roller coaster

Wannabe Entrepreneur – The Best Job in the World

Fail fast so you can succeed sooner.  

About 15 years ago I made the very first advertising sale for a brand new golf magazine dedicated to covering junior golfers in the Greater Vancouver area.  I can still remember the feeling of exhilaration combined with downright fear when the first advertiser wrote a check for $400.00 for a full page ad.  Wow!

I was exhilarated because someone believed in the magazine and scared because it meant I would have to deliver on the promises I made, which was a very hard thing to do because it was the inaugural issue.  I didn't have a previous issue to show him, the golf club repair guy purchased advertising based on the idea and vision I presented.

When the first issues were printed, I was so full of pride and accomplishment.  My Dad drove me to the print house in his van to pick them up and then we spent the day driving around the Vancouver area dropping off bundles of magazines at golf courses, driving ranges and golf pro shops.  If memory serves, I think I printed 500?

Looking back, the magazine wasn't all that great. The articles were too long, the cost to advertise barely covered the printing costs, the photographer wasn't using a digital camera so he didn't know if the pictures to accompany each article would turn out until they were developed.  The graphic design was amateurish and there wasn't even a website to accompany the print version.  The magazine ultimately died a very quick death.  

But I'm still so proud of that magazine.  Why?  Because it was all my idea.  

I was the writer who wrote the articles that were too long, I was the salesman who pounded the pavement and didn't charge enough for advertising because it felt weird to ask for money, I was the photographer who travelled to junior golf tournaments to capture images on my Pentax camera and then got them developed at the local drug store hoping there would be at least one good one, I was the graphic designer who had no clue how to do a magazine layout and my Dad and I were the distributors who spent a Sunday afternoon together dropping off the 14 page creation.  

And did I mention I did all this before I even had the internet at home?  I used to go to the local library or to my Mom's place to use her computer.  

Since Golf Scratch magazine crashed and burned, I've had plenty of other business ideas.  Some good, some bad and some that had really poor execution.  

I've got logoed t-shirts in my closet and t-shirt inventory still stored in my basement from an idea I had about 5 years ago that was so poorly executed I cringe at the thought of it.  

But lately I've started wearing those t-shirts again as a reminder to myself that ultimately it was a failed business idea, but it still gave me valuable experience on what to do the next time and the time after that.  There's nothing wrong with failure, but there IS something wrong with not even getting off your butt to try.  

roller coaster, entrepreneur

i've got the best family, i appreciate them hanging on during this ride!

I'll never give up trying.  I know I sometimes drive Randa crazy with my never-ending pursuits but I'm lucky to have a supportive wife who just wants me to be happy and do what I wanna do. She's the best partner I could ask for on this roller coaster ride of being a wannabe entrepreneur.  

In a few weeks I'm starting another new project.  I'll draw on the experiences from my previous failures and see what happens.  There's nothing quite like being a wannabe entrepreneur, it's exhilarating, scary, full of optimism, full of cynicism, full of nay-sayers and very stressful on everyone involved.  But despite all that it still gets me up at 4 am because I can't wait to get started!

"When I was growing up, my dad would encourage my brother and I to fail. We would be sitting at the dinner table and he would ask, 'So what did you guys fail at this week?' If we didn't have something to contribute, he would be disappointed. When I did fail at something, he'd high-five me. What I didn't realize at the time was that he was completely reframing my definition of failure at a young age. To me, failure means not trying; failure isn't the outcome. If I have to look at myself in the mirror and say, 'I didn't try that because I was scared,' that is failure."

Sara Blakely, Spanx founder

Husband | Daddy | Writer | DIY Wannabe