From time to time, I blog about some­thing oth­er than writ­ing or social media. In fact, before this site became my busi­ness site last year, it was my per­son­al site, so there are quite a few per­son­al mus­ings in the archives.

Today, I want to talk about entre­pre­neur­ship.

Last month, I was a guest lec­tur­er in two small busi­ness man­age­ment class­es at the Leth­bridge Col­lege. I spoke about my entre­pre­neur jour­ney, includ­ing my chal­lenges and suc­cess­es. I gave the stu­dents lots of advice about start­ing up a busi­ness, but one piece of advice that has stuck in my mind in the weeks since was this:

You’re going to fail.

I got a chuck­le out of the stu­dents when I said it, but I want­ed them to real­ize this impor­tant advice. Too many peo­ple come out of high school or post-sec­ondary school­ing ide­al­is­tic and star­ry eyed. They think they’re going to make it big, or at the very least, they think it’ll be easy.

Per­son­al­ly, my wife and I have failed 8 times. Hot Pep­per Com­mu­ni­ca­tions is our 9th busi­ness, and final­ly, it has been our most suc­cess­ful. It‘s kind of fun­ny actu­al­ly because 9 is my favourite num­ber.

Here are the 8 busi­ness­es that didn’t make it:

  • Home baked goods
  • Voice lessons
  • Web design
  • Voice lessons (again, but in a new city)
  • Win­dow wash­ing
  • Child­birth edu­ca­tion
  • Nutri­tion­al con­sult­ing
  • Homes school­ing sup­plies (retail)

They all failed for var­i­ous rea­sons, and some fail­ures we felt more than oth­ers. Some required lots of start­up cap­i­tal (which we’re still pay­ing off), some we broke even on, and some we made prof­it on but nev­er enough to live off.

I learned a lot of lessons along the way. For exam­ple, I will nev­er run a retail busi­ness ever again, and I will nev­er start a busi­ness that requires large start­up cap­i­tal unless I have a guar­an­tee I can make it back.

Fail­ure is part of entre­pre­neur­ship. It’s one of the risks you must be will­ing to take if you ven­ture out on your own. In my opin­ion, it’s a risk worth tak­ing. You will learn more lessons through fail­ure than you will in a text­book. You will learn that forces exist that are out of con­trol and that will tear you down. You will learn that you need to be able to live off noth­ing some­times if you want the busi­ness to sur­vive. You will learn that you can’t live your life as if your client is going to pay their invoice this month.

All the lessons you learn will either teach you you’re not cut out to be an entre­pre­neur, or they will teach you to fix what went wrong and to give it anoth­er shot.

Don’t wor­ry. I wasn’t all doom and gloom with those stu­dents. I told them that just because they were prob­a­bly going to fail doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it. It just means they should try again. After all suc­cess is not a lack of fail­ure, but the abil­i­ty to get back up and try again.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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