I’ve been struggling with this almost my entire life, particularly this last year as we dissolved Bidzuku. To be an entrepreneur takes an infinite amount of courage and we’re built to be defiant. We’re the ones that go left when everyone goes right, say yes when everyone says no, and ignore statistics that most people live their lives by. While these very characteristics are what it takes to /eventually/ be successful, they’re also the same characteristics that make it difficult to know when it’s time to quit which in turn makes it insanely hard to pick ourselves back up again – though most of us eventually do.
I don’t care what anyone says, when you fail it’s the equivalent of being kicked in the chest. In my case, I built a team of amazing people who busted their butts and sacrificed every free minute they had to build what we all believed in. I assembled these guys and painted the picture, I made the decisions and it was up to me to see it through. When failing, you fail your people. When I failed, I failed my wife, family, and friends who put their time, energy, and money into my vision. When I failed, I failed my advisors and mentors who shared their very valuable time. When I failed, I failed my team but more importantly, I failed myself.
The hardest part to failing, for me, were the weeks leading up to it. You feel it, you know it’s coming but the very nature it takes to be an entrepreneur try’s time and time again to convince you there’s got to be a way to make it work if you just try harder. When I finally made the call to shut down, I hated it and I hated myself. I wanted to shut myself in a dark room and be left alone. It was hard to look my wife in the eyes and I couldn’t stand to tell another friend or family member why it failed. I hated telling my team that the two years we put into the project unfortunately didn’t work out but that tomorrow is another day. Standing tall and being strong in the eye of people around me was the hardest part and felt crippling.
The two weeks after shutting down, I was a zombie. I got lost in video games, ate junk, let chores go undone, and nearly lost my day job in the process – the job that paid my bills and supported my family. It took two weeks, two solid weeks that felt like forever before I pulled myself up and made a decision to take the first step toward something, anything. Surrounded by disappointment and a monstrous amount of debt, I made the choice to push forward.
First few days I had no idea what I was going to do. I played around with a few ideas, talked to a few people, and started to formulate a new plan. At this point in my life – 27 years old, married, and broke – I had to think of more than myself. If you’re 19, no bills and no responsibility, this wouldn’t apply. I took a hard look at my situation and formulated a plan of action with the help of my ever supportive wife and family. It was hard, because day-in and day-out have a burning desire to start something, but I decided to take a step back. I decided to improve myself at my trade – marketing, and find a startup with great leaders to plug in at. I decided I could kick butt and work closely with founders who were rocking and take advantage of the opportunity to learn.
Often, entrepreneurs learn from their own failures and that’s great – I learned more doing my last startup than I ever expected to. But this time, I wanted to learn from people doing it and doing it right. Financially, it will take me a minimum of 5 years to recover since I funded the entire thing – I decided to use that time to make a difference somewhere. Maybe in a few years, however long it takes, I’ll do something else. Who knows, maybe I’ll stumble into something sooner.
My point is this, there isn’t a book to help someone with what it’s like to deal with failure – especially for entrepreneurs. You have to make decisions, mine was to push forward. It isn’t easy, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. It will never be easy, unless of course you’re spending someone else’s money and don’t care about the people depending on you and sadly there’s a lot of that out there. I look back now and couldn’t be more thankful for the experience, I learned A LOT, I met a lot of amazing people, and I pushed through something that has made me wiser. Make the choice to push through and you’ll be ok, just don’t expect it to be quick and easy. If it is, you aren’t doing it right.