Not every idea is a winning idea, and taking on projects and launches that carry an unknown outcome is part of entrepreneurship. It’s in learning how to embrace failure and learn from your mistakes that you come out on top.
If you’re familiar with Entrepreneurs On Fire, then you already know about our wins. Since 2013 we’ve been generating over six-figures in monthly net revenue, and we continue to come out ahead of the curve with new and unique ways to serve our audience.
But what about the things that haven’t worked out?
How do we embrace failure and learn from our mistakes, and how does that provide certainty that we will succeed?
That’s what this post is all about: How to embrace failure and learn from your mistakes so that you are guaranteed wins in between.
If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost. ~ Zig Ziglar
Failures That Have Led to Success
In early 2013 John came up with the idea to launch a service called PodPlatform.
He was receiving a lot of emails and requests from Fire Nation about how to start a podcast.
The vision for PodPlatform was that podcasters would record their episode, upload it to PodPlatform, and then John would edit and upload the episode to Libsyn.
Easy service and a no brainer for all those individuals who had been reaching out to John about how to start a podcast, right?
PodPlatform failed, and here’s why
Without having one-on-one conversations with those who were reaching out, John didn’t truly understand the struggle they had.
They didn’t want someone else to upload their episodes for them – they didn’t even know how to record an episode to begin with.
Luckily John went back and had these one-on-one conversations, and that’s how he came to realize that his solution was all wrong.
Taking action led him to this discovery, and sometimes that’s how it’s going to go: you won’t know the true answer until you just go out and do it.
How did he embrace failure and learn from his mistake?
John embraced failure by recognizing and admitting that what he was offering wasn’t the right solution for the audience he was offering it to.
He sought to learn from his mistake by asking if he could talk to those who were reaching out to him for help, but who didn’t want PodPlatform.
The question he asked them: what’s your biggest struggle right now?
Then, he listened.
As a result, he learned what the actual struggle was: these individuals wanted to learn step-by-step how to create and launch a podcast.
Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday. ~ Wilma Rudolph
This called for a pivot.
Now that he knew PodPlatform wasn’t what his audience wanted, he could create something new.
That’s when he came up with the idea to create Podcasters’ Paradise, an online membership and community teaching individuals how to create, grow, and monetize their own podcast.
More on Podcasters’ Paradise in just a second.
Another failed launch: Fire UP
In late 2015 we teamed up with a long-time Fire Nation faithful and good friend to launch our first SaaS product: website conversion tools to help grow your business.
Think Optin Monster or HelloBar, but with our own unique spin on it.
We knew we were teaming up with the right person for the job: he’d successfully launched other SaaS products and had been growing his expertise in the area for years.
The name we decided on: Fire UP.
Our team spent months marketing it, trying to generate interest, and get beta testers using the software to help us improve it and eventually launch it.
After a year and not nearly enough interest to validate the amount of time, bandwidth, and energy put into it, we decided to shut it down.
Lesson learned from our failed SaaS project
This taught us a huge lesson, and it’s a lesson that has kept on giving ever since: SaaS is not a part of the type of business we want to run.
Even though we had one of the best teams possible to get this off the ground, I’m not sure that our hearts were ever actually in it to the extent required to make a project like this succeed.
Of course, we didn’t realize this at the time – otherwise we never would have done it.
So back to John’s idea for Podcasters’ Paradise…
Proof of concept
This time around, John was going to make absolutely sure Podcasters’ Paradise was something his audience wanted and needed.
So instead of spending months creating content outlines and investing money up front on a course platform, John hosted a proof of concept webinar.
John emailed everyone who had ever come to him asking for podcasting advice, and he invited them to a webinar on how to start a podcast.
The webinar lasted about an hour, and John walked through some super valuable content to help others with knowing where to start.
Then, he shared his idea for Podcasters’ Paradise.
Before we hosted that webinar John and I agreed that in order to move forward with our idea for Podcasters’ Paradise we would have to get at least 50 paying members.
To encourage early adopters, when John shared his idea for Podcasters’ Paradise he let his webinar attendees know they were the first to hear about this.
They were then invited to become founding members of the community, which not only gave them the best deal on joining we’d ever offer, but also a lifetime membership in exchange for their 1-time payment of $197.
That day we welcomed over 50 founding members to Podcasters’ Paradise: a membership and community that didn’t even exist yet.
Action creates answers
Without PodPlatform, we may have never come up with the idea to launch Podcasters’ Paradise. So even though PodPlatform was a “failure”, it led to one of our biggest and most successful ideas to date.
Same with Fire UP: we don’t have anything to “show for it” today, but what we do have is one of the most powerful lessons learned to date:
Getting clear about what type of business you want to run is critical to your success.
Podcasters’ Paradise launched in October 2013 and continues today, with over 3,500 members strong. And we absolutely love running a membership and community.
So next time you have an idea, or are brainstorming a new community, mastermind, service, or product, get it out to your audience as quickly as you possibly can.
Action will create the answers you’re looking for, because action will create conversations, feedback, and guidance that you’ll never find without just doing the thing.
And even if you do fail, it will mean you learning lessons that could open the doors to your biggest idea yet – or to show you exactly what you don’t want in your business.