Location of writing: Somehow, I am back up in the north of Spain in lovely San Sebastian. My Portugal travels lasted a month or so, and I could have easily stayed longer if time wasn’t a thing.
From Lagos I headed briefly into the south of Spain to the famous student town of Granada, where I had been planning on visiting for quite a while. Beautiful place, lots to do, plenty of nice cafes to work from and somewhere I really wish I could have spent more time.
From there, made some quick plans and headed back to a good friend’s welcoming shelter here in San Seb.
Now is a good time to actually try and keep my Spanish language ‘progress’ going – the housemates here are very patient!
Travel Plans this week: Due to the unexpected 12 hour bus trip back north, I have very little plans for the coming two weeks! I will be making the most of the first big swell hitting the coast, and also making the most of the student party nights in San Sebastian – Olé!
Feel free to check out new products on site while you’re here! Charlie Spike.
The Elephant In The Room: Did I succeed on my initial 90-day-profit challenge?
So, the big question – I set out on this blog with a primary challenge in mind: Start a brand new business, from nothing, with nothing, while travelling and enjoying my time to the fullest, and have that business generate profit within 90 days of commencing the start up phase. Sure, there were secondary goals (start a business in general, make sales, have people read and appreciate the blog), but the goals revolved around a sustainable business.
I did succeed in creating Charlie Spike Store and making a bunch of sales, but did I reach the ultimate time measured goal?
Was the goal ambitious?
I guess so – 90 days is not long when busy travelling.
No such thing.
Did I succeed…?
I could very easily have shifted a few figures, wrote off a few ‘expenses’ as personal and convinced my self I did succeed, but what is the point?
Failure is the most important lesson in life, whether in relationships, business or any simple endeavour.
Failure helps you to understand who you are, how you act, why you may avoid people, activities or conversations and ultimately, helps you to keep moving forward instead of running blindly into the forrest.
Don’t get me wrong – failure hurts. A lot. But if it didn’t, then chances are it wouldn’t be so useful.
Tim Ferris talks a lot about ‘failure’ in life in his book Tools Of Titans and he is able to pull out some pretty interesting concepts. Most entrepreneurs and interviewees in the book define failure as the critical ingredient to success. Personally, I agree.
I think each failure can be seen as as a new opportunity, which would not have appeared without the failure closing the door in the first place. Sometimes you need to hit a closed door to realise you were wrong in running towards it the whole time.
Each door that closes, forces you to look for another to open. Don’t sit at the closed door and wish it will magically open itself. Assess why it closed, and what other options exist. Some doors may be worth persisting at, others, it may be best to move on.
It is definetely worthwhile considering the endless list of success stories that all started with a ‘failure’. To name just a few:
- Walt Disney was told he lacked ‘”creativity and interesting ideas” and was fired from his job at a newspaper. He then persisted and started his own animation company, which then was also forced to close. Rather than giving up, he persisted, faced ongoing criticism, and finally skyrocketed into the most memorable name in animation history.
- Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest, and most successful women in the world – not to mention her huge impact helping others. In addition to an abusive childhood, she was fired from her job as a television reporter simply because she was “unfit for TV”.
- Thomas Edison was told he was “too stupid to learn anything”. He was fired from multiple jobs. It took 1,000 ‘failures’ trying to invent the lightbulb, until, after he learnt from each of these failures, he succeeded.
- J.K. Rowling was broke, severely depressed, and depending solely on welfare payments – 5 years later she became one of the most successful woman in the planet.
- Tim Ferris, who is a huge personal mentor of mine, explains his ‘failure’ story in an extremely personal way in his book Tools Of Titans. He provides details of how at 24 years old, he hit a wall. He lost all motivation. He saw himself as a failure, despite all of his successes, and saw suicide as the only ‘door’ left open. Through a lucky intervention, treating his own mental health as a serious issue, and confiding in those around him, he was able to become the inspirational personal figure and spearheading entrepreneur and author that he is today. Check out a short re-cap on the personal story here (although I still definetely recommend the entire book).
In general, I also think that if you are not failing at anything, then you are probably living to deep in the ‘safe zone’, and in my opinion, that can be a pretty boring way to live.
Why did the 90 day challenge fail?
Failure is not really useful unless you take some time to reflect on it.
Why didn’t the business continue to be profitable after recouping its start up costs?
Sure, it has made back the initial expenditures of the set-up, but for some reason, the profit and loss statement shows it is still a few hundred dollars in the negative as it continues to make sales.
I have spent some time and narrowed the reasons down to the following:
- I was too generous with discounts during the launch. Simple and silly errors in pricing, and offering a too higher chance of receiving discounts resulted in too many sales with 20-50% off. When I am running on profit margins of 40-50% max, and spending money on acquiring each sale, this is just not feasible.
- I spent too much money on a Facebook Advertising campaign which did not produce the return on investment needed. This was pure laziness. I set up a campaign, let it run, and didn’t come back and assess it regularly. I was surfing, socialising, and honestly just ignorantly hoping it would improve itself. I haven’t been active enough in the monitoring simply due to slumps in motivation, again resulting from a number of things. In retrospect I should have paused it the minute it started to turn into a money drainer, and waited until I had the time to start again. Lesson learned.
- Sales have been slower than hoped – need to keep on keeping on!
Despite this, apart from these initial losses, the business is profitable on a day-by-day basis, and I just need to earn back those mistakes. Woopah, small win – deserves a beer!
A new favourite quote to finish on – read it slowly…
I thought I’d finish on a favourite quote of mine by Author Gregory Roberts, conveniently revolving around the failure concept. It is deep, real deep, but it is bloody awesome. It is written in the context of life, relationships and mistakes in general. Read it a couple of times, enjoy:
The cloak of the past is cut from patches of feeling, and sewn with rebus threads. Most of the time, the best we can do it wrap it around ourselves for comfort or drag it behind us as we struggle to go on. But everything has its cause and its meaning. Every life, every love, every action and feeling and thought has its reason and significance: its beginning, and the part it plays in the end.
Sometimes, we do see. Sometimes, we see the past so clearly, and read the legend of its parts with such acuity, that every stitch of time reveals its purpose, and a kind of message is enfolded in it. Nothing in any life, no matter how well or poorly lived, is wiser than failure or clearer than sorrow.
And in the tiny, precious wisdom that they give us, even those dread and hated enemies, suffering and failure, have their reason and their right to be.