Why my business failed (and why I was the reason)

I started my first business in April of 2008. I had just gotten certified as a coach, and I got into coaching because I wanted to see the difference in people’s lives. Previous to that I was working as a tech writer and while I was good at it, I didn’t feel a connection to the work. Coaching, on the other hand, made me feel like I could do something meaningful and help people.

Problem is I really didn’t know what I wanted to coach people on. From April to August, I through about coaching people on wealth, health, creativity, etc., but nothing really grabbed me. I didn’t know what I wanted to coach about.

I was planning on doing the business part time while I continued working as a tech writer. But the great recession happened and I was a contractor, which made finding work hard. So suddenly I had to coach full time. But I was still at a loss about what to coach about, until I realized that a lot of people were struggling with social media. I understood technology, so I started coaching people on social media, but I didn’t feel a lot of passion for it. I did it because I understood technology, but helping people understand it didn’t make me feel like I was making the difference I wanted to make.

Then in 2010, I switched to business coaching. The majority of people I was helping with social media were business owners and it was clear to me they needed help with a lot more than social media. Still when I switched to business coaching I was approaching how I helped businesses in a very general way. I could help with marketing, sales, operations etc, but I never really got concrete with what I offered and in retrospect, I realize because just as with the social media coaching I didn’t feel a lot of passion for what I was doing. Why was that?

The reason is because in 2008 I got forced into being a full time business owner. I had to take whatever work I could find to pay the bills and you know that’s really just a job, in another way. And even though in 2010 I switched over to business coaching, I think a huge part of what held me back there was that I also tried very hard to fit in. I had people tell me I needed to look more professional, act more professional, etc. So I would try and dress a certain way, act a certain way, fit in…

And doing that was one of the worst things I could do to my business, because in trying to fit in, I gave away my voice. I gave away my identity. And this continued with online marketing because I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. The root of my problem was that I didn’t know myself as a business owner because I was too busy trying to be someone else.

In 2016 I started to realize this and I decided to change my coaching business. I renamed it Eccentric Entrepreneurs and I started trying to figure out what it meant to be an eccentric entrepreneur…but nothing I did worked.

On top of that I was also running another business, Magical Experiments, trying to create classes that I thought people would buy. But again nothing worked. Nothing I did really connected me to people in a meaningful way. I became more and more frustrated and my efforts became more and more divided because I was trying to make 2 businesses successful and neither one was working.

I realize now why both businesses didn’t work because I needed to have one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever had: I had to fall and fail in order to discover everything I was doing wrong. 2017 rolled around and as the year progressed it became clear I was running my businesses into the ground, alienating the people who were my community because who I had become was so divorced from who I truly am. I was so caught up in trying to achieve success, but all I was doing was losing connection with the people who truly mattered and to myself.

When I closed my businesses in 2017 it was actually the best thing that could have happened to me because it forced me to step back and get some perspective. Failing and quitting, instead of persisting was exactly what I needed to do in order to recognize the truth: I didn’t know what I wanted to coach people about and I wasn’t letting my true self show through in my businesses.

That realization would help me make some important changes in 2018, which I’ll share tomorrow.