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The Year I Lost Everything – Lessons Learned from Business Failure

Three years ago, my kids and I were homeless. Thankfully it never went so far as us living in our car or a shelter, but we were wholly dependent on another family for our housing. I had to apply for food stamps. And I have never been so ashamed in my whole life!

And it’s taken every minute of these last years to be able to admit this publicly. To put out there just how thoroughly I failed as an entrepreneur. Do you have any idea how humbling that is?

I had been in business for over 10 years at that point. I wasn’t a start up. I had been doing this, the same thing. And in one fell swoop I was wiped out. And I hate to the bearer of bad news, but this can happen and has happened to many entrepreneurs.

And it’s really hard not to give up. Not to hang your head in shame and back track or worse still to give up on your dreams.

But my catastrophic failure as a business owner was one of the best lessons I ever learned. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was miserable. But in the end, the many lessons I learned about business and about myself were well worth it. Here are a few of the lessons that I think every business owner needs to know.

Lessons Learned from Business Failure

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

As I grew my business, loyal clients took more and more of my time. I grew comfortable. And I stopped marketing, I stopped growing. And when my customers moved on…well, I was left high and dry. Now in my rebuilding phase…I am learning to diversify, to expand my marketing and to vary my clients and their industries. (And I might also be consider diversifying my product offerings.)

Swallow your pride and ask for help.

There is no shame is asking for help. We all need it at some point and in different areas. Reach out to your friends, your business network and tell them what you are looking for, what you have to offer and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It’s is amazing how powerful it is to learn you are not alone. And you never know who else might need to know they are not alone as well.

It’s okay to take time and revamp.

Breathe. Take a step back and let your thoughts flow over you. Makes lists. Talk to trusted advisors. Do some studying. And be open to change. Just because you fall down, it doesn’t mean you have to jump right back up. Sit there for a minute, evaluate the circumstances and then dust yourself off before you stand back up and take another stab at it.

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

You’ve heard the saying, never give up, try, try again. But that doesn’t mean you have to try the same thing over and over again. Sometimes you need to think outside the box. Sometimes you have to change paths completely. But hold true to your end goal…supporting your family doing something you love, having the freedom to be where you need or want to be or bringing a new product or service to market. Don’t quit because it didn’t work the way you started…take a look for a different route. And change it up a bit. Embrace what works and drop what doesn’t!

And most important…

Don’t ever give up on you, on your dreams!