WHAT TO DO WHEN THINGS DON'T GO AS PLANNED... OR AT ALL.
Social media shows us a world of successes, wins, accomplishments, achievements, celebrations, and not-at-all humble brags.
We get a lot of exposure to the highlight reels.
What it doesn’t always show us is what happens when when things in business flop, when we make mistakes, fail to launch or go anywhere at all.
When things don’t go as we hoped or planned, how can we move forward to turn our failure into proactive steps forward and fail better next time around?
This blog will walk you through four steps you can walk yourself through if you’ve experienced/are experiencing the feelings that come with a failure to launch.
As much as we may enjoy pretending it doesn’t exist, failure IS an option!
It happens to all of us in all sorts of ways. I personally think it’s dangerous not to acknowledge that it exists and to try to sugarcoat it or dress it up as something else (ie. feedback, lessons, opportunities) because while YES, it can be those things eventually, at first it’s just a big fat whopping realization that things didn’t go the way you’d hoped or planned.
People fail. Launches fail. The best-laid plans (trust me on this one) fail. Programs and strategies. They fail! Don’t believe me? See the definition of failure below.
An important note – I’m not saying that WE are the failures when these things happen, I’m saying an action we took, or the system, or the thing failed.
Definition of Failure – What is Failure?
ORIGIN – Mid 17th century (originally as failer, in the senses ‘non-occurrence’ and ‘cessation of supply’)
Failure is defined as:
- Lack of success.
- The omission of expected or required action.
- A lack or deficiency of a desirable quality.
- The act or state of not functioning.
- A sudden cessation of power.
- The collapse of a business.
Whenever you’re trying and launching into new things in life and business, you’re bound to eventually, fail.
My Recent Failure to Launch Story
September 2023 was the launch of the fourth cozy cohort of my Marketing Momentum Lab. This is a small group of connected, inspired, excited entrepreneurs ready to take action and gain traction in their marketing and I had a great track record with results people get from the program as well as it filling each time.
I launched it in July 2023… and no one signed up. I had people interested, but when the countdown was on… the sunshine and beaches won out over a group program in front of their computers.
I said to myself, “No worries! It’s Summer! I want to enjoy summer too,” and decided to launch it again, this time in September. Guess what? No one signed up.
This time around, everyone interested was asking me what the dates were for NOVEMBER, but September? Crickets.
My goal, my expectation, my desired outcome for when I launch the Marketing Momentum Lab is a group of 4-6 people per cohort.
Did I achieve my goal? No.
Did I fail in reaching my desired outcome? Yes.
Was this a failure to launch? Yes.
Was this time THE MOST painful out of the two because of how consistently and loud I was in sharing it? YES.
Was this the first time I’ve ever experienced ZERO people signing up for something? Yes.
0, 100, 6,000 failure comes in all shapes and sizes in our business:
- Events and workshops not filling up
- Failed product and program launches
- People failing us either in follow through
- Individuals failing us in who we thought they were or with a hurtful action
- Systems failing (ie. your calendar doesn’t sync and you double-book yourself)
- Content fail us.
- Social media platforms fail us.
- Maybe you’ve failed in a project or to get your clients results
- Maybe something’s failed YOU to get promised results
- And sometimes ideas you set into motion just simply flop.
If we’re trying new things, we’re going to eventually make a mistake and fail. And that’s where I want to start in processing it.
Four Steps for Failing Better
Step One) Feel Your Feelings.
I sulked about my failure for a solid day, maybe two, and let myself feel cruddy about myself. I felt like I was a failure (not truth) and was a little angry and felt rejected. I was also frustrated and felt entirely silly and began doubting myself.
“What am I even doing!?”
If this is something you really wanted and you didn’t get it, you may even try to convince yourself you didn’t want it in the first place! But what if you just start by admitting to yourself that you DID want it!? That it DID matter to you?
Failure brings up a lot of stuff (sometimes even relief!) and I think it’s important to acknowledge it. If you just bottle it up or try to pretend it’s not a failure, and skip straight to the unicorns and butterflies – what you learned from it, you may just be delaying these feelings down the road.
Call it what it is. A failed experiment.
Step Two) Congratulate Yourself.
When you’re done feeling your feelings, it’s time to high-five yourself! You took a courageous step and most people don’t even make it that far!
Most people just leave all those ideas, dreams, hopes, and goals sitting in their notebooks and don’t try, because they’re too afraid to fail. YOU, though, you went for it. And knowing you, you went all in.
So HIGH FIVE TO YOU and TO ME for going for it and putting ourselves and our skillsets out there!
Step Three) Internal and External Review
It’s time to take an honest review of both the internal and external factors that impacted your success.
There’s no “blame” here, this is an assessment. Reviewing the data if you will.
Internal factors: Were you too busy to consistently share about it? Did you even share about it at all? Did it feel aligned for you? Was it actually in your lane? How was the messaging and was it clear? Did you actually even want it? Do you feel bad/guilty taking money from people? Do you feel like you’re providing value and this is worth it?
List it all out. What really happened here on your side of the fence?
When I looked at this, I realized that in my case:
- I can be clearer in my messaging
- My business is busy September – October, and I think I was subconsciously NERVOUS I’d be too busy to give this my all
External factors: Is your timing terrible calendar-wise for your target market? Does social media hide all of your posts? How’s the economy overall? Do you have a big enough reach/audience? If you sell products, are you dependent on suppliers? Are your competitors running something similar? Are there political things happening that affect your people?
When I look at the external factors, I realized:
- September / October isn’t just not a good time for me, everyone is busy and signing up for SO much stuff their heads are spinning. And tons of people launching things have told me recently how their not filling seats like they used to.
- The economy is freaking some people out right now
- Social media hates me and never shows anyone my business-related posts.
Sit down and take stock, take responsibility for what’s yours, and lay to rest what’s out of your control. And then you’ll have the information you need to head to step four.
Step Four) Move Forward
You want to look at everything you felt, reviewed – both internally and externally – and determine how you want to move forward. What decision will you make from here? It could look like:
- Never trying to launch that program again
- Waiting until a later time to try again
- Refining things and trying it again immediately
- Going about it in an entirely different way – turning it into something else, like maybe it becomes a 1:1 offering or a mini course or a book
- Try something else entirely and take action on a NEW idea
- Collaborate with someone else and get others in on your efforts
- Something not on this list that’s right for you!
I took two actions:
a) I chose to yes, do it again in November at a very special price. I worked on my messaging a bit. I also know the November time frame is good for me as I have many speaking engagements in October and can share about this as a next step for people I connect with.
b) I had a separate offering I was planning to launch in 2024… which this information has caused me to reconsider and reenvision it. This failure to launch caused me to take a pause and get clear on what I really want for this other thing. In my book, that’s a WIN.
For When it Happens to You…
Next time you experience a failure to launch, walk yourself through these four steps to help yourself move forward with a realistic and clear perspective.
When we approach failure in a different way, fully embrace it, and acknowledge it for what it is, we can take it as an opportunity to move forward for growth.
Failure Resources (who knew there was such a thing!?)
She Built This interview with Farnoosh Torabi of the SO Money Podcast and author of A Healthy State of Panic. We discuss why a fear of failure is to be listened to and can be helpful.
Content with Character Episode: What to Do When Things Fail