What if the Secret to Success was Failure?


Nobody wants to be seen as a failure?  You don’t wake up one day and say, “Hmmm…I sure hope I fail a lot today.”  But what if this was the only way to become a success.  There is no such thing as success without failure in my opinion.  Why?  Because you learn through your mistakes.

Do you ever get frustrated when you are trying to do something new, but you have no idea how to do it?  You spend endless hours searching online, reading new books, talking with other people, in hopes to figure out what you want to be able to do.  Sometimes you may give up, and at other times you may keep treading forward.

We weren’t designed to do everything perfectly.  Let’s face it we are all human.  We were designed though to learn through our mistakes.  Today I am going to take you on a journey of my own failures, what I have learned from them, and what I am able to accomplish today as a result.


Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” 

– Winston Churchill

The first business that I failed at was trying to make money on ebay.  I specifically sold used clothing that was in great condition.  I sold the clothing in lots thinking this would make it more valuable.   With all of the shipping costs this endeavor landed me in the hole.  I had tried to read all of the books out there that would help me launch this successfully, but honestly I think the whole ebay craze, where it might have been profitable for small business owners like me at one time, was beginning to lose it’s steam.  I tried learning from the successful people, but I couldn’t compete with all of the brick and mortar companies that were selling their stuff dirt cheap to get it out of their inventory.

The next business that I began was called LLI.  I had to sell the program which taught people how to start their own company and then sell tickets to conferences.  In the entire six months that I was part of this venture I spent a ton of money and had only sold one $1,000 product.  I did learn, however, how to start a company that I was passionate about and how to talk to potential clients on the phone that centered on them and not on me.

My target clients were teachers like myself.  They either wanted to leave the school system or were let go from the school system and were looking for a way to make money tutoring online.  My company didn’t fit their need, so I would always end up wishing them luck as they pursued their future endeavors.  This did stick out to me that there was a need, but certainly I couldn’t provide that need for them at that time.

So far this whole starting my own business thing was not working out quite like I thought that it would.  The fear and frustrations that my husband was having about me not making a reliable income caused some resistance for success to come easily and effortlessly my way.  We feared if we would have enough money to pay off our bills and kept going into the negative and into our savings.  The money situation wasn’t looking good.

Then I remembered the program that I had that taught me how to run my own company.  By this point I now was able to create my own websites, do video Marketing and create my own SEO results to get me on page one of Google.  I had this brand new idea that I was so excited to implement.  This idea would help increase kids reading levels while everyone got to have a good time.  I thought I would sell vacations that the entire family could go on.  There would be times where mom and dad could spend some alone time together while the kids would be reading about the places that they were at.  Then they would have hands on experiences at these exotic locations like Alaska and increase their background knowledge, which would then increase their non-fiction reading levels.

This excited me because I would get to travel the world which was always a passion for me AND I would be able to help kids with their reading.  It felt like a win win.  The only problem is that there was not a need for this.  Nobody goes into Google and types learning vacation.  I had people tell me that vacations should be a time where kids get to relax, not learn.  Every single negative thought that went through peoples minds about this idea came out of their mouths.  Or, so I thought.

In the end, this was not a SERVICE that was going to solve problems for people.  Thank goodness this didn’t cost me anything.  I didn’t have to invest anything except for the time.  So, unfortunately Bright IDEA Vacations where you get to discover, explore and have an adventure was never born.

I had always wanted to teach kids how to read online.  Before I had left my first teaching job I had mentioned this to one of my college professors and she had given me this look like I was crazy.  She didn’t see how I could be effective teaching kids to read online, and her look backed that up.  I had no idea how to make it work either.  So, I began going online to see if there was a company that I could work for.

I found company after company that offered math, SAT, and ACT tutoring.  There were companies that seemed to offer language arts tutoring but not tutoring online for struggling readers.  I honestly never had a desire to teach those other areas so I left the dream of teaching online for a dream in the future.

I began to think about some other ways that I could make money.  I thought that I could take my craft skills and begin making money selling handmade jewelry on Etsy.  I didn’t sell one piece of jewelry online, so I decided to take my jewelry to a craft fair, get a table and sell it there.

Since there were already a ton of jewelry crafters at the fair I was going to enter, I had to MARKET under a different focus.  I made matching jewelry sets for little girls and their American Girl Dolls.

Do you think I was effective at this?  Nope, women apparently like to buy jewelry for themselves, but not so much for their little girls and their doll.  Also, the day of the fair happened to be on a day where we had a major hail storm and instead of having 1,000 people walk through the door that day, only 200 people attended the event.  I had set up my booth so that kids could color while the parents looked around. The only sale I made that day was a pity sale from a little girl that hung out with me coloring.

This was another business venture that landed me into a negative profit.  I spent about $300 on beads, $40 on a table and made a whopping $10 from the event.  Hmmmm…..  I really began to second guess my ability to start a successful business opportunity for myself and continued to brainstorm.

I remember going to an Usborne Book Party once and I loved the books so much that I thought this was something easy that I could be successful at.  Anyone who knows me, knows my passion for books, so this seemed like a no-brainer.  I attended all of the trainings online, did my research, purchased the start up package and had my open house.  I was able to book parties from this and my friends really supported me in this venture.

