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If they’d given up when they got knocked down, these top business founders and Advisors in The Oracles wouldn’t be the success stories they are today. Here, they share what they learned and explain how failure helped make them better.
1. I learned to choose a job I love.
Early in my career, I started a business valuing other businesses. I was only in it for the money. I had no experience and didn’t enjoy the work, but I knew someone making a lot of money this way. I lost thousands on that business, but I learned three lessons that have helped me build over two dozen successful companies since then.
First, you have to love what you do; otherwise you won’t dedicate the time and effort necessary to succeed. When things didn’t work out quickly, I wasn’t willing to go the distance. Second, don’t spend money getting ready to be in business. Your first objective should be making a profit. I invested in a brochure and business cards when I should have focused on getting my first sale. Finally, make a specific offer and ask your audience to take a specific action. Experts told me to focus my ads on building awareness instead, but I spent $2,000 without a single bite. —Roland Frasier, principal of 30 businesses, including War Room Mastermind and Traffic & Conversion Summit; host of the “Business Lunch” podcast; connect with Roland on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram
2. I learned to be persistent.
I’ve met so many great leaders, and I think what all of them have in common is that they’re not afraid to go for exactly what they want — even if they fail. Bluemercury almost ran out of money in our first six months of business. We pushed through, pivoted our business model from e-commerce to retail storefronts, and steadily expanded from one store in Washington, D.C., to almost 200 stores across the U.S.
For me, nothing has been easy. I’ve always had to hustle. I’ve always been an aggressive leader and have never been afraid to try something, even if I had the potential to fail. You have to be brave enough to go for what you want and be persistent, even if you get knocked down along the way. —Marla Beck, co-founder and CEO of Bluemercury, which was acquired by Macy’s for $210 million; creator of M-61 Skincare and Lune+Aster cosmetics
3. I learned the importance of setting goals.
My confidence was high when I started my first business, a real estate agency, but I still had a lot to learn. After several months, I started to struggle and had to borrow money to cover my expenses. When I eventually declared bankruptcy and closed the agency, I reflected on the decisions that led me there. My first mistake was acquiring a big office in a remote part of town where no clients would visit, instead of focusing on getting clients first. Most importantly, I stopped setting goals for myself.
Failure hardens your spirit and teaches you lessons. Success comes when you soften and apply the lessons. I set new goals and started to visualize and meditate again. Before long, I had a solid base of buyers and investors. Crises enter our lives because we lose focus and inner confidence. Instead of looking inward, we often look for external verification that everything will be all right. This creates additional stress and anxiety that only causes us to lose touch with what we want and confidence in our ability to obtain it. —Andres Pira, award-winning real estate tycoon, founder and CEO of Blue Horizon Developments, and ForbesBooks author of “Homeless to Billionaire: The 18 Principles of Wealth Attraction and Creating Unlimited Opportunity” (available on Amazon as hardcover, Kindle, and audiobook); download a FREE chapter at AndresPira.com; follow Andres on Facebook and Instagram
4. I learned to not let investors control my destiny.
My first business was very successful. I raised over $35 million in private equity, listed it publicly, and hired over 350 employees. Then one day, the private equity group decided to sell the company. They didn’t care how hard I’d worked for seven years to build it. When I refused, they replaced me with a new CEO. It was devastating and made me question everything. I learned that when you use others’ money, they call the shots. It wasn’t actually my business. I vowed to never let someone else control my destiny again.
I decided to build a new company — this time, without raising a penny or giving up any control. Instead, I built Audigy Group with a shared ownership and shared value model. In 12 years I never borrowed a dime, instead using cash flow to fund our growth and giving non-voting shares to our loyal customers. In 2016, we sold the company for $151 million. Losing my first business was agonizing, but it inspired me to build my next business with a system where everyone wins together.
—Brandon Dawson, serial entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Cardone Ventures; founder and CEO of Audigy; host of “The B Dawson Show” podcast; connect with Brandon on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
5. I learned that not every great idea will be successful.
Earlier in my career, I built software for the real estate industry. My business failed, but I took a lot from it. I learned that just because an idea seems like a no-brainer doesn’t mean the market will agree.
You should have an obsessive expectation to win whenever you apply yourself to something. But if you do fail, like everyone has in the past and will in the future, use the opportunity to change your relationship with failure, which is often misguided. I even developed a step-by-step framework to ensure I’m maximizing the value of my failures. For example, I give myself at least three days before I debrief and try to understand why the failure happened. When the emotional defeat has passed, you’re more clear-minded and logical in your reflection. —Michel Falcon, entrepreneur and keynote speaker with expertise in customer experience, company culture, and employee engagement; has worked with brands such as McDonald’s Canada, Electronic Arts, and Lush Cosmetics; author of “People-First Culture”; connect with Michel on LinkedIn to get a copy of his failure framework, or follow him on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook
6. I learned to look at failure as feedback.
When I tried to give new agency owners access to the best technology, I thought the technology would sell itself; but I was wrong. It was painful to watch our students separate into two extreme groups. Some grew seven-figure agencies, while others stayed frozen with only one or two clients. We reviewed all the success stories — and more importantly, the unsuccessful ones — to identify what we needed to change.
Fast forward to today, and we have one of the most comprehensive agency training programs on the market. Our agency partners can spend their time closing sales while we automate or outsource the rest. They can also start their agencies while working a full-time job, without putting themselves or their families at risk. This speeds up the time it takes to earn time and financial freedom. So far, the results have been incredible — all because we looked at our failures as feedback and adjusted our path. —Josh Harris, founder of Agency Growth Secrets; teaches entrepreneurs how to start, grow, and scale marketing agencies that help businesses grow
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