This is probably the hardest blog I’ll ever have to write. It’s about my greatest failure in business. It left me depressed for months. My depression was so bad I didn’t even want to get out of bed. It also financially ruined me and completely defeated my spirit.
In 2012, I quit my job to become an online millionaire, or so I thought. How was I going to make my first millions? Yes, millions- plural! Silicon Valley, of course, right in my own kitchen. I developed an app. To clarify, I didn’t know how to make the app, so I really developed the concept for an app. That concept grew in my mind to be my ticket to success. I even tried to pay someone to make it. What I did know was how to sell. What I soon found out was there were so many other things I didn’t know.
I literally tried to run into this business faster than the speed of sound. I thought it would be a great idea to spend money to make money. You know, like everyone says, “It takes money to make money”- right?
So, I started my lightning speed transition to success by pre-selling spots to be on this magical app I conceptualized. To help the process move along quickly, I decided to use the funds from pre-sales to pay a web designer to develop the website and app.
I thought, “Man, if there are more people selling, we could make more money. And, more money means more customer acquisition opportunities. We would have more than enough money to spend to get this off the ground.” As you probably can predict, this was not the right idea. In fact, it was a horrible idea. If I were on Sharktank, Mr. Wonderful would tell me to take that idea out back and shoot it.
At the time, though, I thought my idea was the best NEW thing. I thought people everywhere would purchase it, it would work perfectly, and all would live happily ever after.
What was the nifty concept that would help turn my real life into a techy fairytale? It was an app called Mybrides, an app that allows brides to search for wedding vendors based on their wedding date. No more calling around to see who is available. With this app, all brides everywhere already knew who would play the fairy godmother role for their special day.
I built an international sales team out of Canada and had people selling locally all across the nation. There were reps from Los Angeles to Georgia selling this perfect idea. I even flew to New York to go to meet wedding vendors. I met with patrons in New Jersey to put a face to the name of this company. My face became the brand- Mybrides.
Since I was clearly in the spending mood to help make this dream a reality, I even decided to pay reps commission. Considering my magic wand, a.k.a. money, was still working, I bought plane tickets. I paid for convention space at trade shows and bridal shows. I knew that I needed to hit both sides of selling and promoting. I had to have the brides downloading the app to keep the vendors on the app. I had to have the vendors on the app to get the brides to download it.
So, I built all the buzz and made Mybrides a huge deal. I even went to this event called Wedding MBA in Las Vegas to launch the new company. When I got there, Cinderella arriving at the ball, our website was fully functional. It was fabulous and our android app released the same day. The spell was cast and everything was working in my favor. Most of it was an illusion that would soon be brought to light like the clock striking midnight. At this time, I had only $20 left in my bank account, my credit cards were maxed out, and I had taken cash advances to pay people.
The clock striking finally awakened me when I found out our web designer couldn’t make the Apple app. We literally didn’t have a fully functioning product. The coach became a pumpkin and the horses were back to mice. Reality set in and it hit me hard. Instead of regrouping and trying to figure out how to make things work or finding an investor to keep the “ball” going, I gave up completely on my idea. I threw in the towel and tried to figure out ways to refund people. I lost everything. My dream. My money. My ambition.
Looking back on that day now, I know that there is a moral to that real life nightmare. After many other successful ventures, I know what should have happened to actually bring that story to life.
What I should’ve done was find an investor. I should’ve built the website and had a product before starting to sell ad space. The concept was great; it literally sold without the product in the customer’s hands. The execution was poor and could have been easily avoided.
What I did following the reality check is what most people do when they feel like their dream is too magical for real life. I took a job I hated, prayed that we would get enough money back from our income taxes to refund everyone who had paid anything to us, and I momentarily stopped dreaming. I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle the failure. I laid in bed and didn’t get up, and I didn’t want to do anything most the time. As gross as it may seem, I didn’t even change clothes or take a shower. I had failed at one thing I thought I could do better than anyone else. I tried so hard to make Mybrides a success that I failed before it even started.
This failure led me to my first BIG little lesson as it relates to business. Don’t use money as a magic wand. Know when to stop while you are ahead, drop the ego, and know your role. This doesn’t mean to kill ideas, this means to look at the reality of the dream. My concept was amazing, but the reality, at the time, was I had no business background. I had no business trying to create something that big without a support system. I mean, would Cinderella have made it to the ball by herself?
I wanted to prove to the world that I could do it all on my own, but I was wrong. No successful person ever achieves greatness alone. All successful people know when to ask for guidance and support. All successful people know their role and have several experts guiding them and teaching the reality of what it truly takes to make their dreams come true. Years later, I’m back, showered, and ready to talk about the life’s BIGGEST little lessons I’ve learned to build success.
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