The problem came when I ran out of friends.  My friends were willing to have a party and support me, and even some of their friends supported me, but after that people just didn’t want to have parties.  It is work for people to bring a sales person to their home to have a party and people don’t really want to go through the effort of cleaning their house, inviting their friends, and having someone sell to them.  Sometimes the perks where good enough for people to want to do this, but most people didn’t really want to invest their hard earned dollars on what seemed to them as expensive but high quality books.  Ebooks seem to be really taking off right now and if you can buy a book for .99 or $2.99, then the odds are that you are not going to buy them at full price and only read them once.

So there you have it.  Five failed businesses and no real potential of earning an income.  You may be wondering why I chose to share that story with you.  Well, I share it more because of what I have learned in the process of starting my own businesses than to tell you what a failure I have been in the past.

Through each of these businesses I have learned that people don’t actually care about the product that you have to sell them.  The only thing that people care about is what’s in it for them.  That is the only thing that will get people to part with their hard earned dollar.  So as you are starting your own tutoring business, never think of it as a way to earn money and freedom for yourself, but honestly how can you be of SERVICE to your potential client.

Another powerful thing that I learned through this entire process is that if people’s pain is great enough, then they will pay for a solution.  The first company that I had with ebay did not result in any pain for people.  People can find clothing anywhere.  They can go to a rummage sale or goodwill if their pain is great, not pay a lot of money, and still be clothed.  The pain factor in your child falling behind in education is great.  This is why there is such a need for it.

In my second business I learned that many people want to have financial freedom, but if something sounds too good to be true, they will put their guard up.  When I ran my business with Etsy I learned that you can’t just put something on the internet anymore and expect people to find it.  People don’t find things on the internet as an accident anymore.  People are found because they have either done their research on SEO to create #1 rankings on Google, have paid for their rankings to show up as #1 and paid a ton of money, or have paid for someone who knows what they are doing in the area of internet Marketing.

The days of people finding you by accident are long over.  Everything is very methodical and I will teach you what I have done to get first page rankings.  It won’t happen overnight, but through time it will be possible.  If you want to get started right now I suggest Search Engine Optimization an Hour a Day by Jennifer Capone and Gradiva Couzin.  This book will guide you into knowing everything you need to know about optimizing your website about discovering what keywords you need, how to get known for those keywords, and how to get found long term.  It is a technical book, but if you follow it step by step you will get found on the internet for free.

I learned that from my venture with Bright IDEA Vacations that sometimes my ideas are not so bright.  If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at.  Don’t take yourself so seriously, brush it off, and find another way to turn your dreams into a reality.

I also learned that if my business is more of a benefit to me than it is for my clients, then it will not be an effective business.  People are in business because their SERVICES or product is something that other people need, not something I think that they should need or want.

From Usborne Books I learned that I don’t enjoy selling low price point products.  If someone only buys one, then you don’t make much of a profit.  I have seen people buy one piece of jewelry from Silpada for $100 and seen both people walk away happy from the transaction.  When I would sell my books and someone bought one for $10, only one person walked away happy from that transaction, the customer.  This made me take stalk of what my time is worth.  In my tutoring company I want my customers to feel that they are getting great value for their money and I need to be able support my family so that I don’t have to go out and get another typical job.

So today I am able to run my own online tutoring company from the comfort of my home with a full caseload of students.  I truly believe that I was supposed to learn everything that I did from all of my experiences so that I could do this effectively, but one of the other major reasons for me to have gone through this is so I can show people how to do it quicker.  I share some of these secrets in my set of free videos.  So if you are looking to set yourself apart from the other online tutors, then sign up to receive them for free at www.tutorpreneurs.com.

Have you had any failures in your business that have led you to your success.  I would love to hear what you have learned through your journey.

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  1. Oh the online journey to success has been bumpy and long. Like you I struggled with many online marketing efforts. Heck I even went so far as to buy a restaurant and close it’s doors in 9 months. That was an expensive endeavor.
    But I learned a lot. One thing I really learned was that I knew jack about marketing. It took some studying and some mentors to show me the value of keywords, blogging, social media, and how to tie it all together.
    I created my first course Blogging Ingredients because of my frustration and lack of mentoring at the time I began blogging.

    Thank you so much for sharing your struggles. It is part of the journey and because of it we are stronger. Looking forward to seeing what you share next!

    • It is amazing about how you learn about all the things that you don’t know about when you get started. It can be overwhelming knowledge wise and pocketbook wise, but if you stick with it long enough you can figure it all out.

  2. Great stories! I’m sure they will benefit people who take the time to read them. I can’t readily say I’ve failed at many business tries (considering I didn’t try that many), but I can say that unless you’re starting a business to SERVE others, you might as well not even try.

    It’s about what you bring to the table for others – no what you walk away with in the pocketbook. I give more away than I charge for and I’m happy to do it because I know it will come back to me ten-fold in one way or another. :)
    Bonnie Gean recently posted…How to Schedule a Post on FacebookMy Profile

    • I agree with you on that. It is all about how you can be of service to others. It sounds like you enjoy doing that as much as I do. I love that you give a ton of value to your customers, and I am sure they appreciate it as well. What a great way to get referrals. No wonder you have such a successful blog. :)

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