfully made six figures, and while that was revenue and not profit, I was still profitable. I felt motivated to do more, be more and leave a legacy behind. As my business picked up, I was afforded the opportunity to grow my personal brand and put out content that would help others. I was quickly learning more about marketing and PR, and enjoying every moment of it.
Fast forward to 2020, and my business continued to expand. I was able to hire team members to help me and they became my first employees. I got to work with some amazing public figures and celebrities, and business was thriving. I hit over 1K subscribers on my personal brand’s YouTube channel, secured sponsorship deals, completed collaborations and my clientele grew. When COVID hit, I was able to pivot from pitching clients to providing content from my personal brand that could assist others. I wrote a few more books, published a few more articles and continued to grow my YouTube channel, all while managing a roster full of clients and new employees that I had hired.
Following a mental breakdown in December of 2020, which included suicidal ideation, I was committed to a psychiatric facility. Upon being released from the hospital, I took a sabbatical for a few months. February of 2021 came around and CPS arrived at my door. They strongly suggested that my children go live with their grandmother after getting a complaint about my mental health. Despite feeling the weight of the world crashing down on me, I tried to push through. After all, my brand revolved around my ability to persevere, push through tough times and keep going no matter what. I began soliciting for more high-profile clients, got them some amazing media coverage and hired a few more interns. Regardless of the pains in my personal life, I was determined to endure them.
I pushed through until the end of 2021 came around. That’s when I got a new client who quickly became a distraction. My other clients started to reach out and tell me that they weren’t happy with the services that I provided them, even the ones who were still getting results. Although my work ethic hadn’t changed, the pandemic was bringing about an insane rollercoaster ride of clients coming and going. Then, in October of 2021, I got hit by a car. This became the last straw and it sent me over the edge. I was losing clients so my revenue was quickly decreasing and my mental health was spiraling. I had officially failed my clients, my employees, my audience and my family.
I wanted to be an inspiration and help people, but I felt like I couldn’t help myself. I got to a point where I wasn’t reliable to my clients and I couldn’t afford to pay my employees. I got crumpled by the weight of my business, and here’s where I went wrong: My business wasn’t formed properly and my day-to-day operations weren’t organized. My business accounts were all over the place, my expenses continued to grow and suddenly more money was going out than what was coming in.
Additionally, I had plenty of employees who could help me carry the workload but I wasn’t relying on them enough. I was in the mindset that if I wanted anything done right, I’d have to do it myself. My very capable team felt the backlash of this, because as great as they were at their job, I couldn’t afford to pay them because of my own mistakes.
No one wants to fail, but ultimately, it’s a part of life. All in all, I learned a lot and I’m now prepared to step into a new chapter of my life. I’m not sure what that chapter will look like, however, I won’t let the fear of my past hold me back. I know that whatever I choose to do, I’ll have the wisdom and knowledge from my past mistakes to guide me forward. I needed to fail so that I could fail forward in life and hold myself accountable.
It’s been a trying few years for me, but being able to take care of my family and get back on track with medication has made all the difference. I now prioritize my health and ask for help when I need to. I may not be perfect or have all of the answers, but I’m still willing to help others and pass along any knowledge that I have.
Sometimes, lessons learned from failed businesses are more crucial for your journey compared to successful ones.