I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.Edison
OK – so this post isn’t titled 10,000 ways to fail that’d be a REALLY long post. Instead I wanted to write about just 9 ways to fail. Got a coffee? Buckled in? OK here we go.
1. Never get started
This is always the first thing on my list. Just never getting started. You have an idea but it’s finding the time to bring it to life. The time to get started is now but carving out the time to spend on your idea – that’s something else entirely.
Other blockers could be perfectionism. You need your product to be perfect. “The lighting on my video isn’t amazing, I’ve got ghost face” or “I’m not pretty enough for video”. Sound familiar? These fears are all in your head. It’s OK for the v1.0 not to be perfect.
If it’s a software product – then how familiar is the thought “I’ll just squeeze these extra features in before launch”? Then 6 months later you’re still building without any audience to show for it. Start now, launch sooner than you’d think.
2. Don’t listen to feedback
Once your idea is out there, you’ll start getting feedback. Comments on articles, comments on videos or reviews and feedback on your product. These are valuable pieces of advice that you should take on board.
Stubbornness is one of my weaknesses. It’s hard to take negative feedback on board but, just like in 6 thinking hats it’s good to think from the other side, listen to that feedback and mould your idea or product based on what people are saying.
Get a lot of questions about your setup? Then write a blog post covering it and share it.
3. Try to do too much
Website, Newsletter, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram, Customer support, marketing, content creation, content editing. Oh. My. God.
If you’re just getting started then trying to do it all can quickly lead to overwhelm. Focus on one thing at a time. If writing content is hard for you, then focus on that – start a blog, write about your journey and auto-share it to Socials.
Then as you get more comfortable, you can expand to other areas. There’s plenty of successful people who don’t use all the channels, so just because you see that post about “something going viral on TikTok” it doesn’t mean you have to start doing short video dances while holding your product.
4. Don’t learn from others
Failory is an interesting idea for a site and a place I’ll casually spend some time. Recognising what’s not working and changing what you’re doing is a key skill to have when working on your idea.
If you make the same mistakes others have already done, then that’s a sure way to fail.
5. Never iterate.
Your idea is great. No one can tell you different and you’ll never pivot or change your offering. You can waste years by continuing down a path where you’ve not got product market fit.
It’s worth remembering the product adoption curve though – and there’s no timescale on the x-axis because there’s no set time for hitting each stage. Are you still growing? Are you still getting feedback that your product or idea is a good one?
Iterating should be done often. Tweak that UI, focus on a particular niche for a little while – whereas full pivots should only be done when you’re sure you’re on the wrong path and there’s a bigger opportunity from a pivot (AirBnB started out renting air mattresses, then pivoted).
6. Spend too much too soon.
Your idea is out there, you’ve been doing it for a week now, but you’re not seeing any customers. Not seeing any visitors or subscribers. What are you spending all the effort for?
I know. I’ll chuck some $$ at Google, Promote some tweets or boost some Facebook posts. It’s tempting I know. It’s a quick way to run out of money without seeing any return. Give the organic build up of an audience time to grow first and then, if you’re getting social proof on your idea (sign ups, even purchases) then you can start building lookalike audiences and marketing to a wider reach.
7. Don’t take risks.
The ultimate risk is quitting your “job”. If your job is one that doesn’t come with flexibility (I’m talking about serving at a counter, or being a security guard at a mall) then the ultimate risk could be to quit your job and focus on creating content online.
It’s a heck of a risk and not one to be taken lightly and it’s not something I ever plan to do again myself.
There’s other risks you could take though which aren’t as extreme as quitting your job:-
- Reach out to that content creator you admire.
- Start creating that content on a new channel (dance on TikTok).
- Get that website started that you’ve always wanted (it’s free and easy).
Start taking risks. It’s one of the only ways not to fail.
8. Stay in your comfort zone.
Starting something new is scary. Recording a YouTube video can be scary if you want to start out as a YouTuber (this tweet from Nathan made me chuckle)
Thanks Nathan for adding a bit of humour to my day. Getting out of your comfort zone is certainly something that’s worth doing. It’s not just something for your idea, it applies to all sorts of areas:-
- Get out and start moving more.
- Take that cookery class you’ve always wanted to do.
- Learn to play the Piano (or Guitar) – unless you’ve sausage fingers like me.
9. Never reach out for help.
There’s literally millions of people doing what you’ve done (or at least a variant of it) and are further along their journeys and may have advice to share. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
That could be an ask for them to appear on your YouTube channel for a chat, or your podcast. It could be a guest post, or even just a twitter DM conversation. Just because YOU started your idea, doesn’t mean you have to walk the path alone.
Are you just getting started, then I can probably help and I’m more than willing to have a chat with anyone. Just let me know in the comments below.