That’s Just How It Works

Humans are wired for comfort. Almost everyone enjoys it when things in their life are predictable, when what’s going on around us follows a well-worn path. That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy the occasional surprise, but we’re quite content when our lives play out exactly like we expect. There’s comfort in familiarity. We know what’s going to happen next, it happens just like we were expecting, and all is right with the world.

jumping for joy over a great home inspection

Too bad that’s not what happens when we’re starting (or running) our small business.

We’ve all had it happen to us; probably more times than we care to remember. We get (what we think is) a great idea. We move to implement our wonderful new plan, certain that the results will be spectacular. We sit back, waiting for the money to start rolling in. And then, crickets. The needle doesn’t move, no one’s pushing a wheelbarrow full of cash in our direction, and the customers aren’t beating down our door to buy our product.

Our fool-proof idea didn’t work, and we’re left standing there wondering what the hell went wrong. We felt so certain that we had a great idea, but we’re left confused and demoralized.

So, what do we do now?

Each mistake teaches you something new…

Chris Bradford

Quite often, we’re in awe of our competitors. It seems like everything they try is a home run. We never see them falling flat on their face. They’re not the ones sitting here, frustrated by the lack of results from their latest marketing plan gone wrong.

How is it that my plans keep bombing while their’s just seem to work every time?

But we’re wrong. Our competitors are no different than we are; they have the same problems. They struggle with figuring out what new plans are going to work and which ones are going to flop. Just like us, their first-generation ideas have problems, and they have to revise them a few times before they start to bear fruit. None of our competitors simply come up with a new idea, implement it and everything amazingly starts working as intended. Well, there is that one guy who makes it work like that, but no one really likes him too much. Besides, he’s probably got lots of problems in his life and his wife’s about to leave him anyway… (Yeah, OK, I know I shouldn’t say things like that. I’m sorry. No, really, I am.)

The fact is that very few business owners capture lightning in a bottle. More often than not, it’s a long and drawn out process to figure out what’s going to work in our business. Knowing exactly what it is that will produce the results we’re looking for is frequently trial and error. Whether it’s a new marketing plan, reworking our inspection software or trying to find a new employee, things rarely go as planned.

It’s tough to face reality, but trying something new in our business is bound to be a stressful situation. We’re going to face hurdles; we’re going to suffer setbacks and we’re going to have utterly colossal failures.

crying over a bad home inspection report

The most important thing is that we remember that it’s all part of the process. For the vast majority of us, we’re not going to get it right the first time. We’re not going to sit down and write out the most amazing marketing plan that’s ever been committed to paper. We’re going to have to put out that first-generation product, knowing that there will be problems.

There’s never been an app released for your phone that was flawless when it was rolled out. No software company has ever created a program that was so perfect that updates will never be needed. No product has ever been created that hasn’t been changed, modified and upgraded. Next year’s model is always new and improved, better than before and the most advanced in history. And that’s usually because the first version of it sucked.

Knowing that our first effort is likely going to bomb shouldn’t keep us from making that first attempt anyway. It’s not going to be great; it’s likely to produce nothing but more work for us; it’s going to look like nothing but a big load of crap when we look back on it in the future. But that doesn’t mean that we should stop trying.

There are a lot of people who go into business for themselves. In the U.S. alone, over 600,000 new businesses start each year. Unfortunately, not many of them that go on to become successful; in fact, it’s quite a small percentage. But don’t let this information discourage you. On the contrary, the fact that there are some small business owners that eventually find success should be all the motivation we need.

Some people are successful in turning their small business venture into a lifelong career, earning enough money from their profession to support their family in the process. These are the people that we should study, these are the ones we should emulate. And, more often than not, these are the people who don’t give up when their ideas bomb right out of the gate. They back up, regroup, assess the situation and make changes on the fly to help their ideas become successful.

Don’t give up the fight. So what if it doesn’t work at first? We knew it probably wouldn’t, so tweak it and try again.

That’s just how it works. Get used to it. Keep going and prove them wrong.

If someone is better than you at something, it is likely that they have failed at it more times than you have.

Mark Manson

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector