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The Hidden Benefits of Business Failure: My Personal Experience Why failing miserably was the best thing that happened to my business

By Terry Rice Edited by Dan Bova

Lindsey Thoeng

I don't believe people when they say "I have no regrets."

I think what they mean to say is "I'm happy with where I'm at in life, and my experiences made me who I am."

But is it possible to be happy about going through bad experiences? It is once you learn how to turn setbacks into opportunities.

And fortunately, it's not too late for you to reframe your experiences - even the bad ones - into opportunities for growth. I'll share a few examples from my own life and how you can apply the lessons learned as well.

The missed funeral

When I first moved to Brooklyn I only had one relative here, my dad's uncle. We weren't super close but I'd stop by to visit him occasionally.

He passed away six years ago and I was unable to attend his funeral, even though it took place here in Brooklyn.

Why? Because I was teaching a one-week Digital Marketing course on behalf of a company I partnered with.

Not only did that course pay me $8k per week, but the students would often hire me for independent consulting as well. I was afraid of attending the funeral because I knew missing a day would seriously disrupt the class I was teaching and the company would need to find a replacement at the last minute.

At the time, teaching that course brought in over $100k per year so I was afraid of getting permanently replaced.

I felt guilty for missing his funeral, but I was also angry at myself for being so vulnerable and desperate. I couldn't believe that one opportunity had so much power over my time and financial security.

That frustration pushed me to make a bold decision, I gave up that $100k per year position. Instead, I learned how to make money and land clients through speaking, networking and content creation.

Was it harder? Yes, at first. But I had much more freedom and picked up lessons that I could share with other emerging entrepreneurs. And as you may have noticed, I no longer offer Digital Marketing services. Instead, I help people overcome setbacks, embrace opportunities and perform at their highest level.

None of this would have been possible if the sting of missing my uncle's funeral didn't push my career in a different direction.

Lesson learned: You need to have multiple revenue sources. Don't rely too heavily on one client or revenue stream. There's a freedom that comes with diversifying.

The missed graduation

My son, Trevor, graduated from preschool and his teachers organized an event to celebrate. I attended, watched his performance, but had to leave a bit early.

Why? Because I had to take a sales call.

This is a tough situation for any parent to be in. You want to spend time with your child, but you also need to work so you can provide for your child. In this case I tried to do both so I rushed home to take the call.

The person I talked to was nice, but they weren't even halfway serious about working with me. About two minutes into the call I could tell they were just trying to get free advice.

Again, I felt guilty for missing part of my son's celebration, but I was also mad at myself for being on a sales call in the first place.

Here's why. I don't like taking sales calls with people who just want to pick my brain, I like helping people who are ready to put in the work needed to level up.

That's when I decided to hire Shandel Shand to take all my sales calls going forward. Based on your feedback, she's amazing. And based on the results she's delivered, it was one of the best business decisions I've ever made.

I can now spend more time with my family while still supporting entrepreneurs who are committed to partnering with me and growing their business.

Lesson learned: You can't do it all on your own. Outsource, automate or eliminate tasks that aren't aligned with your zone of genius. You'll make more money and have more time for the people and experiences that matter most.

The missed opportunity

A few years ago I was delivering a keynote at Amazon here in New York City. About 500 people attended, but two of them stood out to me in particular.

One of the attendees brought her child, the kid was about three years old. Super cute, but super loud too. During my presentation the child was constantly giggling, screaming and sniffling.

Eventually, the woman and her child left. The majority of attendees were relieved, but I felt regret.

Reason being. I have a bunch of kids too! I know how hard it is when you're trying to do something for yourself and take care of your kid. Remember? I just talked about this during my son's graduation story.

And I also know saying "Shhhh" doesn't seem to quiet them down as much as you might hope. So instead of ignoring the noisy kid, I should have acknowledged them both. I should have said I'm glad you choose to advance your business AND be with your kid as opposed to choosing between the two.

Tough experience, but I learned from my mistake. Now when I'm on stage I consistently interact with the crowd. And this audience engagement has led to me landing even more paid speaking gigs.

But I took it a step further during a recent event. Instead of just ending with a Q&A session I brought people on stage for live coaching. The result? Attendees paid me on the spot for consulting since they knew I could help with their specific needs, I wasn't just reading off my slides.

Lesson learned: People give you opportunities because they feel connected to you. So don't get so caught up communicating with your audience that you forget to connect. Consistently engage with them on social media, have ad hoc conversations and support their work as well.

Next steps:

Ready to discover more tips and tools to help you overcome setbacks, seize opportunities and perform at your highest level? Sign up for my free video course, The High-Performance Playbook.

Designed explicitly for entrepreneurs and high-performing professionals like you, this course gives you the tactics and routines needed to achieve relentless growth, peak efficiency, and sustainable fulfillment. You can enroll for free and start your journey today.

Terry Rice

Entrepreneur Staff

Business Development Expert-in-Residence

Terry Rice is the Business Development Expert-in-Residence at Entrepreneur and Managing Director of Growth & Partnerships at Good People Digital; an agency that provides marketing and monetization solutions for entrepreneurs. He writes a newsletter about how to build your business and personal resilience and personal brand in just 5 minutes per week and created a revenue optimization checklist to help you multiply your income potential. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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