I wrote a memo last week about the failure of my first business; Books Talk Too. Before publishing that piece, I had a lot of anxiety around disclosing my failure and ultimately being judged.

I have learned that it is important to look at how we perceive and talk about failure. Reading a comment last week, I think moving away from the word failure and developing our resilience is much more important now than ever.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from that experience:

  1. Get several mentors or a good coach. This is important
  2. Surround yourself with people who understand and will encourage your ambition.
  3. Share the work and share the risk – learn to collaborate – I was not very good at this.
  4. Learn how to listen and don’t think you know everything. This reminds me of the African proverb – A wise man never knows all: only fools know everything.
  5. Put in systems and boundaries from day one.
  6. Get your idea stress-tested first – before you decide to launch. I loved the idea of my business and did not do enough research or listen to the advice of the executive I met in New York when she said, why are you launching it in the UK? It’s a much bigger market here in the US. She was correct; it proved to be very expensive to educate a new market.
  7. If you are afraid of marketing and ultimately rejection, you will have problems. It took me a while to learn that – no – is not personal.
  8. Donald Miller of Story brand says that your customer is the hero – not you. This is true as the only thing customers care about is how your brand can solve their problems.
  9. Find a copywriter who can write the story of your services skilfully – it will be a worthwhile investment.
  10. Ensure you have the finances in place, as it’s hard to build a business while worrying about money. I had the money for a year, but that eventually ran out.
  11. Believe in and value yourself. You are going to need it when times get tough.
  12. Sometimes, you have to give it a go rather than waiting for your ducks to line up.