For those who don’t me very well, besides my new Copywriting business (aka this one with the new name Web Copy Diva), I also run two others.
One is a new online membership platform for mums returning to horse riding after kids. It’s a bit of a passion project and slowly growing.
The main one however is an online horse store. Or at least that’s how it started – and that’s the way it will be again very soon.
You see right now, I am coming off the back of a business failure. After 6-7 years of operating our online horse store part time around other work, my husband and I came up with a daring plan several years ago. To open up a physical shop premises in our local country town – and to go into the business full time.
It was supposed to set our young family up for a lifetime of success. Yet instead, it has drained our energy, our confidence and our finances.
Two years of blood, sweat, tears and working 6 – 7 days a week has left us here. With me sitting alone in our store, as we bide our time to close the doors, with a community who appears to have abandoned us and years of hard work seemingly down the drain.
Yet of course it hasn’t all been for nothing.
We’re currently waiting on the sale of our physical premises. Once that goes through, our financial situation will end up quite healthy. From that perspective, our exit plan has worked. Our physical investment will pay off with its increase in value. Even though we had hoped to not end up here.
And the things we have learnt throughout this process have been incredibly invaluable.
We now know that we don’t wish to be tied down to a physical, product-based business. We now know that we aren’t suited to retail. We now know that we, as a young family, require more freedom.
And most of all – that having the lifestyle and the fun that we so richly deserve – is actually possible, just in different ways to how we originally imagined.
We’ve learnt that customer loyalty is fairly non-existent, particularly in country towns where larger stores are spreading out closer, and closer.
We’ve learnt that local sponsorship arrangements rarely pay off (at least around here).
We’ve gained friendships that have held true through thick and thin – yet others who we connected with have sadly vanished.
We’ve learnt not to sacrifice ourselves in business – because consumers will not necessarily repay your efforts to please them, with their continued support.
As a retail store owner – I’ve copped my fair share of disgruntled customers, who no matter how hard I’ve tried – have always wanted the one thing we don’t have. They have often treated me with utter disdain – and its somehow as if we’ve personally wronged them – by not magically guessing their every want and need, at every exact time.
(And then when you do get the products they want in – they either never return to get it or complain that our price is too high by a single $1).
Whilst I know we haven’t done a perfect job – we’ve always tried our best. Tried to order in products. Tried to keep our prices competitive with our larger city competitors.
I absolutely hate to sound so negative or to blame our customers – that’s certainly not my intention. I don’t want to come off as bitter and twisted. We’ve had lots of lovely supporters who we greatly appreciate and thank. But in our shoes right now – it’s really hard not to be that little bit jaded.
But we’ve learnt that its simply human nature and consumer behaviour these days, combined with a little bad luck and a bunch of our own naive mistakes.
Despite how it might seem, I totally blame myself. I was at the helm, and I couldn’t make it work.
I’ve faced that fact. Yet now it’s time to let it all go…
So now, as I sit here, on a Saturday in an empty shop (when I’d prefer to be home with my husband and young kids), watching cars streaming past me on the highway outside, that never stop in – I write.
For it’s my writing that’s always been my passion. My outlet. My creativity. Besides my beloved horses, writing is my number one success.
So here I am. The Web Copy Diva. Looking forward to creating a thriving business from my passion – that provides me and my young family with the true flexibility we seek.
My kids are 6 and 3. They’ve spent more weekends stuck in this shop, bored silly, than I can count or can bare to remember. I often breastfed my daughter behind the counter in the early days whilst trying to pretend I wasn’t(!). I tried desperately to entertain my exhausted kids and keep them quiet whilst customers browsed the store so they could have the best shopping experience possible. The kids coped with these routines, but it soon wore thin for all of us.
My 6 year old son simply wants to go to the playcentre in town once again like we did when he was smaller. My crazy 3 year old daughter simply wants to go to our local country pub more often for dinner :p
They both wish to visit the beach, spend time with their cousins and grandparents and do all the normal things, most normal families do.
And guess what? We’re so going to be doing all of that – and so much more!
These shop doors will close in the coming weeks, and we’ll finally be free. Free to move on and create the life we’ve really wanted all along.
Free to be just US at long last.
So if you too are coming off the back of a business ‘failure,’ or simply navigating the murky waters of starting something new and struggling…I know just how you feel. This business and entrepreneur world is really tricky, and it can be super lonely.
Yet I do still firmly believe that it often pays off in the end.
Even when the end is very different to what you imagined.
And sometimes a failure – whilst difficult to deal with at first – ends up putting you on a far better path.
One that really lights you up and utilises your skills.
So try to remember that failure really doesn’t exist. It’s just feedback, a lesson to learn, and a chance to pivot and change direction.
And that for every 100 ‘failures’ it can be the 101st thing that finally succeeds.
Who knows, maybe your failure will become your greatest legacy.
At least we were brave enough to give it a red hot go. Stepping up and trying is far better than not and wishing we had…
So now my zone of genius is helping YOU see the GOLD in what you’re going through.
And crafting your unique story which will undoubtedly lead to your inevitable success…
Have you learnt something from ‘failure’?
Sarah xoxoxox
Web Copy Diva