In 1997 I was a newbie entrepreneur producing customized skin care it was easy for me to get caught in the trap of trying to keep up with the big cosmetic houses. In order for me to compete, I felt that I had to emulate them in every way. I was also running at breakneck speed desperately trying to keep pace with what the experts predicted to be the next emerging industry trend.
I locked into a self-induced battle between what I was wanting and what market research told me I must do. Using this research I chose to take a large loan out and spend thousands of dollars on graphic design and product packaging. When I opened my first delivery of my new packaging all I could say was wow! I was ecstatic, because now I felt like I looked like one of the major players in the industry. How wrong I was. I quickly realized I was in trouble, because I had lost my way.
My core customer base, who had been my entrepreneurial guinea pigs, if you will, didn’t respond to the packaging like I thought they would. When asked their opinion, one woman tore the packaging off of the jar and tossed it into the garbage saying, “I don’t care about that. Does the product work!?” I literally couldn’t draw breath into my lungs, because in that moment, I knew it was over. I had a flash of insight that told me this, all that you are doing HASN’T WORKED. Within 24 months everything started crashing and burning. Suppliers closed their doors with little or no notice. The bottle company decided that they were only going to sell the glass jars and bottles I used in pallets of 10,000…and you couldn’t mix and match. I had six main products in my line along with five others. That would mean purchasing one hundred and ten thousand bottles along with caps and pumps. Never mind the cost, where would I store all of this stuff how would I be able to move the pallets?
Nearly $10,000 in I had a website that was barely functional and a webmaster that was…MIA and DOA when he was present. The office space that I was renting sold the building and the new owners were horrendous. The bathrooms didn’t work nor were they cleaned on a regular basis; they didn’t pick up trash for days and all the garbage can where over flowing. The crowning glory was there was no pest control. It was awful. I had to move. I no longer felt safe there and didn’t want my clients in that environment. To add insult to injury all my new packaging, along with my letterhead business cards had just been printed with that address.
Everything that was happening indicated that I had gone in the wrong direction, yet I wouldn’t let go. I refused to let go. I was pouring more money into this failing scheme, because I was going to make it work. And of course it didn’t.
One night I was sitting on the edge of my bed and I burst into tears. I cried hard and long, because I knew it was over. I knew what I had to do. And like most things in my life, when I’m clear I’m resolute and swift to act. I closed it down.
I chose to reconnect with my vision in an authentic way. You want to know what the irony is? Producing a skincare line had never been a part of my authentic vision. Someone had suggested in passing it and I thought it might be a good idea because of my background. There was no real passion behind it, only an interest. I owned my mistakes, all of them; including failing at business 101. Don’t create a business in something you are not passionate about. I owned my failure to develop MY vision…but, like phoenix rising out of the hot ashes, I went on to succeed. How?
- By choosing not to lose sight of my vision ever again.
- I made the conscious choice NEVER to be in competition with anyone again.
- I choose only to be in passionate “CREATION.”
Experts will say that you need to be in competition with your competitors in order to be a success. I totally disagree. Knowing what your industry is doing is one thing. Competing for the space that they already occupy is another. No two things and occupy the same space. That’s God’s Law, a Universal Law that science has proven. Knowing what your industry is doing can assist you in your creativity and decision making process. Competing with others in your industry means that your creativity is being spent on emulating what someone has already done, instead of creating something that others want to emulate.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy and you will be faced with many challenges, but what will make you a success is if you use the clarity of your vision like a light house or beacon. While on your journey to success, you may experience rough terrain, however, you will never lose your way as long as you aim for your light house.
Dr. Wendy Dearborne is a choice expert and coach. Contact Dr. Wendy Dearborne via email firstname.lastname@example.org